Many people wait until they need a job (or a job opportunity is brought to their attention) before they get their resumes in order. But if you wait until you absolutely need your resume, then you may already be too late. Related: 5 Things To Fix Before Your Resume Leaves Your Desk In reality, you never know when you’ll need a job, or when a job opportunity will present itself. If you’re given notice today, will you be ready to start your job search immediately? If a friend mentions an opening at your dream employer, will you be ready to submit your resume? If a legal recruiter calls, could you e-mail her your resume today? If you’re not ready to move, rest assured your competition for these opportunities is ready, willing, and able. While you spend the next week or two getting your resume together, someone else is submitting hers. One of the most simplest and most important tactics you can implement in your job search and career development is to be ready. Invest the time to create a thorough long-form resume, as well as a short-form version. In the long-form resume, you’ll have every bit of information; it’s more like a CV. The point of the long-form resume is to gather all information you might need in one place, so that you can use it as a basis for creating shorter, targeted resumes aimed at particular opportunities. You can also use the long-form resume to help refresh your memory before job interviews. After you’ve created the long-form resume, edit it down and revise it to create a targeted short form resume. Keep that general short form resume handy. Keep your long-form and short-form resumes updated—calendar a tickler to check your resumes every quarter and to update them as necessary. While you’re at it, update your writing sample selection (without violating attorney-client privilege or other confidentiality concerns, of course) and double-check you’re on-target with your long-term career goals. As you review your materials, consider your overall career development. Are there technical skills you need to improve on, experiences to gain that would increase employer interest, or other ways to advance your career? Is it time to finally write that article you’ve been putting off? Time to defend a deposition on your own? Having your resume ready before you need a job means you’ll be able to act quickly when opportunities come your way.
As a resume writer and career adviser, I counsel my clients to relax when they go into a job interview. Being relaxed and comfortable will certainly make a job interview go more smoothly—for both the job candidate and the interviewer. But there’s a difference between being relaxed and “letting it all hang out.” To do that, there are a few personal belongings you might be better off not letting your interviewer see. Your beach book. For those of you who use e-readers, this may not be an issue. But for job candidates bringing personal magazines or the latest bestseller to read on the way to the interview, this can be important. You might think reading “bodice-rippers” is fun, but it’s not a hobby to share with your interviewer. Keep your hobbies and personal life to yourself. If the interviewer is going to see you reading anything in the office waiting room, why not make it the latest industry magazines? Your phone, tablet, and other electronics. Be respectful of your interviewers’ time. Sure, you might need your smart phone to help you navigate your way to the employer’s office. But before you cross the threshold into their building, turn it off and put it away. Interviewers do not want to be interrupted by your friends calling and texting, and they have no forgiveness for job candidates who are rude enough answer their phones or text during the interview. Keep to the same rule airlines have: all electronics need to be off and stowed. Your wristwatch, jewelry, and other accessories. Be cognizant of the employer’s culture and mission. If you’re lucky enough to possess a Rolex watch, large engagement ring, or $2,000 briefcase, then think before you take them with on an interview. They might work well for your professional image if you’re interviewing at an investment bank, but they will likely backfire if you’re interviewing at a local non-profit serving impoverished families facing eviction. In the first instance, those high-end accessories scream, “I can mingle with your high net worth clients!” In the second instance, those high-end accessories scream, “I’m an insensitive clod who doesn’t understand or respect what you’re all about!” Just like your collectible Swatch watch might be a great fit for some employers, but a no-no for others. Make sure your accessories help demonstrate how you fit in, not stand out. Those who’ve read my other blogs and How to Get a Legal Job: A Guide for New Attorneys and Law School Students know I don’t just rely on my own opinions for these tips. I spend a great deal of time talking to hiring decision-markers, including hiring directors, interviewers, personnel managers, and recruiters—in other words, the people who will be interviewing you. So don’t just take my advice, take theirs!
