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.
Summertime is almost here and numerous law students will begin jobs, many in law firms. These are probably the lucky ones, because they will have an edge over colleagues who were unable to secure a position. Our previous blogs discussed various strategies for these unemployed students to use to find jobs in order to avoid the summertime blues. But how about a few pointers for those who will be working in a law firm? Of course, you are required to do excellent work. What else do we suggest? Make yourself memorable!
Millennials are often viewed as self-absorbed with unreasonable expectations and a sense of entitlement. Sorry folks, it doesn’t sound pretty, and that’s the short version! But we know they also have technological skills that previous generations don’t. Everyone is replaceable, but position yourself such that the firm would really miss your contributions if you weren’t around. You may wish to consider:
- Tech Advantage: Use your special technological abilities not only to produce high quality work in a timely manner, but also to consider developing or contributing to your firm’s social networking sites. Go beyond the standard Blog and suggest topics that are cutting edge or may be unique for a multi-generational audience - but always ensure that you have your employer’s approval prior to publication.
- Dress Like A Professional: while it may be acceptable to dress in jeans and Birkenstocks, it’s just not professional. That is not the image that your firm wants intra-firm or with clients. It’s sort of like when you had your interview and sat at lunch with several attorneys…do you think they took you out merely to feed you and ask questions? Of course not, they also observed your manner and presence, thinking about how you might appear when taking a client to lunch. While “dress like a professional” does not necessarily mean wearing a suit or tie, dress the part. Ask yourself this “if the partner spontaneously asked me to go to court with him, how would I want to look to represent the firm and myself to the judge?” When in doubt, consider the three “C’s”: current, classic, conservative. [No, these are not contradictory, you can do it!]
- Social Abilities; Demonstrate that you can hold your own in a conversation with colleagues and clients. Maintain self-control at firm functions where alcohol is served, just as you (hopefully) would at a business lunch. Future employers are often part of a generation that wants to believe that you know how to communicate beyond the keyboard.
- Show Respect for Generational Differences: You’ll be working with people from several different generations. It’s very important to recognize that you must show respect for them and their ways of doing things, even though your own opinions may differ.
- Learn About the Firm Culture; understanding the firm’s environment will be an advantage towards determining how to best become memorable.
Congratulations on obtaining a summer associate position….now go make yourself memorable!
Today I read an article “The Confidence Gap”, espousing the premise that more women lack confidence than men. If true, why is this and can this be overcome? Is the stereotype true that, traditionally, women feel less confident in business situations than men? Is it still a “man’s world”, whether women do or don’t exude confidence?
As a teen of the 60’s, I’ve seen – and experienced - great changes and significant advances for women in the workplace. Hey – it used to be (in the olden days) that a stay-at-home mom had no legal way of even funding her own Roth IRA!
I did not develop my business experience in the larger corporate world, so I can only speak about this from the perspective of friends who have. These women felt strong and competent during those years, but had to learn to maneuver in a man’s world. Did they have to adapt to how men “operated” in order to get ahead? I am told that they often did. However, many women today believe that they are better off, long term, if they appreciate the differences and utilize them to their advantage.
Why would women WANT to be like men? If equal compensation is the issue, then we have laws to deal with these issues. Respect? Our behavior, actions and reputation should engender respect, as this is not a “given”. Women tend to have a sensitivity that men do not and, if not to the level of emotionality, it can be a true benefit in dealing with others in the workplace.
Do women have to be tough to be effective? If tough implies “strong”, “resilient”, and “stable”, I think the answer is probably yes. However, if “tough” is interpreted as “rough”, “harsh” or “hard-hitting”, then I doubt such women will be viewed positively. Even those of us outside the large corporate world know that there is much to be gained from strength through diplomacy, respect through integrity, resilience through a positive attitude, focus and forthrightness.
Should a woman behave differently during a job interview? Does the generational classification of the interviewer affect the outcome when it comes to stereotypes? I believe that we always have to have a healthy respect for, even if we don't agree withor feel in control of, the human element.
It is important to note that I believe young women today often view this issue as a nonstarter, expecting to be treated with a certain degree of respect out of the gate. I applaud this frame of mind so long as they behave in a way that deserves such respect.
