Prior to beginning your job search, assess your strengths; current career objectives and goals; practice areas of interest; and geographic preference. This self-assessment process will help you focus your job search.
Build Your Network.
Networking is the most effective way to secure employment in the legal field. Determine who is presently in your network (co-workers, former employers, law school alumni, casual contacts) and who you would like to add to your network. Expand your circle of acquaintance by joining the bar association in the city and state where you plan to practice; joining professional associations; attending events hosted by these associations; attending seminars and CLE classes; volunteering in your community; and performing pro bono work. When you identify a new contact, schedule an informational interview with him or her.
Research Potential Employers.
After locating a position for which you wish to apply, research the employer prior to submitting your resume. At the very least, visit the employer Web site; google the employer; perform an advanced search at martindale.com; reference the state’s legal directory; and search the employer’s name on Lexis and Westlaw. When researching an employer, give careful attention to the mission statement, services offered, and client base. In addition to deepening your understanding of the employer’s practice, your research will enable you to customize your resume and cover letter to the employer’s needs, environment, and culture.
Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter.
Tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific employer you have targeted and the position for which you are applying. Use the information gained from your self-assessment and employer research to personalize both your resume and cover letter. Think carefully through your cover letter strategy, ensuring that you address the employer’s concerns and needs rather than your expectations of the employer.
Stay Organized. Follow-Up. Send Thank You Notes.
Keep a calendar dedicated to your job search. Set the goal of establishing a certain number of contacts and submitting a certain number of resumes each week. If you are not contacted by an employer within two weeks of sending your resume, follow-up with the employer. When you attend a formal or informational interview, send a handwritten thank-you note immediately afterward. Stay connected with your circle of acquaintance through frequent communication. Communication is the key to initiating and maintaining professional relationships.
Identify Job Search Resources.
The Career Planning Center staff is pleased to assist you in your job search; simply schedule an advising session with one of our career advisors. In addition, be certain to monitor Strategy regularly for relevant job postings, sign out a book from our resource library, and visit our Web site to explore additional resources.
Sample Web Resources
Chicago Law Bulletin (http://jobs.lawbulletin.com)
Search legal jobs in the Chicago land area by practice area
Searchable by specific job type, geographic area, and practice area
Hieros Gamos Employment Center (www.hg.org/employment.html)
Search legal jobs and legal recruiting firms by geographic region
Search by state and category (academic, administrative, attorney, in house/corporate attorney, JD preferred positions)
Legal Job Search (www.lawyerintl.com/legal-jobs.php)
Contains links to 100 law-related job sites
Legal Career Network (www.legalstaff.com)
Search for open legal positions
Careers in Government (www.careersingovernment.com)
Public-sector job opportunities in organizations in the United States and abroad
Federal Employment (http://www.federaljobs.net/overview.htm)
Federal government job postings (legal and non-legal), salary information, and links to government agencies
Department of Justice Career Opportunities (http://www.justice.gov)
USA Jobs (www.usajobs.gov)
Search federal job openings (legal and non-legal)
Comprehensive listing of public-interest legal jobs, volunteer positions, and fellowships. Search by type and region.
National Legal Aid & Defender Association (www.nlada.org/jobs)
Job opportunities in legal aid organizations and defender organizations