Under the best conditions, it is stressful to apply for summer, articling and first-year-associate jobs. That stress is doubled when looking for a job during an economic downturn. While we can’t be 100-percent certain of the future, the legal market will likely be impacted by the pandemic. You can, however, take steps now that will increase your chances of finding gainful employment later.
Despite the pandemic, individuals’ legal problems have not disappeared. People still need lawyers. When clients hire lawyers, they choose the ones who are accessible and visible. And lawyers are the same: they hire students and recent graduates who are accessible and visible. So how do you, as a prospective employee, stand out? Here are five cost-effective and simple actions you can take to build your profile and set yourself up for success in the hiring game.
1. Build your (lawyer) social-media profile. Now is a good time to transition your existing social-media profiles — or start new profiles — that reflect your identity as a professional. You don’t have to change who you are, but you should make it clear that you are an up-and-coming lawyer. Follow, connect and engage with other lawyers on social media. To start, search #LawTwitter or #LawyersofInstagram.
LinkedIn is particularly important because it describes your education and work experiences to potential employers. Make sure it is up to date with your employment and volunteer history, including your expected graduation date. Then start connecting with others, posting interesting articles and commenting on posts. This is how you become visible to potential employers.
2. Write. All lawyers need to be excellent writers. The best way to demonstrate your writing skills to potential employers is to publish your work now. It does not have to be a formal legal journal article. If you wrote a case comment for a class, take the feedback your professor gave you, polish it up and post it on LinkedIn. You can also contact a lawyer association, online legal news publication or popular law blog with a potential article idea. Everyone is looking for content.
3. Reach out virtually. Relationships are an important part of job hunting. Not all job postings are public. The more people you can connect with, the greater chances you have of learning about job opportunities. Everyone knows someone, so reach out to your professors and contact lawyers you have met on social media. Suggest a phone call or a virtual coffee. But be respectful of their time.
4. Volunteer. Despite the pandemic, legal organizations still need volunteers who can assist remotely. Reach out to see if you can volunteer your time and gain experience. If you’re not sure where to start, two current law students have founded a non-profit, called LawLinks, that connects students with legal organizations seeking assistance on a project. You can register with the initiative online.
5. Cut yourself some slack. This article is not meant to overwhelm you. These suggestions are fairly easy to undertake and do not cost you any money. However, do what feels right for you and what you can handle right now. That might be completing one of the above or all of the above. Just remember: students who show initiative now may have a greater advantage later.