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Unleashing The Power of AI in Your Job Search

The sudden emergence of AI onto the hiring scene has brought in a wave of changes that have transformed how job seekers and recruiters alike approach recruitment and job hunting. With the growing importance of the role of AI in recruitment has come an evolution of a similar ilk in the job search process for candidates on the job market, and in recent months much has been written about how they can leverage tools such as ChatGPT and AI Resume Writer to get the most out of their job search efforts.

However, in order to fully reap the benefits of AI technology as an active jobseeker, a thorough understanding of what exactly AI has brought to the hiring landscape on both sides of the playing field is essential, as one must first know the role of AI in the recruitment process of hiring companies to better understand how it will inform and change your approach to job hunting, as well as understand where it offers many benefits and where it shows its limitations.

Used long since its recent evolution into a highly influential tool for hiring managers, AI has been playing a simple but necessary role in the early stages of the hiring process for over the past two decades, helping companies sort through long lists of candidate applications by automating profile evaluation, and effectively streamlining hiring practices in a variety of other ways to optimise recruitment efforts. And, with how businesses have been forced to adapt in a cut-throat post-pandemic market and economic climate, its importance has only grown.

Shrinking recruiting budgets and growing talent pools have meant that digital technologies have begun playing an increasingly decisive role in the outcome of job seekers’ fates employment-wise. Although in some cases, pertinent (and valid) questions are being asked about transparency and accountability, particularly with how easily it can reflect the biases of its users, and ultimately exacerbate the issue it was meant to eliminate.

With the role of AI in hiring set to only expand in the near future, the importance of being aware of where exactly the winnable battles lie in the job application process – whether that be with the bots or their employers – has never been more crucial for a job seeker.

 

Beating the Bots

It might come across as stating the obvious considering the nature of the process but automated software used in hiring tends to eliminate far more candidates than those pushed through to the next stages. What is rather surprising from this fact is the implication that it’s rarely the most qualified person who gets the job, as stated by career coach and CV writer Lauren Milligan. This is, unsurprisingly due to the cut-throat efficiency with which AI software operates, and when employed in the initial screening stage in the hiring process, can mean candidates’ dreams of securing a highly desired role are over before it’s even begun, despite pouring hours into crafting the perfect CV or cover letter to avoid such a fate.

This won’t be news to some, however, as many are already aware of how these kinds of AI software, usually known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), operate. Their use of keyword matching, to assess your fit based on the extent of the match between your skills and experience and those listed in the job description, has become common knowledge amongst candidates, but it can mean that applicants who are otherwise very much qualified but without the necessary overlap between the required & acquired skills (usually between 70-80%) get cut out.

Another important, but perhaps less known and yet obvious point about how ATS’ work is the chronological order in which they sort through candidate applications. These systems will usually have a cut-off point on their list of applicants in order to save time and efficiently deal with roles oversaturated with job applications. This can mean that regardless of whether or not you have applied the above tips to your job search efforts, the success of your application can hinge on which end of the applicant list you end up on – in other words, how early or how late you apply for any role. Do it too close to the given deadline and even if you did submit it on time, your application will likely end up being dropped simply because it happened to be below the cut-off point.

To this end, employing AI to cut down on the time spent searching for a role by taking your use of it, is now a necessity rather than an option for active job seekers. Fortunately, with how frankly overwhelmed candidates are today by the number and accessibility of AI tools available to aid them in their job search, getting your application axed early is now a very avoidable fate.

Job seekers have the opportunity to optimise their CV to match the job description as accurately as possible and pass that initial litmus test by employing the use of AI CV writer tools, to help to write, suggest edits to and include the right keywords in their CV. While these tools don’t have a steep learning curve, there are pointers that could prove helpful in utilising them well.

 

Feeding The Hopper – Getting Out What You Put In

One of the biggest tips when using any AI tool to generate content is to give it as much context and detail as you can, as the quality of the desired piece (to a degree) depends on what information you provide it. So when writing CVs, using AI tools such as ChatGPT and Resume Kicker, it’s a good idea to provide context regarding your background, achievements, education and work experience, making sure to add in measurable results to back up career achievements like percentages, ranges, findings, as these are things AI tools like ChatGPT won’t automatically know or might fabricate if you don’t tell it.

