By Hillary Mantis
There are so many do’s and don’ts to follow when you are looking for a job. They may relate to the interview, your resume or any other aspect of the job search.
Here are some more pitfalls to avoid:
- Don’t pressure yourself. It’s so easy to worry if you aren’t able to get a job overnight. Or if all of your friends and classmates seem to have jobs lined up. I find that job offers often arrive just when you’ve almost given up. Think long term, not short term, and have faith that it will work out. Do not discuss your job search with too many people if it makes you more nervous. Talk to those who are most encouraging.
- Don’t limit yourself to on campus employers. It’s so nice when employers come right to your school for interviews and the Career Services office sets up the schedule. But it’s a big world out there, and the majority of legal employers don’t interview on law school campuses. So don’t feel bad if you don’t get a job offer through OCI — it’s a very small segment of the legal employer population overall. (Find more stats about when law grads get job offers here.) Answer online ads, network, volunteer, and talk to professors — get the word out there that you are looking for a job.
- Don’t underestimate the value of reaching out to alumni. Most job seekers feel really uncomfortable reaching out to strangers to ask for a job or a networking interview. But alumni are not strangers! You shared the same campus, the same courses and probably even the same professors. Alumni will most likely want to help you if they can. You can find them through LinkedIn, your school’s alumni directory and through school mentor programs.
- Don’t be passive during job interviews. I recently heard a partner at a law firm advise students to talk up to 80 percent of the time during an interview. I think the partner raises a good point — whether it’s 50 percent or 80 percent, it’s important to actively contribute during the interview rather than just passively answering questions. Make sure the interviewer knows all of the important qualifications you have for the position — even if you have to mention them during the question and answer part of the interview.
- Don’t ask about the salary during the first interview. Don’t you wish more employers would just state the salary up-front so you know what it is when you are applying? Some do, but most don’t. It’s often considered a job interview “don’t”, though, to raise the issue before the employer does during the first interview. Generally, a company will talk salary closer to when they may to extend an offer. When they ask if you have any questions during the first interview, it’s more typical to ask about the job specifics than the salary. But be prepared to negotiate when they do bring it up. Once the topic has been raised, it’s certainly fair game to discuss the salary and benefits offered.
- Don’t use vague phrases on your resume. Use examples. I have read hundreds of resumes that state the applicant is a team player or a hard worker. That’s great — but vague and unsubstantiated. I always think that applicants have copied those types of phrases from resume templates. Instead, try to give concrete examples. For example, instead of just saying that you are a hard worker, you could instead to say that you work 15 hours a week to contribute towards your law school expenses, and still maintain a high GPA. It will most likely be much more impressive to potential employers.
Hillary Mantis advises law students, pre-law students and lawyers. She is the author of “Alternative Careers for Lawyers” and director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.