Providing Insight and Strategic Advice about Legal Recruiting
My esteemed colleague, Anabella Bonfa, is a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who writes and lectures on how to enhance your LinkedIn profile to maximize this marketing tool. I have personally observed how Anabella works tirelessly to help young lawyers achieve their "personal best". She has a passion for assisting others, and with jumpstarting how to project themselves in the business world. Can't help but to share this with you...
“This material is reproduced from the CEBblog™ entry, 10 Steps to an Outstanding LinkedIn Profile, (http://blog.ceb.com/2015/01/30/10-steps-to-an-outstanding-linkedin-profile/) copyright 2015 by the Regents of the University of California. Reproduced with permission of Continuing Education of the Bar - California. (For information about CEB publications, telephone toll free 1-800-CEB-3444 or visit our Web site, CEB.com).”
LinkedIn is an excellent marketing tool for lawyers. Here’s how to make your LinkedIn profile—your first impression there—as effective as it can be.
Although it’s tempting, don’t use your profile to directly ask for work. Not only might this run afoul of professional responsibility rules, it makes you sound desperate. Newer attorneys should focus on the skills they have to offer based on past work experience. For example, focus on why you excel at dealing with clients, problem solving, working in a stressful environment, and managing deadlines.
Put your best self forward in your LinkedIn profile and reap the professional benefits!
Anabella Q. Bonfa. Ms. Bonfa is a litigator with Wellman & Warren LLP, handling business and partnership disputes, theft of trade secrets, and unfair competition. She lectures extensively on trade secrets, networking, and using social media to develop business.
THE BIGGEST MISTAKES STUDENTS MAKE; THE SHORT LIST
REMEMBER - You are smart and have the technological savvy – but THEY have the jobs. Educate yourself about these differences, and show respect for them.
THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME QUESTIONS FOLLOWING THE PRESENTATION
1. What are small and medium sized law firms looking for in applicants? Applicants who have the experience in the job description, and with a personality that will mesh in a smaller firm environment.
2. What is the hiring process like for small and mid-size law firms when they hire associates or law students? Typically 1-3 interviews, where you’ll meet main partners and associates. If the firm extends an offer, you will typically have 48 hours to 1 week to accept.
3. How can a student stand out from the rest? Personal presence and message, consistency of brand, impressively-drafted resume, LinkedIn profile, quality of developed relationships (references).
4. If grades are not your strongest asset, what can you do to make yourself competitive? See above, plus a professional Blog can prove valuable in many ways.
5. While in law school, what are some things I can do now that will help me later in my career? Develop an online presence, and start laying groundwork with individuals and at events. See networking tips, above.
6. What areas of law are growing and employing more lawyers? Labor and employment, IP Patent litigation (particularly with an EE or CS degree), some corporate and real estate positions are opening up. What areas of the law are tightening and hiring less? Litigation, Bankruptcy.
6. How did networking influence the job you have (or any jobs that you've had)? I was introduced to attorney recruiting by my brother – who had used a recruiter years before. During law school, we were not educated about the services of recruiters, so I was unfamiliar with the benefits of working with one. We had a good synergy and I joined her business. In 2005, I incorporated Rifkin Consulting.
Another example is that a professional colleague introduced to a journalist at a renowned legal publication. We get together regularly, have developed a really positive personal and professional relationship, and I’ve had significant opportunities to get meaningful PR exposure as a result.
7. After meeting someone at a networking event, what is the best way to cultivate that relationship? Pay attention to that person’s business card, and comment on it when possible. Too often people just discard business cards, but in Asian culture this is considered disrespectful. Send a nice note afterwards to people with whom you wish to remain in contact – calendar follow ups. Show value.
8. What is the #1 thing you should and should not do at a networking event? Ask for a job.
9. Any general tips for anyone that has not been to a networking event?
I hope this information has been helpful. Please check back for additions and modifications, and visit our Professional Resources page at www.rifkinconsulting.com .
PART 2; HOW TO GET STARTED NETWORKING
MAKE CONNECTIONS, DEVELOP THE RELATIONSHIPS
I. SOCIAL NETWORKING AND RELATED VENUES
LinkedIn: enjoy a 360 degree resume – for free!
TWITTER & FACEBOOK
II. IN PERSON NETWORKING
FOLLOWING UP: While you learn what those tips are, you can mention some of the things you’ve done, your skills, and other things that would show you’re a smart person working hard to accomplish your goal.
VENUES FOR NETWORKING
Sometimes the dream job you thought you would love turns out to be a nightmare position from which you feel you may never escape. This is especially distressing when you have just started a new job and decide in a very short time that you despise the people or the position or both. How soon is too soon to start looking for another job? Will changing a job too quickly look bad on your resume?
