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Ten Steps to an Outstanding LinkedIn Profile

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...

Special Note:
“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.

  1. Get a professional photo. Your photo is the first thing people see about you on LinkedIn—it will be seen every time you comment, make a recommendation, or write an update. Use a photo of your chest up that clearly shows your face. Dress professionally, as you would appear in court, and smile. Definitely don’t edit a wedding photo or have a distracting background.
  2. Use the “Professional Headline” to your advantage. Under your name, you can add a professional headline. Rather than a generic title, such as “Attorney,” use this section to your advantage by stating your practice area (e.g., “Family Law Attorney”). Let potential clients and professional connections immediately know your area of expertise.
  3. Complete the “Summary” background section. This is the most important part of your profile. You have about 10 seconds to capture the viewer’s attention and let them know who you are. Your summary section should state who your clients are and what you do for them. Make sure to describe the types of cases you handle in a way that nonlawyers can understand. A list of your specialties is also helpful. The summary is an excellent place to discuss past non-legal work that contributes to your law practice.
  4. Upload photos or videos. Below the summary section, add photos to make your profile visually interesting and make you more approachable. For example, include photos of you posing with clients, giving a professional presentation, or doing community service work. You can also add video from your website, interviews, etc.
  5. Request recommendations. Recommendations are the heart of your LinkedIn profile. Ask your past employers or clients for a personal recommendation discussing the quality of your work and service. Let past clients know that you don’t expect them to share their legal issue, just their thoughts on the level of service you provided. Remember to return the favor and recommend others who you hold in high esteem. Note that “recommendations” differ from “endorsements.” If you choose to have your skills listed and have people “endorse you,” keep the list of skills short and don’t accept endorsements from anyone you don’t know or for skills you didn’t list yourself.
  6. Invite people to connect. The quality of your contacts is far more important than the quantity. View others’ profiles and link with those with whom you intend to work in the future or who already know the quality of your past work. Personalize your invitation: “Hello: This is John Smith. We met at last night’s fundraiser. I would like you to join my LinkedIn network.” If you already know someone in common, this would be an ideal place to mention your shared connection.
  7. Complete the “Publications” section. List all articles and books you have written, as well as oral presentations you have made before professional groups.
  8. Complete the “Volunteer & Causes” section. This little-used section allows you to share the community service projects and non-profit activities in which you and your firm are involved. People enjoy working with attorneys who share their own personal causes.
  9. Join groups. There are many LinkedIn groups specifically geared toward attorneys and law practice, e.g., groups for law schools, bar associations, practice areas, legal marketing, etc. Find groups of interest and join the conversation there. Showing the groups you have joined on your profile helps others see your interests and leads to new connections.
  10. Write an update. Once you have a strong profile set up, you’re ready to start posting updates—and your interesting updates will likely bring people back to view your profile. Share updates about your law practice, changes in the law, and information of interest to your colleagues and clients. You can link to a blog post or article by inserting its URL in the update box. If you don’t have time to write a regular blog, this is an excellent way to provide relevant and insightful opinions on legal issues.

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!
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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.


Get My Attention – Send a Respectable Cover Letter!

Recently I read an article by a recruiter who very straightforwardly acknowledged that she often receives unimpressive application materials from job-seekers.  This is often a non-starter and the result is…Delete.  Why?  I would not hire someone who either isn’t willing, able or savvy enough to realize how important this first stage of the screening process is.

When I say “unimpressive”, I’m referring to more than just the resume and academics – I am including and focusing on the cover letter here because the cover letter, which is typically the first impression a reviewer gets, is either poorly written or there is none. 

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH? The increasing use of email vs. snail mail has resulted in fewer cover letters than ever.  Frequently I receive email submissions with no cover letter – no introduction at all.  Attached is a resume with no explanation why the applicant is considering a job change or what position they seek.  Those that really make me shake my head address me as the employer, rather than a recruiter.  They clearly don’t know where they are even sending their resume!  Not only does it require extra effort on my part to obtain this necessary information, but their apparent lack of basic understanding about this process often leaves me feeling that the lack of attention to detail reflects a lack of professionalism…and that is a real turn-off.  Alternatively, perhaps the candidate has so much self-confidence that he believes that resume speaks for itself, but this is a huge assumption to make.