Some other tools like KickResume or Rezi require just the job title and generate job titles that match it in a bullet point format. Obviously, you are free to change this to your liking as long as it accurately reflects your experience and roles.

 

A Step-By-Step Approach

If you do choose to utilise an AI tool to support, it is a well-known no-no to write the whole document from scratch, simply because it increases the likelihood of fabricated details being added to your draft. A better approach would be to do it section by section, beginning with your personal statement, then your experience & responsibilities, then your achievements, and so on. This not only helps to avoid having false information but it also makes it easier to spot it as you work through your draft section by section, should it still be added in, and allows you to better format your CV while doing so.

 

Find Tools To Support (Not Replace) Your ’Marketing’

When employing AI to help craft your CV or Cover letter), utilising tools that simulate the keyword-matching process is useful as they can scan your document for keywords/phrases relevant to the job description.

This is where the crux of the issue lies when trying to get past any ATS and as previously mentioned, a failure to do this can make other efforts to get your foot through the door meaningless, even if you do have the right skills and credentials for the role in question.

There is specific software on the market now such as TheProfessional.Me to address just this; with both CV scanning and CV writing tools to analyse your job descriptions and include relevant keywords. There are also browser plugins like Jobanalytics, which work in a similar manner, to ensure that your CV has a high enough keyword match to be considered eligible by the ATS.

 

Forget Your Formatting At Your Peril

When it comes to CV formatting and layout, keeping this clean and simple is just good advice to ensure your salient points are clear and don’t get lost.  Plus, your formatting must be simplistic so it is as easy to scan as possible  – both physically by a hiring manager and by any ATS platforms used. The reason for this is that ATS’ usually reject CVs with more complex formatting elements such as boxes, tables or graphics and favours CVs with a more traditional layout as they are easier to analyse. While this can undermine attempts from candidates to convey a strong personal brand through their CVs and Cover Letters (more on this later), it is necessary to avoid getting booted by the system automatically, especially if your CV ticks all the other boxes. So be sure to space out your sentences and structure them in an easily digestible format, using bullet points and professional fonts like Times New Roman.

 

Tidying Up Your Digital Footprint

If you use AI tools to update and refine your CV, you’ll also want to update your online CV too – namely, your LinkedIn profile. Optimising your work experience here is key to include keywords and phrases relevant to the type of role you want. Go into as much detail as you are able and don’t forget to include any tangible results that back up any statements.

Whilst a CV builder can certainly help to lay the foundations, quite simply, this is the one area it won’t be able to finesse as this knowledge lies with you – so be prepared once again to adapt, edit, and personalise your profile accordingly.

 

Preparation Support For Interviews

As you progress down the recruitment process as a jobseeker, AI tools are flooding the market to help here too. Take ChatGPT for example which can simulate mock interviews or provide a list of questions that it recommends you ask as a candidate looking for a role in a specific practice area.

Google meanwhile has developed its own interview-preparation tool, Interview Warmup where you are asked to ‘speak’ your answers out loud whilst the tool transcribes and then provides insights into what you said.

This is a great tool to not only give you a chance to practice and perfect your responses, but also to learn about your pace, word choices, intonation, and hesitations. Being aware of these (and what you need to improve on) will undoubtedly help you to prepare for the day in question.

However, what such tools won’t give you is insight on the ‘typical’ questions asked by that particular firm; what the hiring manager or Partner is looking for specifically, any intel on how previous interviews with that firm have tended to run, or the inside track on the vacancy, make up of the team, or historic hiring activity.

 

Can AI Really Do It All?

While AI brings numerous benefits it’s important to acknowledge some potential drawbacks as well – at least for the time being.

CVs and cover letters are still as important as ever to do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting your profile noticed – whether that’s for a direct job application, a speculative send to an employer, or when you register with a recruitment agency to represent you in the market. And, whilst AI tools can certainly give you a foundation on which to build your content, it is unlikely to suitably represent your own personality. Rather, without intervention, you run the risk of producing an identikit CV containing the same words, phrases, and points as another legal professional applying for the role who has done the same.