The Dilemma of A Bad Job
Bad jobs create their own terrible dilemma. If you quit the job, you risk being earmarked as a quitter or a “job hopper”; however, if you do not quit, you risk not only being miserable but perhaps being fired by the boss who likes you no better than you like him or her.
Generally, your happiness and mental health are worth more than any job. However, you also have to be able to balance your own needs against the danger of moving from job to job whimsically.
A few things to consider when choosing whether or not to leave a job you just started:
How Unhappy Are You?
The biggest question to answer when you are considering leaving a job you just started is: how unhappy are you? You may honestly have given the job a fair chance, but it is also possible that you are allowing your dislike to color your viewpoint. One way to measure how reasonable your dislike of a job really is could be to talk with someone you trust and who is willing to give you an objective opinion of your situation.
If you find that you simply cannot stand to keep a job, of course you must move on. However, be sure that you are making the right decision and that you are willing to accept the consequences of making a sudden job change before you turn in your notice.
There are very good reasons to work with an attorney recruiter when searching for attorney jobs in CA or when law firms have positions to fill. Here are the top ten reasons an attorney recruiter in CA can help match the right candidate with the right job.
A legal recruiter can be a wonderful benefit in your legal job search. Rifkin Consulting has many years of experience helping legal candidates look for jobs and helping law firms connect with the right candidates for their various positions. With the help of Rifkin Consulting, quality attorneys can come together with the right law firms to benefit both.
Hiring an attorney recruiter is a process, in some ways, similar to a job interview. You must be sure that the attorney recruiter is a good match for your needs, and the recruiter must be sure that you are the type of candidate he or she wants to represent. The process of “interviewing” a legal recruiter should be taken every bit as seriously as your job interviews and may well have even more lasting ramifications.
An attorney recruiter in CA such as Rifkin Consulting serves a very important purpose. Finding the right attorney jobs in CA is not a simple task, and hiring an attorney recruiter is one of the best ways to weed through the hundreds of law jobs in CA and find the one that best suits your goals and talents.
Therefore, there are several things you should ask your attorney recruiter before agreeing to representation. Here are a few questions you should ask to learn the important information you need to make the right choice in legal recruiting firms from among those available.
How long have you been working as an attorney recruiter? Ask to see the credentials of the person you are hiring to represent you to law firms throughout the state. A professional attorney recruiting firm has usually been in business for years, offering you a chance to review their success stories and see their development as a key player in the legal field.
How do you go about choosing the right jobs for me? This is a crucial question and is really the key to the success or failure of an attorney recruiter in terms of finding the right positions for you. The attorney recruiter should use a verifiable method of weeding out job possibilities so that he or she focuses only on those that will fit your demands. You do not want a recruiter who simply passes your resume to any law firm that is hiring.
Do you offer support services? An attorney recruiter should offer other services such as resume editing, interview preparation and advice on choosing the right job. Simply brokering your resume to law firms is not enough.
Do you have references to whom I can speak? The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” can also be applied to references. No matter how good a firm tells you it is, hearing it from someone who has used the firm successfully means much more. You should also search the Internet for possible bad references; while one or two do not mean much, a number of bad reviews may signal trouble.
How do you calculate your fees? An attorney recruiting firm is paid by the employer when a candidate is hired and begins employment.
It is also important to consider the necessity of maintaining confidentiality and discretion in this process. You may have other questions to ask a potential attorney recruiter. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification or information; after all, this may be one of the most important relationships of your life.
As an attorney recruiter, I have seen a variety of business cards slide across my desk. Some have been good, some have been bad, and some have been downright ugly. It seems trite, but your business card truly is your own personal form of marketing. What you put on your business card should reflect your brand as an attorney candidate.
The front of a business card is the first thing many people see when you introduce yourself. Therefore, the front of your business card, along with your appearance, can make or break your chances for a job or to retain a client. As a legal recruiter, I have heard law firms exclaim in surprise that they thought the business card did not inspire confidence in the candidate before them. It is worth the effort to examine the front of your business card and determine the most important information to include as well as the placement of that information in the most eye-catching manner.
Having an effective business card means more than just printing your name and telephone number on the front. Not only should you have certain information on your card, you should also include this information in way that immediately draws the eye to the important points and makes a statement about your professionalism and organizational skills.
Here are a few rules to follow when designing the front of your business card.
When it comes to obtaining a lawyer job in California, your business card could be the first step in or out of the door. Rather than leaving it to chance, attorney candidates should give it the careful review it deserves.
When you're looking for lawyer jobs in California, it can sometimes seem like an eternity before you're called in for an interview. Waiting to be called for an interview can be emotionally difficult. It can mean hours of sitting by the phone or the computer, waiting for a call or an email.
As skilled attorney recruiters, we see this frustration a lot. Instead of suffering and putting yourself through stress, why not use this time to your advantage? Here are some tips to help you use the time between sending in your resume and your actual interview wisely.
