Shouldn’t You Have a Job by Now?
Happy May! The month of exam seasons and last hurdle before we enjoy our summers…if everything has gone according to plan, that is. For law students who have yet to have a summer job and for attorneys who trying to restart their legal careers, the summer can be a stressful season.
If you are still searching for a job, here are a few things you can do to step up your search game:
Create or update your LinkedIn profile!
This is your personal, professional page that can probably use a facelift. An updated profile can help you land networking opportunities and interviews. LinkedIn also has some great functions such as alumni search, and features where you can see mutual contacts. This is a great way for you to do some research on potential employers and interviewers and to keep everyone updated! As a bonus, it acts as your personal website and can help you improve your brand.
Get your resume and cover letter critiqued!
There is always room for improvement—and once you have done all that you can, get some feedback from a reader! Ask for examples from successful colleagues or past copies and see what you can learn from them. Consider reaching out to mentors to also solicit their feedback.
Remember that your these tips regarding your resume and cover letter.
Add something new!
Update your LinkedIn, resume, and cover letter with any updates that make you a better candidate. Think about leadership roles, memberships, achievements, courses, or milestones.
Meet with alumni or follow up with contacts! This is a great way to personally assess where you are in the search process, and also might open the door to recommends and insights to steer yo in the right direction. When you get in touch with them, update them on your career goals. Let them know if you are about to get a call or if you are being considered by a position. If, on the other hand, you are not quite searching for a job but are in the process of a reinvention (or you are simply recovering from a career mistake), use the summer to recharge by:
Your classmates are not only a valuable resource while you were in school, but also while you are figuring out what you are doing once you graduate. Use LinkedIn to find classmates that may be practicing in locations or practice areas of your interest. Take some time to cultivate and grow your networks within the legal community. If you haven’t joined a bar association or haven't attended an event, this may be a good time to make an appearance.
Plan to attend a few networking events.
I am sure you are tired of hearing about “networking” BUT the truth is that the legal profession is built on networking—whether you are employed and want to stay employed, or whether you are trying to find employment. Other than your law school, look to your other schools (yes, including your undergraduate) to see if there are any gatherings or events. Find opportunities to get to know the local legal community, particularly if there is a way you can get your name out there as a speaker or writer.
Finally, think of a thoughtful way to get your name out there online—engage with your LinkedIn
contacts, for example. Prepare to answer tough questions. If your resume reflects a lot of moves or has a big gap in employment, you should not be caught off guard when you are asked about it. Perhaps you have changed practice areas or moved from one size of practice to another—again, be prepared to talk about it. You want to strike a balance where you are being honest, but also strategic. The summer is a great time to talk to friends, recruiters, mentors, and advisers about how to reframe this narrative. If you are currently experiencing a “gap,” do what you can to make sure it isn’t a “blank gap.” This might mean doing some contract work for a previous employer, teaching (consider serving as an adjunct at a law school), or publishing.
Above all else: stay positive-especially when the setbacks come.