Pitt Law Works: Volume 1 Issue 15 - January 30, 2009
11 TIPS FOR THE 11TH HOUR: How to Conduct an All-Out Marketing Blitz When You Need a Job Right Now
1. Swallow your pride: You may have come to law school with visions of working at a large law firm and pulling in a six-figure salary. Now would be a good time to be practical. While you should not take a job in which you have no interest, when you are just starting out GETTING EXPERIENCE is tremendously helpful. Think of every job as a stepping stone. Will the position you are considering get you one step closer to your dream job. Will it provide you with skills that you can leverage in the future? If so, go for it.
2. Sharpen your most important tool: If you have been postponing updating your resume, delay no longer. You need to update your resume if you haven't done so in a while or if the one you have been using is not getting results. Step back and critically assess your resume: is it really a marketing piece that sells your skills? (Or is it a laundry list of your experience dating back to high school?) If you need someone else to assess your resume or even just to proofread it (typos will hurt your chances with employers) email it to the CSO. One of our counselors would be happy to help you develop fresh perspective.
3. Sharpen your other tools: Dissect every step of your job search process and figure out where it is breaking down. If, for example, you are getting interviews but no offers, schedule a mock interview and determine if there are ways to improve your interviewing approach.
4. Get out there: Most people cringe at the word "networking" and claim not to know anyone or not to know how to network. You know lots of people: you know former employers, a host of professors, undergraduate advisors, members of alumni associations, members of honors societies/social fraternities/undergraduate sports teams, members of houses of worship, fellow students, people with whom you volunteer, etc. Don't discount someone's ability to help you just because that person is not a lawyer or obviously connected to the legal community. You would be surprised by the number of people your contacts and acquaintances know. If you claim not to know how to network, it is as easy as sending an email or making a phone call. When you are communicating with your contacts, let them know that you are looking for a job, and tell them, more specifically, what interests you, so they can be in the best position to refer you to leads.
5. Re-book your Spring Break trip: Yes, Pittsburgh is the third cloudiest city in the nation and we know you are craving sunshine. As much as you deserve to lie out on a sunlit beach, your Spring Break should be spent in the city where you hope to work, going to informational interviews. Firms are more receptive to students who say "I'm going to be in your city the week of [insert dates] and was hoping to set up an informational interview while I'm there to learn more about your firm." Once they have had the chance to meet you, it could open the door to a future relationship. And while you are in that city, visit the career services office of the local law school for access to local resources and tips on breaking into that market. (Danielle Schoch can usually arrange reciprocity with another law school if you give her advanced notice.)
6. Get Internet-savvy: You are a regular on e-Bay and can download i-tunes in a heartbeat. But how familiar are you at using the internet as a job-hunting tool? This does not mean that you should post your resume on a couple of sites and call it a day. You should, however, check Symplicity, which is updated daily. You should also check out the websites featured in this newsletter as they might lead you to resources you would not have considered or positions you might not have learned about from other sources. And, of course, when you are researching employers to which you should apply, the internet is invaluable.
7. Know what you are looking for: You're perusing the jobs posted at your favorite web-sites but you see nothing that says "entry level associate wanted." That is because larger law firms completed their hiring in the Fall and smaller firms don't hire that far in advance. Your best bet is still probably a "law clerk" job. Especially at smaller firms, many clerking jobs turn into associate positions once the employer gets to know you and your work. If you get a law clerk job now, you've got time before the bar exam to prove yourself and to, perhaps, work with the employer to stay on as an associate.
8. Don't forget state court judges and common pleas courts: While federal judges have finished hiring, many state and county courts don't think about hiring judicial law clerks until Spring, or even the summer after graduation. Clerking is an excellent stepping stone into most areas of the law. The CSO can help you research trial judges in/around cities that interest you.
9. Pick a few, likely targets: It is not a good idea to paper the town with your resume and apply to every firm listed in the small/mid-sized firm directory. But the fact remains that many jobs are never posted. It is also true that many employers do not realize that they have a need until the right person comes along. Do your research and create a list of people you would love to work for, based on specific parameters that are unique to you. For example, let's say you have experience clerking for a firm that does family law. That's unique. You want to work in Buffalo, NY. That's specific. Run a search on LexisNexis, Westlaw, or the on-line Yellow Pages for firms doing family law in that city and the surrounding county. Check out the web sites of the firms you find, and narrow the list down to a few you are considering strongly. Ask everyone you know what they know about these firms. Send the firms a carefully crafted cover letter with your resume and follow up with a phone call (to the person to whom you addressed your materials) to see if they have a need that you could fill.
10. Consider temping: The use of contract attorneys is on the rise, and temping is a great way to get experience and face time. Several temping agencies come to campus in the Spring to provide more information. However, you may want to set aside sometime to talk to a career counselor about the specific steps and qualifications.
11. Come on in: Contrary to what you might think, the CSO does not serve only the top 10% of the class. Really. Most of our time is spent helping students in just your position. It is our job to know people with whom you could conduct informational interviews. It is also our job to help you weigh your options and to help you take action. But we can't help you if you don't ask for help. Even if you have not used our services much in the past, you can rest assured that we won't scold. We honestly want to help you take charge of your job search.