According to the Huffington Post, the average recruiter will look at your resume for all of six seconds before deciding whether or not you’re right for the team. And while the legal recruiters at Rifkin Consulting guarantee that we spend much more time than that on our candidates, we can’t speak for potential employers who are judging you from the look of your resume. Essentially, you are trying to condense your life experiences and qualifications onto one sheet of paper—if you’re lucky, maybe two. We understand that it can be difficult, but not impossible.
This year, instead of making resolutions you know you’ll never keep, resolve to make a better impact and get the job you want. After all, your resume is the first impression you'll have on the law firm, so why not make it the best one? Here are some tips on assuring that your resume is the one that stands out.
Highlight relevant experience
The brutal truth: an employer will skip your fluff and cut to the meat of the matter. They want to get down to business and see if you can do the job that they need you to do. If the answer is buried between irrelevant job experience at Burger King and Starbucks, chances are you’re going to go to the bottom of the pile. (In fact, if you’re still including Burger King and Starbucks in your resume, we think it best that you rethink your options.) Use bullets and bold font to instantly show the employer that you meet their qualifications. Make your resume as easily and quickly to digest as possible. But make sure the employer likes what he tastes.
When speaking about your abilities, it’s important to cite situations that prove them. Relevant experience will speak for itself, so include them in your resume. Don’t be afraid to brag, but don’t go over the top. Quantify your experience and be specific about the challenges you’ve overcome. For example, if you’ve had trial experience or won cases, list them. Be detailed and get to the point.
Education vs. Experience
A resume is like real estate. Higher value properties should be located at the top of a listing. Similarly, your more applicable experiences should be listed first on your resume. Experience takes precedence over education, but if you’re still only starting out and don’t have much experience of which to boast, place education at the top. Otherwise, what’s more important and relevant to the position should have higher priority.
Limit to one page
No matter your qualifications, a prospective employer wants an easily digestible synopsis on your work history and experience. For this reason, it’s standard to limit resumes to just one page. If you happen to be particularly accomplished, don’t get too granular about the details. Stick to the basics to allow room for other accomplishments. Another option is to include a second page of Representative Matters or Representative Clients.
Keep it professional
Unless you are applying for a position at a marketing agency or a design company, it is always best to keep your resume simple in terms of style. Recruiters and employers read dozens of resumes every day. The bottom line is they want something basic and straightforward, something that will tell them in a matter of seconds whether or not you are a good fit. No one wants to waste hours on someone unqualified. There’s no need for crazy colors and busy designs. Black and white does the trick just fine when your experience speaks for itself.
Too often, the personal section of a resume will include random, irrelevant information. In a cheap trick to make themselves stand out, candidates include personal information, hobbies, and interests—and why they think the interviewer would care is beyond us. If you want to impress the firm, there’s no need to include irrelevant information about your personal life. Your work history and abilities should say it all.
It's always best to keep your resume fresh and up to date. As you start out the new year, give your professional profile a makeover to ensure that you'll get the job you want. Keep these tips in mind when you're revamping your resume, and you'll get that interview in no time.
You might not even be realizing that you’re making them, but there are many mistakes that even the most experienced candidates make during interviews. Some of these common mistakes are so glaringly obvious, and yet many people are guilty of them all the time. Below, we list some of the most common mistakes, how to avoid them, and how to recover if you can’t.
Inappropriate Dressing. Everyone says that what you wear to an interview can make a big impression—and it’s true. Yet, so many men and women wear unprofessional outfits or casual attire to an interview. It doesn’t matter if the business is a startup company or a large corporation. Or even if the interviewer told you to dress casually. Until you have the job, professional appearance is mandatory.
Being Distracted. Cell phones, food, drinks—why anyone thinks these are appropriate during a work interview is beyond us. And yet, people bring their coffees, sodas, and snacks to interviews all the time. Some candidates even text or browse their cell phones, completely ignoring—and thus, disrespecting—the interviewer. Avoid this. If you must fuel up before the meeting, ditch your food and drink before entering the building. Silence your cell phone, and focus all your attention on the interviewer.
Not Paying Attention. And while we're on the subject, interviewers loooove when you are distracted and not paying attention--not. A common pet peeve is when candidates fail to focus on what the interviewer is saying. Their eyes glaze over, they start viewing the scenery. If you're bored during the interview, what makes the potential employer think that you won't be bored at your job? If you really are having a terrible time paying attention, then perhaps you should re-evaluate your work options. If it's some fluke that you tuned out the interviewer, then re-focus and pay attention.
Fuzzy Work History. Right, so we understand that job descriptions from ten years ago may be a bit difficult to recall. But when you don’t know the details of your own work history, it’s a bit of a red flag for potential employers. Brush up your resume beforehand so you’re not stumped by questions about your own past.
