Get noticed, get standout, get hired: Top 10 Tips to supercharge your legal job application
- October 5, 2021
For legal professionals considering a career move, navigating the job market, now more than ever, can be daunting, especially in practice areas where creating stand out is key. Making sure your application is the one that gets noticed, makes that vital positive first impression and works hard to get you that interview, and into that dream role is key. Read our top 10 tips:
1. Do the groundwork thoroughly
You’ve scoured the market, you’ve seen a new opportunity that has piqued your interest, and you know you’re a great fit – but taking a step back and researching that new opportunity beyond the advert is important. Research the firm thoroughly, even if you’re already aware of their brand and reputation in the market. Look at their digital footprint, their social media channels, their brand, and voice across the sector. What are their values, their mission and vision? What are their growth plans and future aspirations? If, at the end of the process you’re sure you’re on the right path, this undertaking will pay dividends at interview stage in demonstrating your knowledge about them as a potential employer.
2. Give your CV some TLC
Neglect your CV at your peril. This humble document is still a pivotal tool to sell your skills, competences and experience and is often the first opportunity you have to impress. Pay close attention to spelling and grammar and don’t forget the basics – clear formatting, chronological work history, personal contact details – but above all make the time to make it relevant to the role you’re applying for. For those who have previous experience outside of legal, perhaps just include the basics here – Company, job title and employment dates. You can then use the remaining space you have to focus on the experience and skills from your most recent roles – applicable, of course, to the role you’re applying for. The same applies if you have many years of experience – you won’t have the space to describe in detail each role and your responsibilities and achievements; particularly as we’d recommended a CV should be on average 2/3 pages long – and at most, 4 depending on your level of experience. Leveraging those skills and experience to make it clear you’re a match is vital – make it compelling, engaging but above all, specific.
3. Learn to love a cover letter
Whilst some believe the ‘cover letter’ as a tool in your application armory has had its day, many in the legal sector concede that they do still have a part to play in allowing lawyers to further demonstrate suitability for roles and illustrate relevant skills and experience. Again – making it specific to the role and that Firm is key. Demonstrate you’ve done your research about that Firm and highlight why you’re the person they need to hire. Be clear, concise and don’t ramble. We’d recommend keeping it to the one page if you can.
4. Hone that elevator pitch
Refining and perfecting your elevator pitch is time well spent as a jobseeker – and will add value when you’re in an interview scenario further down the line. Being able to articulate your intent, unique attributes, experience, and skill set in 30-60 seconds is an art, but once you have this crafted, it can be used to help define your personal statement and across online application forms.
5. Set aside time
Taking time to search the market for new opportunities takes time, and with those prospective roles in sight, formal job applications often take much longer than you might think – especially if you take on board the advice to personalise your application and supporting documents. Setting time aside in your schedule to dedicate to your job application activity is crucial; factoring in time to proofread, spell check and customise.
6. Embrace the tech
The pandemic has certainly brought about a lot of change when it comes to hiring legal professionals – virtual interviews and onboarding made possible through the rapid acceleration and adoption of tech solutions. As a job seeker, look to standout with alternative ways to raise your personal profile. Video platforms for example are a great way to add personality and weight to your application far beyond the traditional CV and cover letter duo. Requests for video supported applications are increasing, and often facilitated by recruitment agencies. Embrace these tools if they’re offered as another vehicle to demonstrate your suitability.
7. Time to get personal
Without a doubt, your (relevant) experience, skills, qualifications, and education are the hero elements of your legal job application– be that in your CV or a Firm’s own application form. But highlighting your interests out of work is still a great technique to demonstrate your personal qualities, and how you might fit with company culture. Often an optional section of your application forms or CV, that doesn’t mean they’re a waste of time. Rather, used smartly, hobbies and interests can really strengthen your application and make you more ‘human’. Try to stay away from stipulating interests that don’t really demonstrate a skill or quality that you’re hoping the hiring manager is looking for. ‘Going out with friends’ for example may be something you do outside of work, but it does little to further exhibit your strengths, skill set, personality, or transferrable qualities relating to the job at hand.
8. Audit your own digital footprint
Like it or not, hirers may conduct their own research into you as a potential employee far beyond the documentation that you have sent to champion that application. Therefore, it’s always wise to sense-check your social media channels to either set to private, or ensure your profile is one you wouldn’t mind your new employer seeing.
9. Boost your network
Connecting with the Hiring Manager at the Firm you’re applying to on LinkedIn may seem bullish, but it can be a savvy move and increase your chances of getting an interview. The connection request should be seen as another opportunity to introduce yourself and interest in the role and wider Firm. Being proactive means you could also open up conversations around the role in more detail that the job spec advertised, and a reciprocal ‘follow’ or connection will offer that individual another window into your experience and voice in the market. It is also worth saying that at this juncture, keep it professional. You don’t want to pile any pressure on regarding your application at this stage.
10. Enlist the help of an expert
Formally registering with a specialist recruitment agency will undoubtedly give you a head start with your job search – furnishing you with market insight as well as the inside track on the Law Firms that are hiring. And, when that dream role is in sight, you’ll be offered practical advice on the basics, refined by experts who live the hiring process and all of its anomalies day in, day out.
If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. personnel to Practice Managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.