By Hillary Mantis
Summer may have just begun, but fall on-campus interviews are right around the corner. You will probably start hearing about summer resume deadlines from your career center, if you haven’t already. If you are trying for a Big Law position, how can you present yourself in the best light?
I recently heard an excellent panel of top law firm recruiting professionals speak to a standing room only crowd at a program at The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Inside the Hiring Committee: Inside Tips from Recruiters on How to get Hired.
Here are some of their tips:
• Research each firm carefully. Let the employer know why you are specifically interested in their firm, and why you would be a good fit for them. Know each firm, their specialties, and their individual offices well. They can tell if you’re prepared.
• Be enthusiastic. Firms often keep candidates on “hold” for a little while if they are not sure whether to make an offer. If you would definitely accept an offer from them, let them know they are your first choice, and keep in touch with them to reiterate your interest.
• Make sure your resume, cover letter and thank you notes are absolutely perfect — it’s their first representation of you. If you make any typos, you will lose credibility, and possibly the opportunity to interview.
• Any time you can get make additional connections through networking, to find someone to forward your resume to a law firm, such as an alumni of your law school, do so. It may help your resume get noticed.
• Be ready during the interview to give specific examples of how you have solved problems, showed initiative, and acted as a “team player.” Behavioral interview questions are sometimes used during interviews to elicit these types of examples.
• Cast a wide net. In this economy, don’t just rely on who is coming to interview your campus. Apply on your own firms in other cities, and apply to smaller firms and government agencies.
• Know the different times of the year when large firms, small firms, and government agencies hire, and in general, stick to those times. Larger firms tend to hire much more in advance than smaller firms, who may not be able to predict their needs as far ahead of time.
• Become a student member of your local bar association, and volunteer for committees, where you may meet practicing lawyers. If possible, volunteer to write an article with them.
• Network with other lawyers throughout your years in law school, not just when you are going through on-campus interviews. Make contacts to leverage for the long haul, not just for the immediate future. Keep in touch with your connections throughout law school — they will be more likely to remember you when they do hear of a job.
• Emphasize leadership roles you have held on campus, or even as an undergrad — firms are looking for people who can one day be an “ambassador” for the firm.
Hillary Mantis advises law students, lawyers, and pre-law students. She is the Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University, and author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. You can write to Hillary at firstname.lastname@example.org