Law Students

Job Hunting 101

Our driving goal at JD Match is to help students find firms they like that are also interested in them, resulting in longer-lasting, mutually beneficial matches. That said, getting a good job in this economy is, as you well know, far from a sure thing. To that end, we have developed a series of suggestions for you to maximize your chances. Not all will apply to you, but we bet lots will and may give you an edge on your competition; your fellow students and the thousands at other law schools.

Increasingly, we’re hearing that firms and corporations are interviewing year-round, not just during fall and spring OCI, so honing your skills and getting smarter about opportunities you want to pursue should be year-round for students, too. Also, most people seriously underestimate how long it takes to gather and assess the information you’ll need to make one of the most important decisions in your life. The bottom line? Job hunt prep needs to be a regular part of your already-crowded schedule.

Take Advantage of Your School’s Career Services Group

  • Engage with your law school’s career services group. This is the group whose sole responsibility it is to help launch the legal careers of as many of their students as possible. There seem to be varying opinions among students about the effectiveness of career services from school to school. That said, don’t take other students’ opinions at face value.
  • Get the inside scoop on law firms from career services. They’re fonts of information and very up-to-date on what’s really happening at various firms that may likely not be on firms’ website or referenced in available sources, such as the NALP directory.
  • Take advantage of all the services they offer. Career services people are pros; they know what works and, as important, what doesn’t. They’ve been doing this for a long time so seek their advice on the appropriate strategies based on your priorities (and they can also help you refine your priorities). Further, if they offer resume or interviewing guidance; listen to what they have to say. Why wouldn’t you?
  • Network with alumni of your law school. Career services can also help direct you to alums currently employed by firms you may be interested in or others at school who previously summered at a those firms.
  • Enlist their help early on. Many students underestimate the amount of time it takes to prepare for OCI. Give your career services group enough time to give you the help you need.
  • Be nice to your career services group. There are a lot of students competing for their not-infinite time. Stay on their good side; respect their expertise and you’ll likely get more than your fair share of their help.

Other sources you should consult in addition to your school’s career services group

  • Don’t ignore the obvious. ATL’s Law Firm Directory, NALP, Vault, American Lawyer, LexisNexis, Chambers Associate and Martindale Hubbell all provide valuable information. That said, don’t stop there.
  • Another “of course:” firms’ websites. Lots of firms’ websites look and sound almost exactly alike. A little digging on your part may begin to reveal differences that matter to you. If you’ll actually be interviewing with a firm, check out the profiles of the people you’ll be meeting; you might find something in common. Also check them out on LinkedIn (if they don’t belong, that tells you something…) Plus it’s, kinda like, mandatory.
  • Getting (somewhat) creative – include firms you’re interested in your Google Alerts. That way, you’ll know the news about the firm as it’s published. Not only may this sway your opinion of a particular firm, this will help you look especially prepared and up-to-date in your interviews.
  • Get to know the industry more broadly. Read the legal and business press. Understand the trends that may influence the rise or fall of certain practice areas; securities law after Lehman’s swan dive looks a whole lot different than before.
  • Blogs, blogs, blogs. Follow the ones you think are consistently most valuable and reliable. You’ll get insights and perspectives not available elsewhere. Add ones you like to Google Reader (or whatever you prefer) so you don’t have to remember to visit them.
  • Get out there. Reach out to alumni at firms you’re interested and talk to those who summered at those firms. Expand your network beyond your own school. Any of your college pals at other law schools? Don’t ignore friends and family; they want you to succeed nearly as much as you do. Do follow networking etiquette – reciprocate.

Using Social Media in your Job Search

  • Switch your mindset to building a professional brand. Take down any risqué photos of body parts, alcohol binges or goofy musings that you wouldn’t want the Managing Partner of your favorite firm to see. You know you need to do this; now do it.
  • Create business-oriented profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t be too overt about what you want. These are communities, not job posting sites. And, don’t include provocative, funky or suggestive words to describe you. Your goal is to generate goodwill and build a positive image online, which contributes to your personal brand building, too.
  • On Facebook, “like” firms you’re interested in. If there is the opportunity to comment on their newsfeed, by all means do so. Be smart and professional when doing this and watch for the flippant or snarky remarks.
  • Same goes for LinkedIn groups and Twitter. Again, use good judgment in what you post and respond to, how frequently you show up in someone’s group and how you do so. Case in point, never post a comment every day on a page, group, wall, or to someone’s Twitter ID. Too much is annoying, bordering on stalking; too little and you won’t make an impression.
  • Don’t forget firms’ blogs. Begin following blogs of firms you’re interested. Again, engage judiciously. This will help build your “brand” with the firm even before you meet them.

Let us know if you’ve or heard of other helpful job hunting tips.

Up next: Interviews