Job Searching Beyond Job Postings

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10/05/2012 by loyolalawcso

Job postings, like those on our Symplicity system, are one way to get a job, but they are not the only or the best way. Although we love it when employers post jobs with us, we want you to expand your job search beyond responding to job postings for three reasons:

• Job postings represent only a tiny fraction of the legal jobs that are available to law students. Experts agree that in this economy, the number of jobs filled through networking is 90%. What does that mean for you? If you are concentrating on only job postings, you are missing 90% of the jobs that are out there! Don’t assume that all or most jobs available to you will beposted on Symplicity or another job posting source. In this down market, legal employers need not post jobs to find excellent, enthusiastic law students interested in working for them.

Most positions are filled by word of mouth, personal recommendations, and networking. And most employers, especially public interest and service oriented employers, for whom your commitment to the issue or population they serve is a key factor in hiring, expect you to reach out to them if you are interested, not the other way around.

• Posted positions are very competitive because they attract so many applications. Bear in mind that postings on Symplicity are usually not exclusive to Loyola. Employers often send the same posting to many law schools. The same is true for postings that you find on other online sources, like PSJD, monster.com, or the CBA website.

• Responding to postings by sending your resume and cover letter sometimes is not enough to land an interview. For many students, the best of what you have to offer does not always come through on paper. Most of us need an opportunity to impress an employer in person before handing over a resume.

How do you get that opportunity?

1) Identify employers that practice in an area that interests you.
• Use the Four or More list to identify small firms that are doing work in an area that interests you.
• Check our links to some of Chicago’s public interest organizations but also do Google searches for “legal aid” or “non-profit” and the issue or issues that interest you (fair housing, domestic violence, education, etc.)
• The Government Resources section of our website can give you a feel for the myriad federal, state and local government agencies that hire law students.
• See the lists of where students worked for the past two summers on our website.

2) Identify people who work for those employers. After you have a short list of employers you are interested in, search their websites to find Loyola alumni or alumni from your undergraduate institution who work there. Talk to current students who have worked there. Talk to your professors and/or your career counselor about the employers who you have identified and see if they know of anyone who works there.

3) Follow up on every lead you are given. Once you’ve identified a contact at an employer you are interested in, send them a short email, saying something like: “When Professor So-and-so learned of my interest in tax law, he suggested that I contact you. I am a 1L at Loyola and am hoping to practice in a firm like yours after graduation. If you could spare 15 minutes for a meeting in your office or a phone call, I would really appreciate your advice on the best type of experience to get during law school to be marketable in the field of tax law. Please let me know a convenient time to contact you, or I will follow up by phone next week.”

Then prepare a list of questions to ask, follow up on your email with a phone call, and start talking to lawyers who do what you want to do. These conversations will not only help you learn about the area or areas of law you are interested in, they will put you in contact with people who may need to hire a law student in the near future.

Don’t put the person you are networking with on the spot by asking for a job. Let the person you are talking to bring it up. If he or she hires law students, it will logically come up in your conversation if he or she is impressed by you. Also feel free to ask if the contact knows of other lawyers who they admire in that practice area and then contact them.

Need more ideas/tips/advice? Make an appointment with your counselor by emailing us at law-career@luc.edu.

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