Yes – in some ways, it levels the playing field as you no longer have to be a wordsmith to craft a well-honed CV. However, in other ways, as the use of AI becomes more widely adopted, it becomes increasingly more difficult to genuinely stand out.

 

In Conclusion

AI is revolutionising most industries in some way shape or form, and the world of hiring and recruitment is no exception.

Tools and platforms purporting to make the road to a new role easier appear to launch in the market at a rate of knots, offering all kinds of services from CV writing and screening, to job matching, virtual career advisors, LinkedIn optimisation, and document creation.

Undoubtedly there are numerous benefits to job seekers who often are time-poor, to help at least get a good foundation on their ‘marketing’ collateral. However, it’s important to remember that AI is not a substitute for human involvement or insight.

The human touch and intuition still play a crucial role, especially when assessing soft skills and cultural fit. Registration with a reputable legal recruitment agency will help to fill this gap, and can help to give you the inside track on hiring, the background to that position being open, other opportunities not advertised in the open market, and support as you prepare to interview.

And,  whilst it is our job to shout from the rooftops why legal professionals should use the services of a recruitment consultant to give them a tangible step up and competitive advantage, now more than ever, those who are tapping into the sector expertise of agencies are reaping the benefits and continuing their own journeys of career progression – even if they are dipping their toe into the world of AI.

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or perhaps have had your fingers burnt by a bad hire in the past, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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The 7-Step Action Plan for Legal Jobseekers

  • August 29, 2023

Embarking on a job search can be an exciting yet daunting journey, not least for legal professionals that may be entering the job market for the first time in years. The process itself is marked by numerous crucial decisions and considerations, whether this is your first legal role after qualification, or a move well into your career.

And, whilst it may be tempting to jump into the process with both feet, it’s always worth taking a small step back, and approach the task at hand with a strategic mindset.

The critical factor here is doing the work needed to get organised and implement your ‘project new role’ plan – even if time is short.

To help kickstart the process, we have outlined an 8-step roadmap, focusing on key actions to take at each stage that can help to make it both easier and significantly enhance your prospects from the get-go.

Step 1: Consider what you want from your new role

Before beginning your job search, it’s important to sit down and have a think about what exactly you’re looking for. You might be instinctively looking for a role that is similar to your current one, or you might have had a change of heart and are looking at a role in a different practice area, or area of specialism. Regardless of what your initial preference might be, it’s important that you take some time to re-evaluate your career progress, goals, how close you are to achieving them and what steps you can take to get you there. Have your priorities changed since you last considered looking for work? If so, what are those boxes your new role should absolutely be ticking career and personal-wise? Having a clear idea of what to look for in your job search will help to make it a much more fruitful venture. 

Step 2: Enlist the help of a specialist

Once you’re set on the direction and purpose of your search, the next logical step is to decide whether to go it alone and spend time researching opportunities in the market, your region, and your practice area and apply to vacancies advertised.

The alternative is to enlist the help of a reputable legal recruitment specialist who will search the market on your behalf, and present you with (often exclusive) roles that are designed to be the absolute best ‘fit’ for you and your requirements from your next employer.

A legal specialist will be particularly helpful if you are aiming to carry out your job search with discretion while currently employed. Not only will they help you do the  above but they can also ensure you are fully informed and in the know about the culture, vision, and values of the firms that you have in mind as well as provide guidance on how best to approach the other parts of the hiring process, including interview preparation, how to handle your notice period, and leave on good terms with your current employer. 

Step 3: Get your documentation in order  

Even in a world where 91% of all employers now use social media as part of their hiring process, the CV/Resume is still one of the most important tools any candidate has.

It is the first thing most employers will look at before even thinking about inviting someone to an interview. It’s also your best chance to immediately introduce your education and experience. Used correctly, your CV can improve your chances of getting the ideal job.

Unless you are searching for your very first legal role, you will need to make some time to update any existing or old documents, adding in your most recent experience and any new skills you’ve picked up (that are relevant for the role you want of course).