Knowing Nothing about the Company. While you're brushing up your own work history, don't forget to learn about the company as well. One of the easiest questions asked during any interview is, “What do you know about our company?” It’s easy because you could have done your research beforehand. In fact, you’re expected to. With today’s technological opportunities, it’s not difficult to browse the company’s profile online—at the very least. Don’t let the interviewer stump you with history’s easiest question. Do your homework and be prepared.
I’m Late, I’m Late, I’m Late. Arriving late is indicative of your poor time management skills and shows that you don’t care about your interviewer’s time. It ultimately comes down to a lack of respect for the company. Sometimes, you simply can’t help it due to an unforeseeable event, such as a traffic accident. In that case, study the traffic route to the interview location, and leave early.
Too Much Information. Answer the question. It’s simply that easy. Though your future employer is looking for more than the monosyllabic answer, don’t ramble, don’t go on and on about your life and future goals. Answer the question as specifically and directly as possible.
Taking Too Long. In other words, being unprepared. Interview questions are pretty standard and common, and while some interviewers will understand if you don’t know the answer to a question instantly, taking too long can be annoying. Some might let you skip the question, and though we advise against this, if you must, then you must. But it’s always best to prepare and anticipate standard questions before the interview, and know how to answer them. (We’ll be reviewing these common interview queries in a future blog, so stay tuned.)
Nothing but Complaints. It’s obvious that you want to leave your job for a reason. Why else would you be interviewing at a new company? But badmouthing a previous boss is simply bad form. It will reflect on how you might view your potential position at the new company. What if your interviewer turns out to be your future boss? He or she might wonder if you would badmouth them in the same way. Avoid it at all costs, and if your interviewer asks you a question about your former supervisor, answer it directly and professionally.
Keep in Mind: Be Prepared. Throughout all our advice on interviewing and preparing for a job, there is one prominent tip that will always remain. Always do your research and prepare for the interview in the best way you can. Don’t let anyone stump you when you could easily avoid the awkward situation by doing your research. Avoid these common interview pitfalls and you’ll be nailing that next interview.
Interviewing tips are a dime a dozen, but you might be surprised at how many candidates fail to follow some of the most simple advice. Potential employers are going to begin gauging you the moment you step foot into their building, and you only have about half an hour or so to prove them right or wrong. That's why it's imperative that you conduct the best interview you possibly can.
Here are a few tips from our recruiters on how to nail that interview and land the job.
Dress for the part. Once you land the job and understand the culture of the firm, you will be able to work with more freedom when it comes to fashion. Even if the interviewer mentions that the firm is “casual,” you should consider that it is always best to look too professional than not professional enough. It is a human instinct to judge upon first glance—and while you’ll get the chance to show the interviewer who you are, it is always best to set a positive foundation. Keep your appearance conservative and polished.
Know who you’re working for. Always research the company and position before you interview. It doesn’t speak well for you if you don’t know much about the company you supposedly want to work for. Today’s technology provides easy ways to research—open a tab in your browser and do a quick query on your next dream job. Don’t just stop at the company website. You might be surprised at how much more information you’ll find when you look through articles, comments, forums, and discussions about the company.
Prepare your own questions. Have you ever been in that position when the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions…and you actually…don’t? We’ve all been there—and it’s awkward. While some natural questions can develop during the interview, it is always best to prepare your own beforehand. During your research on the company, think of several things that you can ask the interviewer. It will make you seem even more enthusiastic and interested in working for them.
Anticipate standard, open questions. The dreaded standards queries of interviews—you know the ones we’re talking about. “Tell us about yourself.” “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” You won’t be able to avoid them. The best way to answer these is to stay on topic. Focus on your career goals and try to answer the question with the position description in mind.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. It is important to stay confident and know what you’re good at and what you’re not. The trick is to not come off over-confident, pompous or unbelievable. Rather, stay true to yourself, and understand that you also have weaknesses. During the interview, use those weaknesses to your advantage by explaining how you’ve overcome some challenges and used your insecurities to better yourself as a professional.
Stay enthusiastic. You’d be surprised at how bored many applicants appear during interviews. Yes, employers know you want the job. You wouldn’t have applied otherwise. But there are also at least a dozen other candidates who want the job just as much as you do, maybe even more. When you show enthusiasm and passion for a position, it shows that you are truly interested, and it will reflect on your attitude toward the position if they do choose to hire you.
Last of all, don’t forget to relax. Before an interview, take a deep breath and keep calm. It’s important to be prepared and do your best during an interview, but don’t stress about it so much that you are unable to prove your credibility to your interviewer. Your dreams aren’t going anywhere, so there’s no need to rush. You’ll reach them one day, as long as you keep working hard to make them come true.