the legal job hunt: what to expect

As most of you know, I am on what has felt like an endless job hunt (in reality, it has only been about a month, but I am OVER IT). Any job hunt essentially has 4 components: research, applications, interviews, and offers.

Research: This is the stage that should be fairly quick, if you know what field you're going into and what positions you're looking for. Essentially, you're gathering all the resources and information that you need to know in order to make an informed decision about where you're going next career-wise. When you're in the research stage, you're surfing the web and looking at sites like LinkedIn as if it's your (lol) job. This stage can last as long as you want it to, really, but it's important that you don't move on to the application processes until you have a good idea about the general positions you're going for.

Applications: This is the point at which you start finding specific job postings to apply for. In my experience, most associate attorney positions require a resume and cover letter at a minimum. Some require a list of references, transcripts, writing samples, or any combination of the above. I found it easiest to have a template resume, cover letter, and writing samples. Then, for each position I applied to, I made copies and tailored the documents to that specific position before submitting. It feels time-consuming to write a "blanket" cover letter and resume and writing samples that you do not end up sending to any firm, but I promise it makes each application go so much smoother when you can just edit the details and specific paragraphs, rather than starting from scratch every time.

Interviews: At some point in the application process, you're going to start getting interviews (unless you're not qualified for the jobs you're applying for, in which case you should head on back to the "research" stage). If you're lucky, these will be reasonably spaced out, but more likely than not you're going to get hit four interviews in one week after having nothing planned for a month. I'll do a separate post on interview tips & tricks, but when scheduling interviews be mindful of how much you can personally handle. Interviews are TAXING and in my opinion, more than one a day is way too exhausting, although some people do it. It's the combination of getting ready, doing my hair and makeup, and being upbeat and confident for extended periods of time while also battling your own internal stresses and anxieties that can make interviews exhausting. Be smart about it and don't take on more at a time than you can handle! Keep this in mind moving forward, since a lot of firms require second or even third interviews for associate positions. Additionally, don't interview for a firm you're not genuinely interested in working for - it wastes your time, and theirs. If you want to do some kind of "practice" interview, you should use your school's career center, not an actual lawyer looking to staff his office.

Offers: Once your interviews have gone well, a firm will probably put a offer in your inbox. It's important to read through offer letters carefully and know EXACTLY what the offers entail (Benefits? Salary? Bonuses? Billable hour expectations? Vacation?). If you have any questions, make sure you ask before signing! Also, if you're in the interview/offer stage with multiple firms, don't be afraid to ask for time to consider offers; don't pressure yourself into accepting the first position you're offered simply because you don't know when another one will come along.

Having not locked down a job yet, I can't totally speak to every little detail of the hiring process, but I have gotten several externships and legal jobs throughout school. If you haven't looked for a legal job yet, this is just a general idea of what to expect, but this isn't even necessarily law-specific. Legal interviews can be very different than "normal" interviews, but the entire process isn't rocket science. Employers want to hire competent, teachable, intelligent, and fun employees that match their values. That's true no matter what industry you're in.

Hit me with your best interview tip below! I'll try to include some of them in my next post.