MATCH YOUR SKILLS TO THE JOB:  Stunningly, I get numerous resumes from applicants who aren’t even attorneys.  Anyone with basic internet skills and has visited our web site knows that we only work with attorneys.  This seems either lazy or desperate to me – and the resume is deleted.  What a waste of precious time on both our parts!  Wouldn’t they research an employer before an interview? Respect your own time, as well as mine.

RECRUITERS ARE THE “GATEKEEPERS”.  Candidates must pass our scrutiny in order to get in front of our employer clients.  If your cover letter and accompanying materials don’t show thought, clarity, and relevant details at a glance, they just won’t make the cut.  We want to help you get a job – that’s why we are in this business.  Take the time to do a thorough and professional job if you truly expect to be taken seriously.


What An Employer Looks For in an Applicant: The Basics

Part 3;   How to Start Networking and Get a Job

  • Submissions of application materials: Make it personal. Submissions should always be addressed to an individual – not “To Whom It May Concern”.  Methods of delivery; adhere to any requirements. Don’t use first names unless you know the recipient.  Follow up in 10 days if you have not heard from the firm.  Stay professional, and remember that they have many other responsibilities on their plates besides considering your application.  Don’t be a pest.

  • Impeccably-drafted resume; avoid flourishes and designs, excessive bolding or underlining, and pay attention to the nature of personal interests listed.  It’s preferable to keep interests off unless you have particular accomplishments that set you apart.  Examples might be language fluency, international travel or managerial positions.

  • Writing sample: If you include a writing sample, make sure that it contains absolutely no inaccuracies or misspellings.

  • Transcript: include with initial submission only if required by the firm, unless you have stellar grades.

  • Cover letters:  Covers must be concise and address why you are interested in THAT firm, and how your interest and skills can BENEFIT that firm.  They will not consider you just because you need a job.  Take the time to get to know people and their needs, because the only reason they would hire you is if you can fill those needs anyway.  Thank them for their consideration – not their time.  Tell them, primarily, some things of interest that are NOT on your resume – or you can also emphasize items of significance.  Limit the use of the word “I” – employers want to know what you can do for them NOW!

  • Activities: Keep them relevant, or that show leadership and/or managerial skills.

  • Show confidence, but not arrogance. You can accomplish this by being familiar with the firm, and comfortable with who you are. Be prepared to express your goal(s) articulately and concisely.

  • You must have a reasonable understanding of what the attorney and firm does - do your homework!

  THE BIGGEST MISTAKES STUDENTS MAKE; THE SHORT LIST

  • There is no second chance to make a first impression!  Arrive prepared for the interview.  Don’t be late.   Dress appropriately; wear a suit unless otherwise instructed (professional dress shows a potential employer how you would present to a client).

  • Prepare for questions about your skills and goals and offer examples.  Don’t embellish or get defensive, as no one expects a law student or entry level attorney to have a lot of experience.

  • Tell me what you can do for me right now!  Show initiative, be prepared to discuss your strengths, but do so in the context of examples.

  • It’s not all about YOU, or what YOU want.  Focus primarily on their needs and goals, so that you can make a more informed decision about whether that firm is a fit for you. For example, ask what the ideal candidate looks like to them.

  • Don’t talk too much! Learn to listen – listen to learn!

  • GRADES: Don’t make the mistake if thinking that achieving a J.D. is enough to get a good job.  Grades will almost always matter for approximately 7-10+ years, as well as your accomplishments.

  • Be aware of verbal and non-verbal behavior – these are both important parts of your personal presence.

  • Don’t underestimating the importance of generational differences; realize that the person interviewing you is likely from a different generation and has worked many years to achieve what he/she has, including long hours and many sacrifices.  Millennials are considered to want to achieve things quickly and want work/life balance from the start.  

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?

