Are you really interested?
You’re in the throes of applying for law jobs. These are the hallowed days of words majestically blurring into each other in the search for typos and of the eternal battle to ensure that you actually send the right covering letter to the right firm. And when it’s all over, how’s the serenity? Even when the applications are finally all submitted though, one thing above all haunts me: my interests.
There’s nothing quite like trying to put together a CV that stands out from the crowd to make you feel like you’re as boring as a 128 page extract of a case that discusses what a ‘document’ is for the purposes of the Evidence Act. I recently put together an application for a volunteering position. Everything was going fine, I powered through employment history section, listed some slightly embellished achievements, and took pride in typing in my education. But then along came the interests section and ten minutes later I could be found under a table in the uni bar, curled up in the foetal position, babbling about why anyone would ever date, let alone hire, this boring law student. And therein lies the problem.
It’s easy to get caught up in the artificially fast pace of law school. You become acutely aware of the competition for great graduate jobs very early. Sure, you generally don’t act on it straight away but then the law society advertises a junior mooting competition. It seems great and it’s a safe environment to get a bit of a head start, nothing too serious. Fast-forward three years and those whispers of competitive recruitment processes have lead you to be a mooting, volunteering, team sport playing, law ball organising, parliamentary submission writing expert. You’re spread very thin.
There are a lot of articles and blogs out there that encourage us to have interests outside of the law. They largely focus on our wellbeing but never seem to mention the employability of people with diverse interests. It’s always fantastic to be able to talk about our interests in an interview, and having law-related interests obviously helps here too.
But writing the interests section on a resume reminds many of us that for all of the ‘interests’ we’ve picked up to enhance our chances of getting a job, we’ve got such a shallow understanding of or limited participation in them that they not only become hard to justify, but you also realise that everyone is probably listing the same legal interests as well. Those plans we made to stand out from the crowd have now landed us right in the same position as that crowd; overcommitted, over worked, and without the time to pursue in depth any genuine interest we have.
And that’s the existential crisis that led me to pursue my real interests, the ones that actually fulfil me and genuinely keep my well being in check. Sure, a few employers have raised their eyebrows reading that I enjoy updating my blog on raw cooking and the gay rights movement or that I like to compete in mud-based obstacle courses, but hey, at least we’re now on a subject that I legitimately know about, and they never seem to forget who I am.
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