You may be asked salary information on an application form—or be faced with a “current salary” or “desired salary” field on an online application. Or you may be asked the same question by a legal recruiter. The answer you provide may be used in the screening process—answer too high and you may not be considered for the position at all. (Psst! Can’t get hired? Watch this free tutorial.) This number will also likely come into play at the interview/offer stage—it can establish the range for the offer the employer makes. And if you’re underpaid and undervalued at your current employer, then there’s the risk that your low level of pay will follow you when you move on. On a paper application form—or if the online form allows you to type in whatever you want—you can write “Negotiable.” This gives you the opportunity to discuss your salary history and expectations later.
Men and women have different faux pas when it comes to wardrobe. However, they make a lot of the same mistakes when it comes to personal hygiene and grooming - and an interviewer will definitely take notice. While most of my clients apply to work in conservative environments like law firms, investment banks, and corporations, the hygiene and grooming faux pas discussed here are important to avoid in any work environment. They are the distracting and annoying mistakes that could put an end to all the hard work you’ve done in writing your resume, targeting employers, and scheduling and preparing for interviews. That’s pretty bad. But the good news these mistakes are all avoidable. Those who’ve read my other blogs and How to Get a Legal Job: A Guide for New Attorneys and Law School Students know I don’t just rely on my own opinions for these tips. I spend a great deal of time talking to hiring decision-markers, including hiring directors, interviewers, personnel managers, and recruiters—in other words, the people who will be interviewing you.
So, you signed up for your free profile on LinkedIn. You've even invested time optimizing your profile. Congratulations! Now you’re wondering if your LinkedIn profile and strategy are actually working. Here are five key signs that you need to re-think or re-energize your LinkedIn strategy.
So many law students and new attorneys think “networking” is a dirty word. It’s selfish, disingenuous, and awkward. It’s dreaded and hated. But the truth is networking is the number one way to get a job and build your career. Over time, networking is increasingly important. Many of the lawyers I’ve interviewed have never looked for a job after their first few years of practice. Every single opportunity came to them through their network. They were alerted to job openings before jobs were posted—and in some cases were the only candidates considered for the positions, offered jobs that ended up never being posted. Their networks handed their resumes to decision-makers and put in a good word for them. Their networks pushed their candidacies forward when necessary, calling decision-makers and influencers to vouch for them and proactively address any concerns. Their networks didn’t just help them get jobs. Networks also helped with securing speaking, publishing, and leadership opportunities within bar and other professional associations, alumni associations, and nonprofit boards. These are important technical skill-building and interpersonal skill-building opportunities that have the additional benefit of making networkers’ networks even larger. Every time a person in these networks was successful, they paid it back—helping others within the network. And so the entire group moved forward together. Those few lawyers who weren’t growing, nurturing, and using their networks were cut out of these opportunities. Worse, they didn’t even know it. Because so many of the advances the networking group made happened “behind the scenes” or “off the record.” Bob Non-Networker might know Craig Networker got a new job in the legal department of X Company, but Bob never knew Craig got the job by calling his former girlfriend, Susan Networker, who happened to be a sorority sister of the General Counsel of the company. The GC was so impressed that she never even got around to posting the job. Variations of this scenario happen every day. It’s easy to write off networking as something only the privileged do. Easy to claim that only the rich or Ivy Leaguers or whomever has access to the benefits of networking. But while its true that quantity and quality of networks can vary widely, everyone has access to the benefits of networking. So get out there and start building yours now! Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Looking to shorten your job search? As a career coach and resume writer, many of my clients come to me when they need a job. Perhaps they have been laid off, or their firm closed, or they were unable to land a summer internship. At that point, they’re already playing catch-up. A great resume is important, but it’s not a silver bullet. It can’t single-handedly land you the position of a lifetime. There’s still a lot of work that you need to do. And, unfortunately for those playing catch-up, a lot of that work is investment in time and energy that are best done before you need a resume.