There are some things you should know about lawyers. For the most part, we’re suspicious (both by nature and by training), detail-oriented, and risk-averse. That means law firms and legal departments tend to be conservative work environments. That’s the audience of your legal resume. Knowing your audience is important because resumes are essentially marketing documents designed to get an employer to call you in for an interview, so targeting your resume toward a specific type of employer and a specific types of job increases the chance your resume will be successful in its goal. What makes an employer want to call you? Well, the employer has a specific need that he’s looking to fill. That need has a technical, “hard skill” component (for example, ability to speak fluent French), but also a “soft skill” component (for example, ability to work well in a team). Further, the employer is also looking to see that you understand his industry, business model, and corporate culture. Certainly you know that your resume needs to demonstrate both your hard and soft skills. But whether you’re aware of it or not, your resume is also demonstrating to the employer your understanding (or lack thereof) of his industry, business model, and corporate culture. So, how do the differences between legal resumes and business resumes reflect the differences between lawyers and business people? The Pitch. Business people are often selling themselves to potential employers as creative innovators who have delivered specific results in the past and who can therefore be counted on to achieve specific results in the future. On the other hand, lawyers can be creative problem-solvers also, but they are primarily selling their experience, expertise, and most of all their professional judgment. This difference affects the entire tone of the resume. The Look. A talented resume writer can use smart layouts, different fonts, color, highlighting, and graphics to make a killer business resume that can really help to open doors in the business world. The problem is these strategies don’t work well in the legal world. Lawyers tend to be late-adopters and so the hiring attorneys I’ve talked to are nearly universal in their criticism of these looks. Unless you’re applying to work in a firm or company that prides itself on being cutting edge, hiring attorneys want to see what they’re accustomed to seeing: Times New Roman-like fonts, black text, simple bullets, and minimal graphics. Your resume is not the place to introduce them to new techniques (however meritorious). The Structure. The best business resumes use some form of the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) or CAR (Challenge, Action, Result) formulas bolstered with quantifiable achievements. This structure doesn’t translate well into the legal world. Most legal activities have no readily quantifiable component, and many times the results aren’t just due to the attorneys’ skills (How difficult is the case? Are the law and facts in your favor? Are your clients and adversaries reasonable?). Also, unlike a lot of professionals, lawyers have mandatory ethical rules enforced by their bar associations and the courts that prevent them from promising results, creating false expectations, implying they can achieve specific results, comparing their quality of services to other attorneys, etc. The Language. Lawyers are trained to be advocates, and to use facts and language to their advantage. They have a limit, however, and that limit is lower than business people’s. They’re suspicious about language that seems “salesy,” exaggerated, or overly technical. Be wary of trying to impress them by using superlatives and unnecessary legalese. Junior attorneys in particular have to be very careful not to appear to take credit for successful team efforts. So while your resume is a marketing document, it needs to market you very carefully. The Attention to Detail. Some lawyers boast about their near-OCD attention to detail. It’s part of what makes them good attorneys. When it comes to resumes, it means that they can be even more sensitive than other employers. Punctuation, formatting, typos, organization, parallel structure, flow, inconsistencies, and focus are important in any resume, but they’re critical in legal resumes. Remember attention to detail in language isn’t just desirable for attorneys, it’s a minimal job qualification. Legal business resume difference image from Shutterstock
We get it. Looking for work can be scary, especially if you’ve been at it for a long time and haven’t gotten any results.
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- Utilize strategies for coping with your job search fears
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The business seems to be doing better, but you have reporting to show how well it's actually doing? You want to collect data and turn it into information. This allows the business to make decisions based on actionable reporting. How much business intelligence (BI) does your organization have?
COTS Applications For Actionable Reporting
Most COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) applications will have standard/canned reports. These are the “common” reports used by customers. If you’re implementing a new system and there are many standard reports, start with 10 top reports so you don’t overwhelm the end users. If you’re not sure what these are, ask the vendor to recommend them (especially if you’re changing your process and following the vendor’s best practice). Then the end users can utilize other standard reports as they get more comfortable and familiar with the application.
For example, if you just purchased a new phone system for the call center, find the reports that detail measurements such as the number of calls, dropped calls, wait time, peak times, etc.
