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
Getting through to the job interview stage in the hiring process means the employer believes you have the right experience and skills for the job on paper. But now comes the real deal-breaker: whether you can communicate those skills effectively in person and come off as the right fit for the company's workplace culture.
There are typical red flags employers watch for in job interviews. Any one red flag can reduce your chances of getting a job offer, so here's what you need to avoid in your next job interview...
1. Poor Communication
This includes everything from talking too little, talking too much, or simply having poor nonverbal behavior like a lack of eye contact or making the situation uncomfortable with poor body language. When it comes to questions and answers, a job candidate who can't provide effective responses to questions that are necessary to assess their experience and skills is always a problem.
Be prepared to address every point you have on your resume. And when an employer presents a follow-up question like "Tell me more about..." they are trying to dig deeper either because they're curious, or you provided an insufficient response.
An inability to communicate well in a job interview will leave the employer questioning whether you do have the experience and skills you say you have on paper.
2. Question Of Permanency
When an employer puts out a job offer, it's going to be to someone they believe is committed to the job—not to someone who's simply looking to fill in an employment gap until a more fitting job comes along. Any reasonable job seeker wouldn't present such a front, but sometimes casual conversation can lead you to say things that are better off unsaid.
Avoid talking about challenges in your job search or how you were looking for a job in fashion marketing, but somehow you're now applying for this job in healthcare marketing. It brings to question if you're really interested in the job the employer has to offer.
Also, avoid talking about any long-distance relationships and try not to mention that your spouse and kids remain in another state. The employer will question if your personal situation may impact your job loyalty down the road if a relocation package is not going to be a part of the offer. And if they ask where you want to be in three years, answer with a position that corresponds with their growth opportunities.
3. Bad Talk
The purpose of the interview is to demonstrate why you're a great candidate for the job and effectively convey what you have to offer. It's not about letting your frustrations out about a boss you don't like or people you don't like working with. Any bad-mouthing simply sends a negative message about your character. It'll also make the employer question if you can manage workplace relationships professionally.
Often, bad-mouthing occurs when employers ask questions like, "Why are you leaving your current job?" Stay focused on answering with a positive response that relates back to the goal of improving yourself and utilizing what you're capable of offering.
4. Not Dressing The Part
Yes, it's wrong to judge a book by its cover. But in a job interview, this is what happens. If you're not dressed the part to look like you suit the job, it's going to be hard for the employer to see that, too.
It might also make the employer think that if you can't even manage to present a well-groomed appearance for a job interview that you'll be a slacker when on the job—and that's not going to work, especially if this is a position where you may have interface with customers or business partners that require a professional appearance.
5. It's All About The Money
Salary is a factor in determining whether the job offer is ultimately right for you, but bringing it up too early in the interview process comes off as though you're only in it for the money. And when you're the one to bring it up, it puts you at a disadvantage. You create a situation where you need to reveal your desired salary before the employer offers insight to what they're considering, which may end up being much lower or much higher from what the employer has budgeted.
The point is to first make the most impressive mark you can. If you're the one they want, they'll bring up the topic of salary and you'll have an idea of what they're offering, which you can then further negotiate so it meets your expectations.
Employers take into account many factors during the job interview. It's not just about the experience and skills you put on paper. Now, you can avoid all the typical red flags to keep yourself in the running.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.
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For years now, I have seen hustle-culture being glorified, and it frustrates me. The idea of earning respect by overworking yourself isn't healthy. It just isn't. As a small business owner, I fully understand the word hustle. I grind daily. But as human beings, we have limits, so I suggest that we must be intentional with how we hustle.
I like to think about it in running terms. Hustle culture would have you believe that you can sprint forever. But that isn't possible. At some point, your legs are simply going to give out and hurl you face-first into the ground. Intentional hustle, on the other hand, is like doing a 100-yard dash a few times. You have a goal, you meet it, and then you have a bit of time to rest and reset. The important thing here: it's sustainable.
If you are working too much, not only are you not spending enough time with friends and family, but you are also robbing yourself of opportunities to take on projects that will benefit your career in the long run. Burnout is real and so is your body's need for sleep and self-care.
Sleep is a magical thing. A study done in 2018 by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found those who reported getting 5 to 6 hours experienced 19 percent more productivity loss, and those who got less than 5 hours of sleep experienced 29 percent more productivity loss when compared with those who regularly got 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
To see the full results of the study click here.
Discover Your Flow
You'll notice that there are different levels of stress and flow in your work and life. It's not about finding a perfect balance between the two, but rather finding the sweet spot for you. You need to understand what makes you flourish and what drains you, so you can plan your days and projects and accordingly.
Planning well and taking notice of what you enjoy will allow you to steer your free time and career towards projects and learnings that light you up. Hustle on things that make you happy. It is harder to burn out doing things that you truly enjoy.
When you work too hard, you miss out on the nuances of the world that matter the most to you. You can see a beautiful sunset and not even notice it if you're racing to get done with a project at work. Conversely, when you stop working so hard, you have time to enjoy life's little pleasures, recharge, and be present for the people in your life.
There are so many awe-inspiring things and people out in the world, but you have to look up from your screen to see it all. As a creative, I know without a doubt that my work gets stronger when I take the time to meander and explore the world around me.
Being intentional with how you choose to hustle is the key. A strong work ethic is incredibly valuable, but the idea of ambition as a lifestyle, not so much.
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