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Now more than ever, finding a job can be a job of its own. But there are ways to make the journey more enjoyable and fruitful. As you prepare for the job search, follow these tips to strengthen your chances of finding a job you will love.
Update your resume: As you think about your training and previous positions, identify the knowledge you brought to the job, the skills you learned, and the successes you had in your position. Although some of this information will not find a place in the resume itself, knowing your knowledge, skills, and successes will help narrow your search to look for the types of positions in which you can thrive. Go online and search for examples of resumes in your desired field to get an idea of how to develop and design yours for the highest impact.
Gather references: Whether you apply to jobs directly or work with a recruiter, you are going to need a few letters of recommendation. Prepare now by reaching out to previous employers and letting them know the type of jobs you are looking into. Give the person time to write. Never ask for the letter to be written in less than one week.
Get better at what you do: If you are early in your career or your resume needs some strengthening elements, give yourself a boost.
- Take online courses related to your field to expand your knowledge and skill set. Free courses on valuable topics, such as critical thinking, project management, team building, marketing, etc., are offered through Coursera, Stanford Online, Skillshare, and many other online platforms. Search for free online classes and you will find a wealth of options. When you use your time to become better, you gain an advantage over other candidates.
- Create a professional social media presence. Set up or update your LinkedIn page to highlight your accomplishments, training, experience, and interests. When you take online courses, post about what you are learning on social media. Potential employers will look at your LinkedIn page, so reach out to previous employers and colleagues to ask them to post skills endorsements and recommendations on your profile.
- Cull your other social media accounts. Review each picture you have posted and been tagged in to be sure that you are portrayed as a professional candidate. Look at the image and text of every post with a critical eye. If the content covers something you would not discuss at a job interview, remove it. Make your personal social media pages private during your job search.
Choose your starting point – temporary, permanent, or temp-to-perm: As you begin your job search, consider your needs. Do you want a permanent position that allows you to cultivate your career or do you want a temporary position that allows
more flexibility in exploring potential career options? Maybe you are interested in a temp-to-perm position where you can explore several roles through one temp agency without appearing as if you are hopping from job to job. As our economy emerged from the 2008 recession, many firms hired temps as they got back on their feet, so temp-to-perm positions are a strong option right now. Bear in mind, however, that temporary positions do not offer the same benefits as permanent positions might, so be sure to negotiate your pay to cover your own cost of health insurance, retirement contributions, and vacation time.
Choose your team – me or we? You will have to decide whether to job search alone or work with a recruiter. To search alone, you can look through job listings on forums like ZipRecruiter.com or Indeed.com. The benefit to doing your own internet
search is that you will find hundreds of job listings that reveal what is available in that market. If you are hoping to relocate, online job listings can help you get an idea of where you might go. Keep in mind that recruiters cannot legally work with a candidate who is already being considered by the firm, but candidates do not know that a firm is considering them until they are called for an interview. So, if you start sending your resume out to firms directly and decide later to use a recruiter, the recruiter’s ability to advocate on your behalf with those firms will have been impeded.
Good recruiters will have a curated list of jobs for you because they have already sorted through hundreds of online posts to develop a list of options tailored to your interests and skills. Good recruiters also have cultivated personal relationships with firms that do not post to job websites and will create a relationship with you to understand your style and how you thrive. With this knowledge, a good recruiter will connect you with a firm that fits your skill set and will advocate on your behalf, like your very own PR person – this includes showing who you are beyond your resume and leading salary and benefits negotiations.
Look for a recruiter with a lot of experience in legal staffing. There is no formal training or certificate program for recruiters, so evidence of survival in the legal staffing field matters. Good recruiters will have strong connections to firms and professional
organizations related to legal work and are likely to have presented at conferences. Check out their websites and look for reviews on Google, Glassdoor, and other sites that allow employees and customers to share their experiences. Also look at their LinkedIn pages to gauge their longevity and expertise. Good recruiters are interested in matchmaking, so they will tell you if they are not a good fit for your needs and refer you to someone who is a better match. They should want more than just to get you a job somewhere; they should want you to be happy in your placement. Ask these three questions to help you decide which recruiter to work with:
- Will you work with me or will someone else on your staff handle my case? If it will be someone else on staff, ask to talk with that person. You will be building a relationship, so you must want to work with this person. It is important to meet them.
- How long have you been doing legal staff recruiting at this agency? Longevity in the business is important, and longevity with the same agency proves the recruiter’s ability to do the work well.
- How will you advocate for me in my job search? The way recruiters answer this question should reveal their passion for the field, their professional connections, and the value they place on your satisfaction with the process and the placement.
The job market is fluctuating these days, but legal staff jobs are waiting for you. By preparing yourself and tapping into those who can advocate on your behalf, you will set yourself up to find a great position.
About the author:
In 2011, Jennifer joined NorthStar Legal’s team, bringing along many years of experience and interpersonal skills. Her background as a small business owner has honed her people skills and taught her how to anticipate client needs. She continues working tirelessly to carry on NorthStar Legal’s mission: to find the perfect fit between applicant and client.