Spring is a good time to jump start a job search.
You have (I hope) kept good records of the applications that you have made, the results of those applications, including interviews and any feedback that has come your way. Now is a particularly good time to look back and look forward, tidying up your documents and revising your activities.
Here are 6 tips for your spring search.
REVIEW and REVISE:
1. Your resume, cover letter & writing sample. Are your accomplishments described in useful, specific ways? It is not helpful for an employer to read “Research and writing” under a law clerk position because that is what all law clerks do. List, instead, two or three topics, making sure that you are able to talk intelligently and interestingly what you did. Do you state clearly who you are (1L, 2L, etc.), what you know about the job, and why you want it? Re-read your writing sample. Make it better.
2. Your networking contact list. Contact someone from that list, and ask meaningful specific questions. Make at least one contact per week. At the end of the year, you will know 52 new lawyers or other professionals.
3. Your vision of the job that you want to have. If it looks fuzzy, talk to someone who is working in a field that interests you. Ask meaningful specific questions about what the person is doing. If, after talking to three people who have the job that you think you want, and you think that you would rather be boiled in oil, change directions.
4. Your list of meaningful, specific questions. If you are having trouble creating a list of meaningful specific questions, think carefully about how a work day might work out? Who might you talk to during the day? How would you get work assignments? How would your work evaluated? What are relationships like between and among co-workers? Who will supervise me? Who will I have to supervise? What does success look like? What does it take to fail at this job? (My personal favorite.) Have your career services professionals or other valued and respected contacts review your questions to make sure that they are smart and not self-serving (“What perks do you have?”)
5. Your reading list. Are all of the substantive law and practice blogs in your RSS feed still interesting to you and still related to your career goals? Or have you changed your mind and not updated your RSS feed. A clogged RSS feed is an invitation to wild and indiscriminate deletion. What? You don’t have a reading list? If you don’t take the time to learn about the work that you say that you want to do, why would anyone want to hire you?
6. Your wardrobe. Are your shoes shined? Is your interview suit ready to wear today? Do your shirts need ironing? You should be prepared to go to an interview at any time. Employers are not constrained by spring break, exam schedules or bar study, and they post jobs and want to interview candidates right away. Be ready.