  • Choose events with intention and purpose.  Your time is valuable.
  • See if you can obtain the attendance list, and research people on the list. You can make efforts to introduce yourself to targeted attendees at the event.
  • Be genuine, smile, use direct eye contact, and develop a good handshake.  Learn how to walk up to strangers and introduce yourself.  Practice how to creatively ask about them about themselves.  An example might be to avoid saying “what do you do”, but consider something a bit more personal such as “What is the nature of your business (practice”, or “What do you enjoy most about your specialty”.
  • Have a business card made that is professional and represents your brand.  This is a wonderful tool to provide to someone who asks for your contact information.  It need not include your address. Share it with intention.
  • When it’s time to move on and talk to someone else, you need a graceful way to accomplish this.  For example, “It’s really been a pleasure speaking with you.” 
  • Follow up with a short note after the 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 .


How to Start Networking and Get a Job

PART 2; HOW TO GET STARTED NETWORKING 
 
MAKE CONNECTIONS, DEVELOP THE RELATIONSHIPS

  • Approach: Network with Intention; implement an intentional and strategic approach, both (a) online and (b) in person.
  • Lay the groundwork.  If you avail yourself of too many venues and events you will likely end up  feeling scattered, exhausted and ineffective.  Narrow your scope, set incremental goals, and strategize about methods of implementation to achieve them.


I. SOCIAL NETWORKING AND RELATED VENUES

LinkedIn: enjoy a 360 degree resume – for free!

  • Employers and other professionals view these; they often act as a preliminary “screen” 
  • Complete your profile; provide the information of a resume, yet with a slightly personal/individual touch
  • Ask for – and give - recommendations (better than endorsements). Get clients and advocates to tell your story!  
  • Take a seminar on how to make your profile very searchable, be specific in your summary
  • Develop a professional Blog and link to it
  • Get involved with Groups and participate in the discussions
  • Post relevant and appropriate photos (i.e., professional activities, charitable activities) 


TWITTER & FACEBOOK

  • Be cautious about postings, despite your privacy settings
  • Be clear with yourself and others (in the nature of the content) about the purpose of the postings/use of the site (keep it appropriately personal or professional – best not to combine these). 
     

II. IN PERSON NETWORKING

  • Personal networking has become paramount.  WHY?   The connections students might make early on can really help when it comes time to fill a position. It's never too late to start.
  • Take the time to get to know people and their needs, because the only reason they would hire you is if you can fill those needs anyway. 
  • Make it manageable!  Network with Intention – Narrow your Scope to Start: Find 10 people in the professional space that are doing something you want to do, meet them and ask how they got there. If you earn that group’s trust person by person, you’ll be well on your way to a reputation as someone with a clear purpose in the job market.
  • Practice asking meaningful questions – including with people you know, like family members.  You might be surprised at what you learn
  • Informational interviews: Contact someone whose specialty interests you and request a coffee, lunch or brief office informational meeting.  Be clear about your intention, for example, “Mr. Smith, as a student at Loyola Law School who is interested in learning more about the practice of employment law, would you be willing to meet me briefly for coffee to discuss the profession?  I am interested in learning more about the nuances, recent trends and your opinion of the future of this practice area.”  Attorneys like to talk about what they do and they'll probably take you up on it.
  • Research the person and be familiar with recent news in order to have a meaningful discussion.  Once you have their attention, you can show the value you would bring to them – regardless of whether or not you work for them in the future.
  • DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB!  Instead, ask what they would suggest for someone entering their field.  
     

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.

  • Follow up with a sincere thank you note. 
  • Calendar to follow up with that person periodically.
  • Keep them in mind!  For example, occasionally send them a relevant article or even a referral when possible.  Do not expect anything in return.
  • It’s crucial to remember that others have a circle of influence.  You never know when they might mention you to someone they know who can make a meaningful difference in your life.
  • Consider keeping a chart, such as Excel, with your networking efforts and status
     