Many folks might disagree with me, but I believe a woman has to find her confidence not only through results, but also by operating from within – and at times pushing the boundaries of - her comfort zone. The result can engender such a level of self-respect that it actually gives her the courage to ‘lean in” and accomplish whatever she wants to.
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
Part One; Why You Must Network
Based on a presentation at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles on 2/12/14.
In 1988, I graduated from Villanova School of Law outside Philadelphia. Villanova is viewed very much back east like Loyola is here in Los Angeles – a highly-regarded regional law school. I worked for a large law firm, and subsequently for small firms. When I relocated to California, I knew no one but a couple of family members.
Since I started attorney recruiting 14 years ago, more than half of those years were during a recession.
What does this information have to do with you? Well, in real estate you always hear the phrase “location, location, location”. What I want you to remember is “connections, connections, connections”. This realization changed my professional life – and I’m confident that it can change yours.
Connections, as well as hard work and a lot of patience, have contributed tremendously to my success in business. On a similar note, developing relationships after I moved to California was critical, and it took years of effort to develop friendships and acquaintances like I had back East for so many years. I mention this because developing connections is, in many ways, like making friends. But like friends, connections and relationships should be chosen carefully. Therefore, it’s important that you network with intention.
Developing personal networking habits and skills will always be essential to your professional success, as there is no replacement for the human connection. What about the importance and efficiency of social media connections and exposure, you ask? Our world is inextricably linked with Social Media. Therefore, it’s hard to separate what you need to know to interview well and/or land a job, versus [personal] networking advice.
You want to know how to get a job, how to keep a job, and how to become secure to weather a recession in the future…b/c the only thing you can really be sure of is…there will be change. Recession will happen again, and technology is rapidly evolving.
Competition may seem greater than ever, with more candidates having access to information about available jobs. However… the GOOD news is that, thanks to technology, you have more information and other resources at your fingertips than previous generations – so what are you going to do now that you are armed with these tools?
NETWORK WITH INTENTION; 3 PARTS TO THIS PRESENTATION
WHY YOU MUST NETWORK; THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
1. Networking is crucial for your career. Effective networking leads to relationships, and people tend to hire other people who they know and like.
2. You are unique – but look to your right and to your left – those people are also unique. You must distinguish yourself with a personal brand.
3. Brand vs. Reputation: Both your brand and reputation are important to your success
To be continued in Part 2: How To Get Started
If you are having trouble getting attorney recruiters to work on your behalf to find a job, there could be a variety of reasons. It is important to identify the reasons and take steps to correct them. Rifkin Consulting often works with those attorneys who are having trouble getting a job and can give sound advice on making yourself more attractive to employers.
What Can I Do To Get A Recruiter's Attention?
Attorney recruiters are like any other professionals; they want the most employable attorneys on their books. They have the best chance of placing these attorneys to big law firms and therefore making larger commissions. Recruiters often have parameters, i.e., some attorney recruiters do not accept attorneys who are looking for jobs in small firms, who are unemployed, or seeking employment in certain practice areas.
However, that does not mean that all recruiters feel this way or that there are no recruiters who will work with you. It may be that you are looking in the wrong places.
Sit down and make two lists: one of your experience and skills in a short, condensed form and one of your career preferences. Type these up in a concise, one-page letter that you can include with your resume. This will help you talk to recruiters about your skills and your career goals quickly and weed out recruiters that simply cannot help you.
Now is also a good time to see if there may be glaring problems with your CV. Were you disciplined by a bar association or denied licensure for some reason? If so, you may find that recruiters are shying away but could promote your resume to a law firm with a good explanation of what happened. Never be afraid to tell the truth; most recruiters have seen various problems with attorneys and may have unique ways of handling your issues.
The Keys To Finding a Good Recruiter
It is very possible that recruiters simply do not know that you are looking for a job, especially if you are unemployed. Contacting a recruiter with your resume may be the easiest way to get your name and face out to potential employers, particularly the decision-makers in the firm. Finding a good recruiter can be difficult; you could rely on the recommendations of those who have successfully worked with recruiters or research the web to review recruiting firms' web sites and reviews.
