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May 7, 2008

6 Job-Hunting Myths & Misconceptions to Avoid

Long resumes are impressive. Excessively long resumes are a pet peeve of hiring managers. It is estimated that 8 -15 seconds are spent reviewing any given resume received by an employer. If this is true or even close to true, whatever is on your second page is likely to never be seen. You must to find a way to edit those internships, extracurricular activities and classes into a clean, readable one-page document.


The Internet is the best place to look for jobs. The internet is a very passive way to search for positions and online listings are just a tiny fraction of the jobs out there. Networking among professional associations, professors, career counselors, and past employers has been proven time and again to be the most effective way to job search.


There's no point in applying for jobs in the summer. Or Christmas. Or until after the bar exam. People quit and get promoted year round. New clients and major cases develop at different times. When this happens, employers hire even if the time frame doesn’t fit within your schedule or fall outside a perceived recruiting season. While it can be difficult to manage a job search during a stressful period such as studying for the bar exam, do what you can to stay on top of all your obligations. Keep up your contacts. Create search agents that can alert you to new postings. Allow yourself some time away from studying to attend bar association events.


If a company isn't currently hiring, I can't get an interview. One of the most powerful and consistently underutilized job-hunting tools is the informational interview. Arrange informal interviews with people working in your practice area and/or your geographic area to learn more about the job market, get career advice and, most importantly, build a network of contacts. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that informational interviews result in an immediate job offer or that they are one time conversations. You must continue to develop these relationships over time in order for them to pay off. Even though the pay off may be later in your career, the information gathered and relationship built is well worth the time now.


 A Cover Letter is Not as Important as Other Job-Hunting Materials. Cover letters should be tailored to the position and employer to which you are applying. They should be sent along with every resume submitted unless an employer explicitly states otherwise. A cover letter is an integral part of your job-search strategy. It shouldn’t simply restate the obvious from your resume. It must tell the employer exactly what job you are seeking and how you are uniquely qualified for that position.


Entry-level salaries will be sufficient to pay back student loans. Student loans are an exception to the general lending principles that limit people to borrowing according to their earnings. The gap between how much students expect to make when they graduate vs. their likely earnings is frightening. For a detailed, realistic picture of salary information within the legal profession, see NALP’s salary graph for the Class of 2006 at http://www.nalp.org/content/index.php?pid=522.

Carla DeVelder

Notre Dame Law School

May 7, 2008 | Permalink


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