VENUES FOR NETWORKING

  • Take advantage of any OCS programming, career fairs, mock interviews, etc. that are offered. This is another way to meet people and to sharpen skills in the process.
  • Often local bar organizations have a reduced (or free) rate for students to attend (usually) monthly events. This is a great way to meet attorneys and figure out what firms and practice areas might be busy/hiring.
  • Volunteer positions could lead to paying jobs... positions like a judicial externship are quite  valuable because the judge will often serve as a reference in helping to secure the next job.
  • Don't ignore public interest (and government, though they usually aren't hiring straight out of law school) because of fear of student loans.
  • Educate yourself on flexible (and generous) loan payback options such as the IBR (income based repayment) which pegs your monthly payment to a fixed percent of discretionary income and you can qualify for loan forgiveness (of federal loans) after 10 years of repayment (doesn't have to be in the same job). 
  • Don't forget to check the job postings in the Daily Journal, they often have positions that are not posted online
  • Mine the school's alumni network. Meeting with alumni could lead to a job, or if an alumni member hears of a job they might think of the student who reached out to them
 
To Be Continued In Part 3; What an Employer Looks For In an Applicant

 


How to Start Networking and Get a Job

Part One; Why You Must Network

Based on a presentation at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles on 2/12/14. 

INTRODUCTION

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
  • How Do You Get Started?
  • What an Employer Seeks in an Applicant; Do’s and Don’ts 
     

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

  • Your “brand’ is what people think of when they hear your name (or company) – it’s an intangible business asset that distinguishes you from others.  It can be hard to define, but until you do it’s hard to clearly articulate to others “who” you are. 

  • Your “reputation” is what they think about you as a person, such as having integrity and being reliable. 

  • How do you hone your message and how do you communicate it to those you meet?

  • I suggest working with a trusted friend or colleague to develop a brief introduction that is clear and compelling, and

  • Be patient, as this takes time and regular re-evaluation.  [More on developing your message in a future article].

  • You must provide value; the law firm world has changed.  Gone are the days when you worked for a firm, did good work, and made partner in 6 years…and remained there happily ever after.  More than ever, however, law firms are viewed as a business and so you need to provide VALUE if you want to be hired – and remain employed. The new “reality” is that your “value” will be closely connected with the clients/business that you bring to a firm.  This is achieved by networking, and developing relationships with people who will hire or refer you based on their perception of your brand and reputation.

  • Start planning now to be a business generator, by making connections and nurturing them. Doing so will not only help you now – but also in the future by enhancing your job security.  Once you have a client base that generates business, you gain independence and freedom – to make choices based on your personal needs and desires.

  • Utilize your Millennial Edge to your Advantage!  Law School students and young attorneys are typically referred to as “Millennials”.  The Millennial generation is known for being technologically savvy – it’s vital that you make sure you are also “people-savvy” if you want to succeed.

  • Learn the proper way to make a referral, and to accept a referral
  • Learn to listen – listen to learn
  • Practice following up with connections
  • Adopt an attitude of not expecting immediate results, or receiving anything in return
     

To be continued in Part 2:  How To Get Started


Secrets To Getting Recruiters To Work With You

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. 


Help! I Hate My New Job!

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:

  • Do you have another job waiting?  In some cases, attorneys take jobs only to receive a much better offer.  If you have another firm that has extended you an offer, it is much easier to jump ship with fewer negative consequences than if you simply quit abruptly with no prospects.
  • Are you being discriminated against?  There are some actions that can be construed as illegal discrimination such as sexual harassment.  If you are experiencing illegal harassment or discrimination, talk to another attorney immediately who specializes in these cases.  Never attempt to handle a situation such as this on your own.
  • Is there a chance of changing your job assignments?  Perhaps what is bothering you about your job is not the people you work with but the work itself.  Talk to your supervisor to see if your talents are being utilized fully.  If not, make suggestions for changes and be prepared to do some extra work to show your bosses where your talents lie.
  • Have you changed jobs suddenly in the past?  When it comes to a rapid job change, establishing a pattern is far more damaging than one “do over.”  While there will always be employers who will eye you askance if you quit a job after only a few weeks, most understand that anyone can get into one bad situation.  However, if you change jobs routinely, you are letting everyone know that you would rather leave than work out any problems you may have with a firm, its members or your job duties.

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.


What to Ask Your Attorney Recruiter

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. 


Resume Prepping

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.

  • Your resume must be perfect.  No ifs, ands or buts—your resume is not allowed to have errors.  This is the cardinal rule of resume writing.  You are not allowed to have spelling errors, grammatical problems, or anything else that could be construed as a mistake.  This may seem harsh, but jobs have been lost over a single spelling error in a resume.  Remember, in many cases people will be looking at your resume long before they meet you, so this is your only chance to make a good first impression.  If you're seeking placement at a top tier law firm, your resume must be impeccable.

  • Edit, edit, edit.  The way to avoid costly errors in your resume is to edit more than once and through different channels.  Start by writing out your resume “warts and all” and then begin trimming, tweaking and fixing it until you believe it is perfect.  It would not be at all remiss to edit your resume ten different times before finally settling on the perfect draft, and you may have to edit even more often. 

  • Get help.  The more eyes that see your resume, the better.  After you have edited, ask for help from others.  Start with a friend or relative.  Ask him or her to read it carefully with pen in hand and circle any areas that are unclear or seem to contain errors.  Re-read your resume with the edits; you will be surprised at how a fresh set of eyes finds mistakes you missed or points out things that are unclear.  Edit with these changes in mind, then have another person read it, then another until you are satisfied that the changes you have made are the right ones.

  • Use professionals.  Paying for help in writing your resume is not a sign of weakness but of wisdom.  Professionals can help you determine the best way to phrase information, what to include and exclude and can give your final resume draft the editing it needs to ensure perfection. If you pay professionals, be sure they have experience in the legal field.  Our legal recruitment firm is happy to help candidates edit their resumes to land the perfect job.  If you land the perfect job as a result of your resume, it is well worth seeking professional help.

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.



Benefits of Working With an Attorney Recruiter

Attorney Recruiting

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.  

Networking:

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. 


Ask a Recruiter – Part 3; Why Do You Ask Me So Many Questions?

I’ve noticed that the most informed and highly-regarded attorney recruiters want to obtain a lot of information from me.  What if I don’t want to tell them about my salary or why I want to leave my job?  Can’t they just tell me what jobs are available in the market?

Understanding several things about professional recruiters will not only answer these questions, but will also enhance your overall recruiting experience.

  • Recruiters are compensated by the law firm (client) – not the attorney candidate.
  • Reputation, integrity and information are an attorney recruiters’ most valuable assets.
  • Relationships should be established that are based on trust, candor and good communication.

Given that recruiters are compensated by the clients, it’s crucial that we carefully screen candidates for important information; examples of this would be salary, required compensation, ability to relocate, hours regularly billed, and about their evaluations.  In-depth screening helps us determine whether a candidate is a good fit for a particular job, a personality fit for a prospective employer, and helps us to assess whether a candidate will be communicative and forthcoming during the placement process.  This information should be kept in the strictest confidence (at Rifkin Consulting, we take this seriously and have a Privacy Statement on our website.  Read it here

The recruiting process frequently takes a good deal of time.  However, there are often times when we need a timely response from a candidate, such as when scheduling an interview.  If we are working with a candidate who is difficult to track down and does not show genuine interest in exploring opportunities, then it's better to know this early on so that we can direct our efforts on placements that are more likely to move forward and with candidates who are more willing.

Specific job information is rarely shared during a first call or email.  Our insider information is a valuable asset – and recruiters want to feel confident that a candidate will not utilize this information outside of the relationship for self-gain.  Sounds terrible – but it happens.  Therefore, it’s important that we first try to determine whether this job seeker is serious about a job search and willing to be loyal and work together once information is shared.  There are several ways this can be ascertained, such as if the candidate quickly sends a resume other requested materials and information that are crucial to the process.  Additionally, it’s very important for a candidate to provide a list of any submissions that have already been made, so that the recruiter can move forward in an informed manner and not duplicate efforts.  Once a candidate takes advantage of a recruiter or is dishonest, the relationship can rarely be repaired. 

We are your managers, your counselors... facilitating the process on your behalf from beginning to end.  With mutual respect,  the relationship can be rewarding, long-term and successful!


