University of Pittsburgh

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.    


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