Nailing an interview is hard, but getting an interview in the first place is where it all starts. Shari F. Lesnick, is a Career and Professional Development Coordinator at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School where she focuses on career coaching and employer outreach. Here Shari talks to lawyer Monthly about the key stage of job hunting in the legal sphere, resume building and securing an interview.
In today’s hiring market there are multiple online websites where you can blast out your resume in the hope that somewhere someone happens to look and selects you for that coveted interview. While the “send and wait” approach might work for other professions, law students and newly admitted attorneys should follow a tailored approach. Below are four tips to get your resume out of an inbox and position you to secure an interview.
Be Selective. A few years ago a luxury men and women’s handbag company expanded their market and placed product not only in their stores but in department stores and outlet malls. Instead of seeing an increase of sales, the brand became diluted and sales dropped. So too will the value of your resume plummet if you embark on the “mass mailing” approach. The legal community is close knit; hiring partners talk to each other. You don’t want to be known in your community as the person who sent his/her resume to every firm in your county. Be selective and have focus. If you choose to cold call law firms, make sure your resume reflects that you are a good match for the firm. Narrow your first round of cold call submissions to 5-7 places.
Be Mindful of What the Employer Seeks. The luxury handbag manufacturer ultimately switched focus back to their original customers. They were mindful of what their core customers wanted. They closed many of their outlet mall stores and department store mini-shops. Every job seeker must read the job posting carefully and be mindful of the employer’s requirements. Do not apply to positions where you do not meet the employer’s basic qualification – your current status. A law school graduate in most cases should not apply to a position that seeks a first or second year law student. A law student should not apply to a position that seeks a newly admitted attorney. If you have been practicing for one year it would be a waste of your time and the employer’s time to apply to a position that requests 3-5 years of experience. Be mindful and pay attention to what the employer seeks in their job posting. The specific requirements indicate what the firm needs right now. Focus your time and energies on positions where you meet the basic requirements and submit a resume that is tailored for those employers.
Tailor Every Resume Submission. When the luxury handbag company mass manufactured their product people lost interest because what was being offered wasn’t unique any more. Everything was the same and nothing stood out. It is not advisable to submit a one size fits all resume. Take the time to study each prospective employer. Review the attorney biography section of the website. Analyze what types of people the firm hires. What do you have in common with the other attorneys? What similar law school experiences do you have with them? What prior work experience do you have that the firm could use? After you have carefully studied the prospective employer, first revise your resume to reflect all the similarities you have in common. Next, reflect on what unique specific skills you have that the prospective employer would value. Ask your friends, other attorneys, professors and career services advisors what they know about the firm. Seek their input on your final resume draft.
Be Patient. The luxury handbag company didn’t have an overnight turn around. While the new point of sale strategies were being launched, the company embarked upon multiple customer engagement efforts. They reached out to a redefined market base and networked on social media, print advertising, industry events, and through partnerships with “tastemakers”. While you are selectively submitting your tailored resumes don’t be passive. Attend networking events that are compatible to your strategic resume submissions. If you seek a career in family law it wouldn’t make sense to focus your networking efforts with the insurance defense bar section. While you are proceeding with your resume submission efforts, continue self-marketing and personally engage with individuals and organizations that are compatible with your job search focus. Be patient, your selective self-marketing could ultimately lead to a personal introduction to an employer to which you previously submitted your resume. Stay connected to the people who are connected to the firms with whom you want to interview.
By following these tips coupled with strategic networking, your resume will resonate with employers and position you to secure the interviews you seek.