A good attorney recruiter will help you find employment by matching you with existing law firm jobs. Many recruiters have access to information about jobs that are not necessarily available through normal channels. By helping aspiring attorneys find jobs with top firms as well as "boutique" law practices, attorney recruiters can be a valuable resource, especially for attorneys who are just beginning a job search and are not sure where to look for the right type of employment.
Rifkin Consulting is proud to work with attorneys who face many types of challenges in finding the perfect jobs. For many years, Rifkin Consulting has helped California attorneys find the right jobs with the best law firms and has helped employers identify legal talent. Rifkin Consulting also works with attorneys who are currently employed in order to help them make lateral moves and improve their career prospects.
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.
As attorney recruiters, we see hundreds of resumes slide across our desks. Unfortunately, although this is an incredibly important part of your overall image, many people are unaware of how to craft a resume that screams hire me, not file me in the waste basket.
Your resume is the most important thing you send out when you are looking for a job. Preparing a resume should not be something you do the night before a job interview; in fact, your resume is an asset just as money in a bank account is an asset. It is also organic, changing, and growing as you gain experience. Updating your resume should be an ongoing activity, and there are specific rules you should follow as you work on perfecting this important document.
When seeking law jobs in CA, it's important for attorney candidates to understand the necessary elements to preparing a successful attorney resume. Our attorney recruitment firm offers editing services for attorney candidates as a standard service, but candidates can benefit from these necessary components.
If a candidate is self-submitting, he or she should be very aware of how impersonal these systems are. Although efficient, they do not “feel” the person with a cover letter or resume that has had professional guidance, and are less likely to make it to the next level. They are very key word driven, and every effort must be taken to have your submissions materials be impeccable. This is where a skilled attorney recruiter can offer help to a candidate that is invaluable.
One problem that everyone wants to have is deciding between two or more job offers. However, this can actually be a very emotionally challenging problem. Agonizing over two equally good jobs is difficult; it helps to “make a list” of the pros and cons of each job, but what factors should be important in choosing the right position?
As an experienced attorney recruiter, I often see how this choice plays out for attorney candidates. When candidates are torn between positions, there are often some factors which may provide the answer. Not all law jobs in California are created equally, so attorney candidates can use the following information to decide between the right position and a position that may just be ok.
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.
With the economy in recession, it may be difficult to find career opportunities that match your criteria, experience, and academic achievement. The economic crisis has left few jobs on the market and even lawyers are having difficulty trying to find employment that matches their requirements. You may have considered working with an attorney recruiter, but are still uncertain whether or not you should. Here are several reasons why an attorney recruiter can assist you in building an enriching and successful career as an attorney:
Appearance and Presentation:
Often, applicants do not hear back from potential employers because their cover letters and resumes are unsuccessful and ineffective. Most attorneys are so busy applying to numerous jobs that they do not research each law firm’s background and goals. Ultimately, many attorneys make the awful mistake of sending out generic and plain cover letters and resumes. This usually leads to fruitless results.
Cover letters should be tailored to the law firm and used to create a connection with the firm's recruiting department. If you are not referencing your knowledge of the firm or engaging the reader within the first paragraph, your cover letter will likely be tossed.
Additionally, if your resume and cover letter contain typographical errors, you will most likely not hear back from them. Your first impression, even though on paper, needs to be completely flawless. Fortunately, an attorney recruiter can edit your resume and draft an impressive cover letter while also providing background on the law firm to ensure that your presentation catches the reader's attention.
Interview and Impression:
Numerous applicants find the interview process utterly challenging with multiple phone and in person interviews. The process can be stressful, nerve-wracking, and brutal. It is of the utmost importance that you appear to be the right candidate for the position, but most often interviewees become nervous and fail to create the right impression. An attorney recruiter can help you with the interview process by providing effective tips to guide you in selling your skills and experience.
Ever heard the expression: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Well the statement rings completely true in searching for the right career opportunities. It is absolutely crucial to establish long-lasting connections and relationships in order to generate the best career opportunities. This may be a daunting task for a new or young attorney. At Rifkin Consulting, we offer the benefit of more than 25 years of experience with the legal industry and have many well established relations with successful law firms and exceptional attorneys.
Contact Rifkin Consulting
Whether you are a young associate or longtime partner, we can help provide you with employment opportunities for a permanent and successful career. Our attorney recruiters have your best interest in mind and will search for top tier law firms that exceed your requirements. Contact one of our consultants today so we can assist in achieving your long-term goals as an attorney.
