8 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Job Search

by Hillary Mantis

Fall interview season’s getting started. You want to do well. Here are some potential mistakes you might not be aware you are making:

1. You are not targeting your cover letter: Try to match at least one of the skills the employer is looking for in your cover letter. If you don’t have the work experience, it’s fine to mention a class you took that relates to their practice area. Volunteer work’s fine too. If you send the same cover letter to every position, you might get lost in the shuffle.

2. You have not prepared “success stories” before your interview: It’s so hard to come up with an example of how you have excelled at your job while you are in the heat of the interview. Do yourself a favor and prepare three or four “success stories” — examples of how you took initiative and succeeded at prior jobs or internships. That way you will be able to quickly articulate why you are the perfect person for the job.

3. You didn’t send a thank you note: When you are crazed with on campus interviews and the start of the fall semester, it’s easy to forget to send a thank you. Do it the day of the interview. A short email is fine. If you have a networking meeting you should also always send a thank you note.

4. You didn’t apply quickly enough: Bookmark your school’s job site as well as commercial sites you are using. Check them daily and don’t hesitate — if you see something good, apply right away. Things move quickly at this time of year. Also, check in with your career services office frequently to see if there are last minute OCI cancellations — you might be able to land another interview.

5. You are not asking questions at the end of the interview: Interviewers sometimes perceive not having any questions at the end of an interview to be a sign of disinterest. Have a few ready to go. You should always ask at least one.

6. You are not networking: Take opportunities to attend panels, bar association events, and participate in mentoring programs at your school. These are built in networking opportunities for you to meet alumni and practicing lawyers. Plus, there’s usually free food!

7. Use social media wisely: LinkedIn is an often overlooked networking tool. Even if you are a student, it’s good to upload a profile on LinkedIn. Monitor your other social media sites, including your privacy settings, on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you are not posting anything you would not want an employer to see.

8. Believe in yourself: It’s so easy to get discouraged during this hectic, high pressure time of year. Have patience and believe that it will all work out. Try to hang out with friends who are not in law school if the pressure cooker gets to be too much — or go home and spend a weekend with your family. Just because you have sent out 100 resumes, doesn’t mean that the 101st one won’t land you the perfect job!


Hillary Mantis consults with law students, pre-law students, and lawyers. She is the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers, and a Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University. You can write to Hillary at altcareer@aol.com.