Think twice before firing off your resume

Wow – that looks like a good opportunity….I’ll send my resume there.  And there.  And there.  Oooh, and there, too.

What is happening above is potentially a bad strategy.  Sending resumes out without giving thought about the opportunity can be a roadmap for failure.  Too often we hear of attorneys who will blindly send their resume out to a list of firms without think about the potential fit and the possible consequences.  It’s best to not only be aware of WHERE you send your resume, but WHY you are sending it.

What that means is that before you send out a resume – and I mean each and every time – take some time to think about the firm you are contacting.  What are their strengths and weaknesses?  Who are their clients?  What is their reputation?  How would you fit in?  What can I contribute to their firm that they couldn’t get from another candidate?  Now take this information and make the case as to why you are a good fit for the firm.  If you can’t convince yourself (or your spouse…or your mom) then you aren’t going to convince the firm.  And let’s face it – not everyone is right for every job.

How can you tell if you might fit in with a firm? Do your homework.  Read the local legal blogs and trade publications, work with a legal recruiter, talk to your friends, read the firm’s NALP form, look at the firm’s website or see how they present themselves on social media.  These are great resources that can help you decide whether you would be a fit.

If you graduated at the bottom of your class and your experience isn’t on point, don’t waste your time sending in a resume to an AmLaw 100 firm that requires a top-of-the-class academic pedigree and spot-on experience.  They aren’t going to change their standards just for you.  On the other hand, if you are on the cusp with your experience and you can make a strong case about how you would slot into their firm culture/clients/etc. and that your experience or contacts would add to their practice then you should pursue that opportunity.

Choose your battles wisely, though.  Another reason that blanketing a market with your resume could be a bad strategy is that you might be shooting yourself in the foot for future positions.  Every rejection letter ever written by a law firm has the obligatory phrase “we will keep your resume on file for future opportunities….”  While I think that might be true at some firms, it’s baloney at a great majority of the firms.  If you are rejected for a position that you weren’t qualified for, you are now in their system as a candidate who was reviewed and rejected.  You just made it very easy to overlook your resume if you send in your resume again in 6 months for a position that you are PREFECT for.

So remember to aim before you shoot.  I’m sure you will hit your target with greater frequency.

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