Secrets to successful resumes, cover letter and networking

By Hillary Mantis

I recently heard a panel of legal career experts speak at a New York State Bar Association panel, “Jumpstart Your Job Search,” at their 2012 Career Development Conference in New York City.

Here are their tips that I thought would be helpful to anyone searching for a job:

• Cover Letters: You should always include a cover letter, “even if not requested,” according to career expert and Director of Pace Law School’s New Directions program, Amy Gewirtz. “Employers can tell if you have taken to time to research their organization,” she added. You should always stress how what you’ve done, and what skills you have already developed, can help the person who’s going to hire you. A cover letter for a networking/informational interview differs in that it should be “short and sweet.” You can ask for “just twenty minutes of their time for guidance and suggestions,” Gewirtz suggested.

• Resumes: Resumes need to be tailored to each job-not generic, resume expert Jessica Silverstein, Principal of Attorney’s Counsel, stressed. “You need to use the language that’s in the job description…your resume needs to match exactly what they are looking for,” she emphasized. “Always include target industry language.” She also strongly recommends you show quantifiable results on your resume whenever possible, and show how you can solve a potential future employer’s problems.

• Networking: Career expert Carol Kanarek, career coach and Partner at Kanarek & Brady, emphasized that networking is the means by which probably up to 90% of lawyers are finding jobs. For those who are stuck as to what to ask during a networking meeting, she suggests you ask them about their education, training, their career path, what they like and don’t like about their work, as well as what skills are now in demand in their practice area. “You can’t start early enough to make these contacts,” even if you are still a student, she emphasized. All of the speakers recommended using Linked In as a great way to start to network.

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