I am always shocked a how poor a job law students do interviewing with law firms! Although there is no excuse for attorneys to lack independent thinking, I have a suspicion that law schools are not doing their part in preparing students to set themselves apart from the rest. I'm quite sure that it does not help that law schools and students alike believe that big firms are looking for the same cookie-cutter qualities in each person. In this competitive market, candidates cannot afford to blend into the mix. In this blog I wanted to share some the tips we have for attorneys who are applying to a law firms that they should NEVER forget:
1 - Differentiate Yourself!!
I cannot emphasize this more. If you think you are a commodity, people will treat you like a commodity. Remember, you are not trying to get A job, you are trying to get the RIGHT job. A firm that values the unique qualities of its people will want to know how you are different, not how you are the same as everyone else. For example. . . it means nothing to say you are in the top of your class once you have the interview. That is the tactic that got you the interview, but the same tactic worked for everyone else in the top of the class in every school competing for the same position. Think of your unique value to the organization and make your pitch!
2 - Do your Homework
I simply cannot count how many attorneys are too lazy to write a custom cover letter! Probably almost 75 percent of candidates either cannot be bothered or simply feel entitled to a job for writing a "template" cover letter. This will almost guarantee an immediate trip to the rubbish bin at Exemplar. Candidates who proceed with a quantity over quality approach to interviewing with firms just wreak of desperation and low standards. It tells me that you do not care where you work, you just want to work. Do your homework! Look up the firm on the web, and only apply if you really connect with some aspect of the practice. You will need to do this anyhow to differentiate yourself in the interview.
3 - Get over Yourself
Here is what we see when we read most cover letters: Me me me me me me me me me me!!!! Get over yourself! Have you ever had a conversation with someone who always talked about themselves and never bothered to ask about you? Annoying right? The goal of your cover letter is NOT to get you a job. . . it is to get you a MEETING. The Interview is where you show them what you are made of. If we are reading a cover letter, we want to see that you understand where the heck you are applying and have used your brain to think of why you actually belong here and not at the competition! If you cannot make that clear, you are likely to miss the boat!
4 - Interview THEM!!
There is nothing worse that sitting and asking the same 15 questions to every single person. You want a career, not a job! INTERVIEW the firm!!! Demonstrate knowledge of the firm, interest in what they do, and you will discover all sorts of useful information that will help you to identify how you can contribute that the other candidates will not discover. . . . . simply because they DID NOT ASK!
5 - There is only ONE right answer: Be Yourself
I like to have fun with candidates who are trying to guess the right answer (I have to have some fun, right?}. It is clear as day when someone is trying to "please" you and not being sincere about their answers. It lacks transparency and integrity to be anything other than yourself. Think about it. . . in a dream job you would want to just be you . . . and be valued and cherished just as you are. The best way to identify the "dream" firm is to be yourself and the one who values you will hire you. . . and there you have it! The best way to blow it is to try to guess what the interviewer wants to hear. . . . at best, they'll hire you and then figure out who you really are. . . and I don't know about you, but I know what I do when I don't get what I pay for!
There are so many more important points, but you really need to get the points above to get ahead at a firm that values its people. Try it and you might just get the career you are looking for!