Ask a Recruiter – Part 2; Hello...is Anybody There?

I have sent my resume to several attorney recruiters and none of them responded.  Couldn’t they have at least said “sorry, not a fit”, “we’ll keep it on file”, or “get lost!”?  Why does it seem like a black hole when I send my resume to inquire about a job?

At Rifkin Consulting, we truly understand your frustration about the general lack of response from many recruiters.  In our office, while we make a concerted effort to respond to every resume that we receive, it’s just not feasible to expect a personal phone call or response in all cases.  Let me explain why, from my perspective…..

Most resumes that recruiters receive are unsolicited.  While this is not unusual, it’s possible for a successful recruiter to receive dozens of resumes each day.  Sometimes, the resumes we receive aren’t even from lawyers (which make us wonder if they even understand where they are sending it!).  Many others are clearly not on point for the job about which they are inquiring.  In any business, time must be used most efficiently in order to be successful – and recruiting is no exception.  Trying to balance this hard cold fact with compassion is not always easy, and a recruiter’s time must necessarily be spent primarily with candidates who they can place. 

Responding to every resume that comes in would take a huge amount of time – and would take away from our efforts and obligations to our active candidates.  Think about your own work day; would you be able to add an extra hour daily to an effort that doesn’t produce business?  No matter how much you wish you could…it’s just not feasible.  Recruiters don’t mean to be rude or lacking in compassion – they just have to prioritize their work as anyone else does.

We review every resume that reaches our desk and screen it carefully for a possible job match now – or in the future.  We try to respond to each – even if to just acknowledge its receipt.  Try not to take it personally if you don’t receive an email or a phone call – we aim for excellence in our profession and are known for good communication with candidates and law firm clients – but there are just so many hours in a day!


10 Common Resume Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

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.

Vague Descriptions

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.

Typos

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.

Visual Overload

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.


How Overqualified Attorney Candidates Can Market Themselves as a Right Fit

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:

  • Prepare a succinct cover letter that emphasizes why you are interested in this particular position and how your skills can benefit this specific company.
  • Work with a professional to ensure that your resume is spot-on: form, experience, skills required for the job.  This is particularly important since many companies today use online applicant tracking systems to review candidates electronically – many resumes are automatically eliminated during the screening process if they don’t contain the relevant “buzzwords”.  Caution – it’s important to sound genuine, as well as to be honest, in your representations.
  • Present your industry knowledge and transferrable skills clearly and concisely to the employer, with specific examples of situations where you were successful.  These examples should be relevant to the potential employer’s business, goals and culture.  Quantify your successes or accomplishments, where possible.  If presented with the opportunity to interview, preparation and presentation are crucial, and must be consistent with your written application. Add something here about the importance of both articulation and non-verbal communication.

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. 


OVER-QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB YOU WANT?

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...)


FINDING A JOB; BLEND THE OLD AND THE NEW

Recently I read an article that counseled job-seekers to skip some of the traditional methods of finding a job, such as having business cards and actively networking.  Instead, this author insisted that the internet was the sole effective venue to connect with others, thereby enhancing your job potential. I strongly disagree!

We are fortunate to live and work in an age where we have the opportunity to connect both personally and electronically.  While the message may be similar, the methods of communication are very different!  Accordingly, our messages and strategies should accommodate and incorporate these differences.

I’m a firm believer that there is no substitute for meeting with someone face to face, speaking eye to eye, experiencing a handshake, experiencing one’s physicality and body language - particularly when a disagreement needs to be discussed.  Similarly, experiencing and assessing another’s social skills are often crucial to an employer’s business hiring decision.  Smart, strategic networking in your local area affords you the opportunity to make an impression that can’t be accomplished in an equal way online.

Make sure that, if you do have a business card, it’s very professional (avoid cheap paper stock, use a reputable company).  This doesn’t mean you need to spend a small fortune, especially if you are in-between jobs, but you always want to put your best foot forward.  It’s nice to be able to provide a potential employer (as well as other advocates and sources), with your contact information.