Rejection hurts. As a society, we inherently associate rejection with failure—but we need to learn that rejection is a chance for us to react, respond, and recommit to our goals. While it may not seem like the case yet, being turned down by a potential employer might be the best thing that happened to you. Here are three reasons why you didn’t get the position you were hoping for, and how to improve your job search efforts in the future.
Not A Good Fit
One of the biggest challenges for any attorney recruiter is finding the right employee for the right company. Not only do applicants have to have the basic skills to do a job, but they must also be a good culture fit for the company. Your personality needs to meet that of the company you’re interested in.
If you think you’ll be a great fit, it may be difficult to convey your interests on paper without seeming too forward or giving too much information. In order to show off your personality and prove to the recruiter that you are the perfect candidate, do your homework. Research the company’s culture and reputation, and write your cover letter and resume in response to what you find.
Didn't Follow Directions
If a recruiter asks for a short cover letter, write a short letter. If they request salary requirements, be honest. If they ask for samples of your work or a link to your portfolio, do so. Recruiters spend hours searching for the right candidate. The last thing they want to do is exchange multiple emails asking you for documents or information that you should have sent them in the first try. Some might just ignore you completely if you didn't follow directions.
While you’re at it, make sure that you pay attention to details. Search your resume and cover letter for typographical or grammatical errors.
Lack of Basic Requirements
Simply put, you don’t meet the basic requirements. Maybe they’re looking for someone who has five years of experience, but you only have four. It’s not any fault of your own. At the end of the day, you’ll find a company that is the right fit for you, no matter what the requirements or culture. You just have to keep looking.
Your resume is the first impression you’ll have on your potential new employer, which is why it’s imperative that you make no mistakes. You don’t want to miss out on a perfect opportunity because of a small error that could have been prevented. Here are some of the most common mistakes that might break the deal.
At a glance, your resume should already say three things: what you do, what you want to do, and what you’ve done in the past to get you where you are now. No one wants to spend precious time digging through the slush for information that could easily have been conveyed more directly. Be specific in your descriptions, work history, and what you hope to accomplish.
Irrelevant Work Experience
While your work history may be a versatile compilation of jobs, you might want to reconsider including all of them in your resume. Employers are only interested in your experience so long as it is relevant to what you’ll be doing in your new position. Only include experience that you feel are related to the job you’re interviewing for.
When your resume is littered with grammatical mistakes and typographical errors, it conveys that your work is sloppy. If you don’t have time to fix up your resume, what makes the employer think that you won’t carry the same mentality into your position? Double check and triple check your resume for little mistakes.
Listing Tasks Instead of Achievements
It’s easy to list every mundane detail of your job, but that’s not what your new boss will search for. They’re looking for someone who can accomplish and meet goals. Instead of listing your tasks, write down your accomplishments and what goals you were able to meet at your position.
Too Much Information
While you want to give as much information about yourself, you should avoid going on for too long. Even though it's not set in stone for how long a resume should be, the general rule of thumb is to keep it to one page. However, if you must go on at great length about your many accomplishments, there is no real reason you can’t. As long as the information that you include is relevant, descriptive, and straight-to the point.
Too Little Information
And yet, while you’re trying to include only relevant information, you might end up leaving out the important bits altogether. Keep in mind that as long as you are descriptive and specific about your work experience, and stay relevant to the position to which you are applying, you’ll have a solid resume.
A Fluffy Objective
Employers do look at your resume objective, but often, applicants put a fluff statement that has nothing to do with the company or position they are applying for. If you’re going to put an objective at all, then make it as descriptive as possible. List realistically what you want to accomplish at your new position.
Lack of Action
Action words convey that you will work proactively to meet your goals. For example, instead of phrases like “I was responsible for a team of legal staff,” indicate that you “managed a team of legal staff.” Using verbs displays the message that you are ready to take charge and act.
Unless you are applying for an artistic position at a design company, keep your resume’s design simple and black and white. Space is limited when you’re trying to synopsize your life onto one sheet of paper. Make every inch count.
