3 unconventional job tips for lawyers

By Alexandra Sumner

Job hunting as a lawyer can be a draining process; between the constant crawling through job boards, drafting cover letter after cover letter and retyping your work experience even after uploading your resume, sometimes it just feels easier to work in retail forever.

If you’re struggle-bussing your way toward finding a new summer (or post-graduate) job, use the tips below to make the bumpy road ahead as smooth as possible.

1. Get LinkedIn Premium. This article is not sponsored—I swear, I just think LinkedIn Premium is a helpful tool. For one thing, it’s pretty affordable; for another, it allows you to see where you stand in comparison to other applicants and can give you great insights for improving your resume and profile.

Don’t get me wrong, signing up for Premium won’t guarantee you a job—but it can give you the tools to market yourself effectively, ask for the salary you deserve, and connect you with some critical decision-makers.

2. Send the Uncomfortable Emails. Like many people, I struggle with the concept of self-promotion and networking — it can seem so disingenuous — but in the job search world, there is no time for modesty. It’s imperative that you promote yourself and reach out to any and everyone who may be able to give you a leg up.

Part of this process means sending uncomfortable emails and making awkward phone calls. On LinkedIn, this can mean using the “Message the Job Poster” feature to reach out directly to the recruiter to express your interest, on other job boards this may mean doing a little research and finding the company’s HR contact to let them know personally that you are interested in a position.

While the thought of this sort of “cold calling” may give you the shivers, it’s a necessary step on the path to employment. (Think of it this way, if you aren’t doing it, you are falling behind everyone else who is.)

3. Use the 60% rule. You may have heard the following statistic: Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women will only apply if they meet 100% of them. That needs to change.

It’s important to realize that part of applying for jobs as lawyers is a tacit agreement between you and your new employer that you will need time and training to be able to perform all the responsibilities of your position. And there is no shame in that.

Thankfully a lot of companies have taken steps to combat this often gender-based assumption. Many even feature a disclaimer along the lines of “even if you don’t meet 100% of the qualifications listed below, you are encouraged to apply.” Although it may seem unnatural or uncomfortable to stretch your job application categories, remember that it’s not your place to ultimately judge whether you’d be a good fit for the position. That’s up to the companies. All you can do is put your name in as a contender.

There are no magic solutions to navigating the job market, no simple formula that results in your dream job, in your dream city, with your dream salary. All that you (or anyone, really) can do is wake up and keep trying, searching, and applying.  

Remember: All you need is one yes.

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