New methods of recruiting and self-marketing include a variety of online social media sources.   It’s true that you can reach a larger audience to get your name and skills “out there”, however, you will need to be strategic unless you are open to relocation.  Linkedin offers you the advantage of Search options for researching and contacting professionals that best meet your needs.  You can also ask contacts for other introductions, and post your resume and other appropriate documents on this site using Dropbox.  Pay proper attention to your profile for SEO purposes.  Always remember that the web is very impersonal, even if many people are viewing your photo as well as your profile. Should you choose to connect or respond online or by email, it’s important to remember that the written word rarely is taken as it was intended.  Therefore, a great deal of thought should go into any printed word.

Two more things to keep in mind, no matter which venue you use – find a way to set yourself apart, and try to pursue your passion in your work.  The first can be accomplished by utilizing professional coaching services and asking those you know best for honest assessments of your personality and strengths.  If you can combine your passion with your profession, the challenges of each day will certainly be minimized.  Unfortunately, too many people accept work in an area in which they have no interest – and often this is necessary.  However, you have nothing to lose by trying to pursue your passion through your work – and everything to gain!

By Diane Rifkin, Esq.
President, Rifkin Consulting
Visit me on LinkedIn

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Rifkin Consulting assists attorneys with finding fulfilling employment, and works closely with employers seeking to hire stellar attorney talent to fill critical positions in their organizations.

Law firms turn to Rifkin Consulting for counsel regarding attorney retention, compensation analysis, and strategic growth to maintain a competitive edge in the legal market. www.rifkinconsulting.com


REVISE YOUR RESUME TODAY, BENEFIT IMMEDIATELY

Have you been too busy at work or with your personal life to give thought to revising your resume?  If you think that your position seems secure, then you might believe that you can always update it when the “time” arrives.  At Rifkin Consulting, we find that being pro-active with regard to your resume on a regular basis is crucial for several reasons:

  • One obvious reason is for you to be prepared to act when a special opportunity arises.

  • A less obvious reason is that keeping your resume up to date reminds you of what you have accomplished, as well as where you need to make improvements.

Let’s discuss making your resume stand out from others!  Most resumes are experience-oriented, and follow a standard format.  An example of this would be:

  • Experience in wide range of civil litigation matters including residential real estate breach of contract disputes; easement, zoning and riparian right disputes; and construction defect cases

  • Experience in all stages of pre-trial civil litigation including drafting complaints, serving and responding to discovery requests, drafting motions and settlement agreements

  • Drafted and reviewed purchase contracts and drafted easements for residential real estate transactions

How can you change your resume to make it more dynamic, more interesting, and more meaningful?  Quantify your accomplishments!  Here is an example:

  • Experience in more than two dozen civil litigation matters including residential real estate breach of contract disputes;

  • Responsible for managing pre-trial litigation including drafting  dozens of complaints, serving and responding to more than twenty (20) discovery requests, drafting numerous motions and settlement agreements,

  • Personally drafted and reviewed fifteen (15) purchase contracts and drafted ten (10) easements for residential real estate transactions.

As a result, a potential employer will not only see it in writing - they will feel it.  Your experience becomes less vague and more tangible. The employer can better assess whether your expertise might meet their needs.  We see on a daily basis that a dynamic resume catches the eye more than a passive one.

Here is the key:  ask yourself two (2) things:

  • Would YOU hire this person? 

  • Could your resume be submitted by nearly anyone in your practice area and at your lateral level?  If so, then you should discard it and begin anew.

It is human nature to become complacent when we are busy and feel relatively productive.  Reviewing our accomplishments regularly in this manner keeps us on our toes…which is exactly where we need to be – in any kind of economy!

Rifkin Consulting offers complimentary resume guidance to our candidates.  Confidentiality remains of the utmost importance.

By Diane Rifkin, Esq.
President, Rifkin Consultlng
Follow me on Linkedin

Visit www.rifkinconsulting.com to learn more about how our attorney recruiters can advance your career!

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Rifkin Consulting attorney recruiters offer complimentary resume guidance to our candidates.  Confidentiality remains of the utmost importance.