The job search isn’t working. Could you have made one of these mistakes?

You’ve been at the job search for a while and it doesn’t seem to be going as well as you’d hoped.  Certainly a soft market can be a partial explanation, but is it possible that you are contributing to your own failure?  Here are some common blunders that many attorneys make during their job search.

I want to be a litigator….or a corporate attorney.  Not knowing what you want to be when you grow up is okay in college, but now that you’re practicing, not having a laser-like focus on what you are looking for in your next job makes it hard to hire you.  The problem is that a law degree allows you to do a lot of different things, but you need to focus on one to find a job.  Telling a potential employer that you have great experience in securities compliance, but now want to practice family law is confusing for an employer.  It makes it easier for them to pass on you and toss your resume.  If you truly want to change practice areas, you need to find a way to demonstrate that you are serious about the career change and not indecisive.

Big firm by day, barfly at night.   Chances are good that you or your friend have a Facebook account.  I’m also betting that your phone has a camera in it.  If these things are true, then your barfly antics are probably floating around on the internet somewhere.  Know what’s online and do your best to keep damaging photos (or anything unprofessional) off the internet.  At the very least, assume that whatever you put on social media during your job search will be read by the hiring manager of every firm where you are sending a resume.

I’ve got a great ‘rezume’.  You can be the best candidate in the world, but a spelling or grammar error can torpedo your candidacy before you ever get to an interview.  Proofread.  Hire someone to proofread.  Then proofread again.

You’re too negative.  Nobody likes that guy who is constantly trashing his old employer (or the one who is looking for pity talking about how awful the job/employer/boss was).  It stands to reason that they don’t want to hire that guy, either.

Crickets.  Congrats!  You got the interview and it went well.  At the end of the interview the firm asks if you have any questions for them and you say…nothing.  You have to have something to ask.  No questions = no job.  Ask about the culture.  Ask about the firm financials (if appropriate).  Ask about their growth plans.  You can’t be silent.

Ask Emily Post (or my Mom).  When I was a child, my mother had a rule: I couldn’t play with a gift until I wrote a thank you note.  No exceptions.    The same rule should go for interviews and sending a thank you note.  Once you are done with the interview, write the thank you note.  Putting it off for a week because you are ‘sure it won’t be noticed’ is a miscalculation that you can’t afford.


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