When listing previous roles, don’t just describe your responsibilities. Rather use it as an opportunity to showcase results you produced, and can produce for prospective employers by detailing your achievements in the role you’re describing. 

What you want to do here is take this opportunity to convince a hiring manager you’re the right fit for the role in question, and avoid the common mistake of using your CV as a catch-all document for every potential role. If you want to write a killer CV that stands out to prospective employers, it must be relevant to them. Research the firm, look over the job description and make a note of all the important qualities and experiences they value and then, tailor your CV accordingly.  

Step 4: Include a Cover Letter 

At Clayton Legal, we’ve long been advocates of the humble cover letter to create standout for our legal candidates and provide that golden opportunity to add personality and interest in the role, over and above a CV.

Without a cover letter, your job application is just another sheet of paper, or another PDF file on the computer screen – one often lacking in personality and excitement. It is also much more likely to be skimmed over and discarded; worse, not read at all.

However, that’s not to say that any old cover letter will do. Crafting a compelling cover letter seems to be somewhat of a dying art in recent times, and whilst it has certainly evolved, it is still a worthwhile document to have in your job-seeking armoury.

Whilst we have a number of top tips when it comes to cover letter etiquette, in short, keep it short. Keep it readable. Keep it relevant to the job offer. Get someone to check it. Above all, put some serious effort into making sure it’s as good as it possibly can be, as a lack of effort will rarely open the door to an interview.

Step 5: Carry out your due diligence

If you are considering moving into a different practice area, it goes without saying that you need to ensure you do your homework. Find out as much as you can about your chosen area of specialism by thorough research and attending relevant webinars and workshops, and consider what evidence there is to show that a different practice area can actually provide what you’re looking for. Networking can prove incredibly useful to this effect. Leverage professional networks, both online and offline, to connect with individuals that possess a background & experience you could greatly benefit from, and consider joining trade associations and special interest groups to stay informed on what opportunities that switching may or may not provide you. 

If you’re moving into a different kind of role – managerial perhaps, look at a range of job profiles in detail and prepare to demonstrate your suitability and knowledge of what will be involved. Linking this back to your own CV here is key.

Step 6: Get your digital footprint in order 

If you don’t already as a legal professional, ensure that you harness the power of LinkedIn in your job search as it will not only help to expand your network but also help to build a winning personal brand with a presence compelling enough to catch the eye of employers. This is what makes your LinkedIn profile one of the most important assets in your search. As a platform that provides immense value for professional relationships, learning how to utilise it can facilitate eventual life-long connections with potential mentors and employers. 

If you already have a strong online presence (be that on LinkedIn or in a personal capacity on other platforms) you should also make some time to check your digital footprint. Are there any posts or content that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see? Consider your privacy settings in the very least and give everything a thorough review with fresh eyes (profile pictures, bios etc).

Step 7: Prepare, prepare, prepare

Landing a new role is all about confidence. The more confident you are in yourself, the better chance you have of securing a new position when you get to the all-important interview stage.

This is where preparation is a non-negotiable.

Practising and preparing for potential and/or upcoming interviews equips you with not only the skills, but also the readiness to go into the interview room and effectively communicate your suitability to employers. Begin looking at the most common questions candidates are asked in interviews and draft your answers to match what they’ll be looking for in your responses.

On that note, it is worth practising adjusting your body language and facial expressions as those can often impact the first impression you’re trying to give more than what you actually say, considering it is something hiring managers will also pay particular attention to. There are also common mistakes to avoid in your preparation too, which we delve into here 

In Conclusion

Entering the job market can be daunting – whether at the start of your career, or part-way through (when you will have been through this process before). And, even if you find yourself back here after many years of employment, don’t assume the steps to success are the same as they always were.

The market continues to evolve for jobseekers and hirers alike – be that from a tech perspective, or the general landscape impacting decisions throughout the process.

That’s where enlisting the help of a specialist recruiter will undoubtedly pay dividends in the long run as they can help to map out your plan of attack, support with your documentation, and really help to elevate your profile in front of your next employer. And, if you’re still a little step behind and just want to weigh up your options, many will be more than happy to chat through market conditions and the opportunities out there at the moment.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT 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.

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