Out-of-Date Contact Information
What if the many interviewers you had all wanted to hire you, but couldn’t reach you because you included either wrong or out-of-date contact information? It’s one of those important details that you should check, and check again, or you could be missing out on many opportunities.
Part 2: How Overqualified Attorney Candidates Can Market Themselves as a Right Fit
The key is to be able to justify the employer’s consideration. An attorney candidate should be able to give the law firm a reasonable explanation for considering the adjustment. If a candidate is confident that he/she can do so, then “presentation” is the next hurdle to overcome.
In order for a job seeker to assure potential employers that they can adjust to the role and be a good fit, they should:
Overqualified attorney candidates are up against a hurdle in the job market. But with a little moxy, some preparation and determination, this is a hurdle that is possible to overcome.
Recently, we came across a wonderful candidate who was a shrewd attorney. However, he was not very technologically savvy. And it got me thinking, what are the new skills that attorneys need to remain competitive in today’s market?
Certainly legal abilities and a breadth of legal knowledge are required to perform well in an attorney position. But beyond the reason you fell in love with the law in the first place, there are often skills that attorneys discover they need along the way in order to remain competitive.
5 New Required Legal Core Competencies
Society has changed rapidly in the past decade, let alone over the past 4 decades. And during this time, the skills required of attorneys have changed with it. The new normal is an attorney who is a jack of all trades beyond just the legal competencies, including:
• Computer literate. In today’s society, an attorney needs to know how to use a computer. There’s just no getting around it anymore. Common programs such as Microsoft Office are standards in a law office environment these days as are skills like email and internet search capabilities. Many attorneys have in depth technological skills, but the basics remain the ability to type, print, and send an email.
• Customer service skills. The business of law is a service based industry. Today’s attorney understands that customer service is important and by providing the client with excellent service, they’ll be doing their part to ensure this client comes back for their next legal need.
• Networking pro. There are literally more legal graduates every year than there are spaces for new attorneys. To remain competitive in a saturated market, attorneys need to know how to market themselves as well as their legal skills. What sets you apart from the pack could be your ability to market yourself.
• Exceptional communication skills. Attorneys are often precise with their statements, but fail to grasp the communication style differences between people. To one person, the attorney can appear concise and to another, that same attorney can appear rude. Being aware of how to effectively communicate with different groups of people can ensure the correct message is heard every time.
• Time management. In days gone by, attorneys worked 12+ hour days in the dim of night to achieve results on behalf of the firm. Today’s new attorneys don’t want to sacrifice their free time in this manner, relying instead upon new technology to manage their time effectively. Attorneys can use updated technology that scans, sends, and receives items at the speed of light in order to do their job more efficiently. With a variety of excellent tools at their disposal, attorneys don’t need to lose track of time at the office all night.
Top tier law firms often seek flexible and intelligent candidates with these kinds of competencies. Try familiarizing yourself with these and see how you can add to your body of skills.
Part I: Understanding the Challenge
Why do hiring managers care one way or another if a job candidate is overqualified or over-educated? I think it’s important to understand some of the reasons that employers are reluctant to hire overqualified people. Uniquely, as an attorney recruiter, I work with both employers and attorney candidates to make the best professional match. We assist attorneys seeking more fulfilling employment that meets their long term goals. Employers use our services to identify, qualify, attract and engage stellar attorney talent to meet critical needs in their organizations.
Law firms are often reluctant to hire over-qualified people for several reasons. One of these is that lateral hiring is typically based on year of law school graduation and affects track for promotion to partnership. Additionally, “lateral level” usually reflects compensation and experience. It’s easy to see how adjustment of lateral level may cause colleagues to become resentful and result in conflict in the workplace. Alternatively, candidates themselves often end up resentful, as resentment can also result from (1) working on tasks that are too simplistic or unchallenging, or (2) feeling underpaid over time.
We also see that overqualified people are often from a different generation and, therefore, may have different work ethic issues and expectations than the Millenials. Some of our firm clients will consider a lateral adjustment of 1-2 years (based on year of graduation from law school, which is the gauge for our industry). However, if they go much beyond that, the aforementioned issues are likely to arise and the result is discord in the workplace environment. Overqualified candidates should seriously consider these possible career pitfalls before applying.
Part 2: Overcoming the Hurdle of Being Over-Qualified (stay tuned...)