An outstanding resume is only one part of a successful job search. Yes, it is one of the biggest parts of your job search, but it is still only one part. It cannot always be successful in isolation, particularly in a tight job market. Consider where you stand with regard to other aspects of a well-planned job search campaign—which, not incidentally, can also bring long-term career success.
1. Cover Letters. Cover letters are also investments that some people consider to be gambles. It’s true that many legal recruiters, hiring attorneys, hiring directors, and others do not read cover letters at all. It’s also true that some do, and they care very much about what those cover letters say—they want a sense of who you are, what your principles and philosophy are, how you can contribute, and the source of your interest in them. Unfortunately, as a job seeker, you are unlikely to know to which camp the recipient of your application package belongs. It’s safest to assume that your prospective employer will read the cover letter and cares about its contents.
2. Online Reputation And Brand Management. Prospective employers can and do perform social media background checks—sometimes even before calling you in for an interview. Google yourself. Look at Facebook, LinkedIn, LawLink, and other social media/networking sites. Is your image professional? Are you comfortable with what’s out there, waiting to be discovered by a prospective employer? One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is: Would I be comfortable discussing this in an interview? If not, you need to clean up, bury, or otherwise distance yourself from that digital dirt.Even if you’re certain that you can pass a social media background check with flying colors, your online image might need improvement. The best online images don’t just protect you from indiscrete college photos; they work to your advantage in both the short-run (i.e., finding a job) and the long-run (i.e., building a career).
3. Job Search and Professional Development Action Plans. Develop realistic action plans to reach each step of your goals, and hold yourself accountable to them. Consider forming an accountability or mastermind group to help you think through your action plans, bounce ideas off, and keep your morale high. Periodically review the plans to make sure you’re still on-target, and to make sure your target still makes sense.
4. Interviewing. Are you a new lawyer who hasn’t interviewed much before? Have you had several initial interviews, but no call-backs or offers? If you, you might need to work on your interviewing skills. Review how you’ve performed in past interviews, conduct and then deconstruct your performance in mock interviews, and figure out where you can improve. Perhaps you need more confidence, need to slow down to listen to (and answer!) interviewers questions, or need to learn how to positively address weak points in your background.
5. Networking. Although even the word “networking” makes a lot of people uncomfortable, it’s the most reliable way to find a job and to improve your career is through networking. Don’t go into the process thinking about what you need and about what other people can do for you. Go into the process thinking about building a team that helps each member advance. Who complements you? What can you offer others? Think of ways you can give—rather than just take—and networking will be more natural and successful.