Is the job hunt getting you down? In a market that is flooded with students and graduates, you really do need to find a way to stand out from the pack. Here are some application tips that may help you land that job!
If you are applying to an advertised position, the employer usually requires at a minimum your current CV and a current academic transcript. Make sure the academic transcript is an official copy from your university, as a firm will not usually accept your own typed out version.
Always do a cover letter, unless you have been specifically told not to. The cover letter does not have to be long, but it does need to signpost your most relevant experience and attributes, and most importantly, why you want to work at that particular law firm.
Two of the biggest mistakes people make is to either not provide a cover letter, or if they do, send an obviously generic one. If your application is to a specialist boutique law firm, do your research. Think about why you want to work in that practice area and what you have done that is relevant to that role.
Proofread, Proofread and Proofread
I cannot stress enough how important it is to check and edit your application. There have been occasions where I have reviewed applications filled with spelling and grammatical errors and had to discard them, even though the person otherwise appeared to have the right stuff for the job. Attention to detail is crucial in law firms and the person reviewing your application will be looking out for basic spelling and grammar mistakes.
The Interview: Be Prepared and Professional
If you get invited to an interview at the law firm, try to stay calm! The fact that you have made it to this part is a really good sign. If you've done your preparation right you will already know what the firm does and what work you would like to do there. Look at what you said in your cover letter and think about how you might be able to expand on those points in the interview.
Common interview questions that you should expect and prepare for include, “What do you know about our firm?” and “Why do you want to work for us?” You should also be ready to talk about your personal interests and career goals. Heads up, if it’s a boutique you may also be quizzed a bit about your knowledge in their specialist areas.
Interviews tend to take different forms depending on the firm people involved. Where I work we like to meet for a more formal interview and maybe one or two chats over coffee before making a decision about hiring someone. It really depends on how many applicants we have who have made it to that stage, and which senior lawyers are involved in the recruitment.
Dress well, be early, be polite, and listen carefully to what they're asking you.
If you don't hear anything back after any stage of the application process, don't be afraid to call and follow up. It's another way of showing that you're keen and may help your application through if it was borderline.
Each law firm will be looking for different kinds of law students or graduates, but you can't go wrong with demonstrating a polite and interested attitude. Show that you're keen and want to contribute to the firm in any way you can. Feel free to ask for feedback if you're unsuccessful as it may shed some light on where your application or interview technique could be improved.
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