Identify and define key performance indicators (KPIs), which are measurable values to analyze for better decision making. KPIs may be related to a specific function, line of business, or group of individuals. You can take a group of KPIs and create a dashboard. For example, some KPIs related to the help desk are:
- Tickets by status (e.g., open, on hold, completed, canceled)
- Tickets assigned by technician
- Average resolution time
- Rate of first-time resolutions
- Customer satisfaction
Once you’re comfortably leveraging the standard reports, you may want to ask the vendor (or your team’s developer/programmer) to customize standard reports or create custom reports with additional specific information you’re looking for. This may involve combining data from multiple tables within the application.
Two typical ways to serve these reports: 1) “push” reports to the end users on a scheduled frequency such as via email daily; or 2) have the end user “pull” reports which gives them the ability to access the reports as needed.
But reporting isn’t limited to COTS applications. You can create remarkable reports using Excel such as PivotTables, Pivot Charts, or Slicers.
Other Tips & Tools For Actionable Reporting
Another phenomenal visualization tool that is part of Office 365 is Power BI. It’s part of the Microsoft family (similar to Excel) so it’s straightforward to use. You can create a dashboard visualizing year-over-year comparisons, market segmentations, drill downs, etc.
If you’re new to Power BI, you can download the free desktop version (which admittedly does have limitations). If you find that Power BI does meet your basic reporting needs and you want more, then you can upgrade to the Pro license.
If you have enormous amounts of data, you may want to consider creating a data lake (raw data) or data warehouse (structured data). You can pull in data from multiple disparate systems into one central repository. There are ETL (extract transform load) tools to load the data into the data warehouse. You can cube the data so that the end users can roll up, drill down, and slice the data, do “what if” scenarios, etc.
TIP: If you allow end users to create their own reports, it’s critical that they understand the various data fields. Are you able to give them some type of data dictionary, or are they able to certify the results? It would be disastrous if they selected the wrong date or revenue field which produced incorrect results and sent the report to the board of directors.
Other reporting considerations:
1. Have a separate reporting database so that you don’t affect the production database. You don’t want an end user to kick off a complex query inadvertently causing production response to come to a crawl or even freeze.
- If you do set up a reporting database you need to decide how frequently the data will be updated—real time, once in the evening, etc.
2. Data needs to be secured appropriately (security). Who should have access to specific data fields should be determined by the data owner. For example, only a small handful of people should be able to access salary/payroll information.
3. Data should be classified such as public, internal, confidential, or restricted. Access should be controlled as appropriate.
4. Create a customer portal (extranet) to empower your customers (also partners and vendors) so that they can pull their own reports and information.
There is a quote by Lois Horowitz: “Not having the information you need when you need it leaves you wanting. Not knowing where to look for that information leaves you powerless. In a society where information is king, none of us can afford that.”
For more information on actionable reporting, follow me on LinkedIn!
The interview is one component of the job search process that most people love to hate. While it serves as a sign from the employer that you are being strongly considered for a position, it also can be a source of angst for candidates who fear they'll make mistakes that will cut them out of the running.
A great way to overcome the anxiety interviews produce is to begin feeling good about the process. Need help getting there? Here are five ways to build confidence for a job interview.
One great way to build your confidence going into the interview is by conducting plenty of research on the company and the position that you're going after. A common question interviewers ask is, "Do you know anything about our company?" Most times, candidates give vague answers, or—in a worst-case scenario—answer, "No."
If you're able to share the company's background information and showcase knowledge of its future goals for the position in question, you'll have an opportunity to impress the interviewer.
Review Common Interview Questions And Practice ThemBigstock
By understanding how to answer common interview questions, particularly behavioral interview questions, you'll build a lot of confidence going into the job interview.
Another great way to build confidence for a job interview is to practice before the big day. You can do this by answering questions in front of a mirror to read your own facial expressions and body language, or you could have a friend help you with a mock interview.
It's also great to find a professional outfit you feel comfortable wearing. Feeling good in your clothes and knowing you've fully prepared can work wonders for boosting your confidence before a job interview.
Make Sure You Have No Skeletons
An important step in preparing for your interview is being able to recall your own career history and discuss prospective goals with the company and in your professional life as a whole. But, as you look back over your career, be sure to research yourself online to ensure there are no skeletons on the internet that could be brought up in your interview.
Remember, companies conduct background checks often via search engines, so it's up to you to ensure your social media profiles are professional and/or private.
It's normal to feel some anxiety before a job interview, but you can take steps to minimize those nerves. We hope these tips help you build confidence for your next job interview and shine in the hiring process!
Need more help building confidence for a job interview?
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.