Jobseeking – A Graduates Guide
Law is an intense career, which ever alley you decide to pursue. Especially in the case of becoming an established legal solicitor with the hope to one day open your own practice. The chase to try and get your foot in the door can often seem endless, and more often than not, fresh law graduates begin to question whether they have pursued the right career.
Well, not all is lost. Here are two important tips that are sure to improve your chances of landing that dream job and getting the ball rolling firmly on your legal career.
These days, internships are flourishing. It is possible to secure an internship in almost any field and in any country, and you would be very foolish to not jump on the bandwagon now it’s moving! Now, the real benefit of the internship is fundamentally not what you may learn, but how it will look on your CV. This has been debated over the years by many and the conclusion was drawn that 3 – 6 months of work experience in which-ever field is not the be all and end all of the application. It was even stated by many employers that to be considered ‘experienced’ you had to have worked in that position for more than a year. Therefore, while you may think these rules out the necessity to undertake such work, it actually does the opposite. What this means is now you don’t need to worry too much about what exact position you intern in. It means you can be a little more creative; try out different fields; different industries perhaps. The result will be a dynamic on your CV that is not so cut and dry. To be a successful lawyer you need to make your passion clear; you need to show your clients that you care and that you will do your utmost to ensure their best interests are maintained. This is what employers will look for in a candidate, and a period of time spent interning in a different country, will prove that you possess this quality. For example, Coles-law solicitors in York, UK are always looking for young, creative and fresh law grads to join their team, as is The Hague in the Netherlands and numerous NGO’s throughout the developing world.
This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do to secure that illusive job – especially in the legal fields. Unfortunately, it would seem that getting a high-profile position these days is as down to what you know, as it is down to who you know, and getting your foot in the door and meeting the right people can be relatively easy.
Networking events are one of the premier ways to do this. Organised solely to connect people, in attendance you will find people who are there to be talked to – so don’t feel shy about sparking up conversations. Shake hands, bear the small talk, and make sure your name is remembered. Printing out some business cards and handing them out is also a good idea, and a sure fire way to ensure your contact details are to hand should that person forget your name. This can be a little difficult at first, though, and the awkwardness certainly used to get the better of me on occasion. Remember: the more you do it the better you will get at it, and fundamentally, what do you have to lose?
Another good way to network – often overlooked by conventional definitions – is to take any old job, as long as it is in some way connected to what you want to do – no matter how vaguely. Working at a law firm as a receptionist, janitor or file clerk may not be your dream job, but it will put you in contact with the right people. Through part-time work or through temping agencies you can meet those who are in charge of the hiring and firing, and be exposed to those all important job vacancies before they are advertised elsewhere. This may seem a little trivial but as with all other suggestions: never turn your nose up at something which will point you in the right direction.
Finally, a phenomenon that is specific to this generation is that of blogging. If you haven’t already got one, set up a blog and fill it with relevant content concerning the topic that interests you most. This way you have a constant, easy to display and serious online covering letter that you can attach as a sign off to any email correspondence you send to would-be employers. The chances are in your favour that the link will be followed, thereby not only attaching a face to the email, but a sense of personality, too.
Alongside these benefits, blogging also offers some wonderful network opportunities. It is common for people in all industries and in all positions to open and run a blog, and if you were to connect with this community through the publication of your own blog, coupled with the use of social media as a marketing tool you will be surprised as to the results. In a world where Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are as integral to people professionally as they are socially, don’t ignore this tool.
Fundamentally, working hard is not the whole picture. While this is perhaps the most important component of any successful job search, meeting the right people and separating yourself from the competition will help a great deal in securing that position you so want to secure.
Overall, don’t give up, keep looking and keep applying – just be creative.
David Williamson works for Coles Solicitors. He is an experienced writer and mostly writes on legal career topics to help fresh law graduates in getting internships and job opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter.