The Two “Whys” of Job Hunting for Lawyers

You have landed an interview for your dream law job.  Maybe you sent in a resume and cover letter and you were fortunate to be selected from a pile of applicants for the first round. Perhaps a recruiter introduced you to the law firm or company.  Or more likely, you leveraged your network* to help your resume rise to the top of the pile and get you in the door.  Perhaps you aren’t sure yet if this is your dream job; but now it is game time.

Over the years, I’ve prepared hundreds of candidates for interviews and while my advice about interviewing still stands (updated here for a virtual world), I’ve come to appreciate that there are two key questions that you need to be able to answer convincingly in an interview:  Why should the firm or company hire you? and Why do you want the job?

On the surface, why should the firm hire you may seem obvious. They selected you for an interview because you have the skills and experience that they need.  You need to be able to address questions that get to the core of your competence to perform the job.  If you are asked about experience that you lack, you need to be able to explain how other things you have done can make up for anything that is missing from your resume.

But even more important is your ability to explain why you are the best candidate (i.e. beyond your competence).

One way to do this is to demonstrate that you are the candidate that really wants to job.  Companies like to hire individuals that are interested in them (i.e. not candidates who are merely trying to leave a bad situation or candidates who are interested in them but are really just looking for a better paycheck).

Beyond showing enthusiasm to continue with the process and explaining that you meet the requirements in the job description, what are some

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Career Planning for Junior Associates–BBA Webinar: Should I Stay or Should I Go?–And How to Get There

The legal job market was strong until the start of 2020.  And then came COVID.  If you are currently a junior associate at a law firm, chances are that your first job search was more reactive than proactive.  There were lots of options.  Law firms came on campus for OCI and you ended up working as a summer associate (and eventually received an offer of permanent employment).  Or maybe you responded to a posting from your career services office or even saw an ad on Indeed or LinkedIn for an entry level job.

The market has shifted and now that you’ve been on the job for a couple of years, what is the next step in your career?  Partnership?  Perhaps.  But the reality for most associates is that they will make at least one move in the first few years of practice.  Some associates will make a lateral move to another firm, while others may opt for in-house corporate roles, government agencies or even launching their own firms.

If you are a junior associate in your first job out of law school and you are looking for more career insights about these issues, join Stephen Seckler and Linda Kline for a live webinar at the Boston Bar Association on October 15th.

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Is Your Career Like a Canoe Trip or Whitewater Rafting?

Family white water rafting Clear Creek Idago Springs, Colorado August 10, 2016Is your legal career like a canoe ride across a lake or like a whitewater rafting trip? In my latest podcast, I speak with Jose Sierra a partner at Holland and Knight who has done it all (Clerked in 5th Circuit, served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, served as senior vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer for two pharmaceutical companies, and worked at small, mid-sized and large law firms).

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In a Tight Labor Market, Show the Love

beatles_concert-862x453Thanks to my colleague Amy Levine for her valuable input and wisdom which helped in drafting this post.

It continues to be a strong labor market and the war for legal talent remains fierce in some circles.  Good candidates have options and great candidates are not staying on the job market for very long. 

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Flexibility and Urgency in Hiring

It’s no longer 2009.  With unemployment rates hovering close to 4%, employers need to change their approach to recruiting talent. In the legal search business, we are seeing candidates who are being much more discriminating about what jobs they are willing to consider.  In certain areas of practice, notably corporate, real estate and IP, the … Read more

Career Happiness Comes through Trial and Error

"The only thing to fear is fear itself"
“The only thing to fear is fear itself”

It is no secret that lawyers as a group are an unhappy lot.  I could give my own explanation for this but today, after we have just sworn in a President who is starting a new career, I thought I would share a few thoughts about career changes and career happiness (I’ll save my political comments for Facebook).

Once upon a time (i.e. back in the 1980’s when I was coming into the workforce), career professionals were quick to tell college students to follow their passions.  The idea was to identify a career that inspired you and that was consistent with your skills and vocational interests.  If you followed this path, career success was sure to follow.

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Just Say “Not Right Now”

justsaynoIt’s the New Year and if you are like many successful professionals, expect the headhunter calls to increase in the coming weeks.  Simply put, we in the recruiting business know that this is a good time of year to connect with talent.  Many people take stock in their careers around January 1.

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Speak the Truth and Nothing But the Truth-But it doesn’t have to be the “whole” truth

What does “integrity” mean in an interview situation?  Certainly, you have the obligation to tell the truth during a job interview.  But having an obligation to tell the truth does not imply an obligation to to share every sordid detail of your past with prospective employers. The current election has reaffirmed my belief that integrity … Read more