Job-hunting legal professionals urged to know their story and brand

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Knowing their personal story and brand could spell the difference for professionals looking to start or revitalise a legal career this year.

“The key to this is for candidates to make themselves unique. Within the legal industry, qualifications and relevant experience are key, but what will make one candidate standout from the other is their individualism,” said Darren Buchanan, Hays Legal managing director. “If they know their story and can sell it they will better their chances of securing the role.”

Apart from better convincing legal firms that they are the right fit based on their unique selling points, professionals should also be aware of the brand they have, especially in today’s societies where the internet is ubiquitous.

“Employers check social media sites to get an insight into the type of person a candidate is. As well as most other organisations, legal firms are conscious of the types of people representing them,” Buchanan told Australasian Lawyer.  “If they were to employ someone who posted something inappropriate on social media, as well as the individual, the organisation would also fall under huge scrutiny. It is crucial that candidates looking for roles in legal firms are aware of how they present themselves on social media as it could be a deal-breaker.”

Apart from maintaining a professional presence on the internet, it’s also vital that CVs and online profiles be regularly serviced, lest red flags are raised when potential employers see two differing versions when they do their background checks. Regular updating also means candidates are ready to apply any time. Buchanan said, however, that candidates can go a step further.

“For certain roles, candidates should further tailor their CV to flesh out the particular experience and skills the employer is looking for,” he said, noting that these should be backed up by proof.

“Although it is important for candidates to include all their skills and achievements on their CV, it is equally as important to be able to provide examples of how goals were met and skills were demonstrated,” he said. “In the legal industry, candidates should provide details of the types of matters they have been involved in and what their role in the matter entailed. Firms are keen to see the specifics a candidate has been responsible for, such as the size of a commercial contract negotiated or the claim of a litigation that was successfully settled. Candidates should also include how large the file load is that they are currently working on, and they must avoid being too generic.”

It goes without saying, nonetheless, that candidates should be honest. If their skills do not match a position, candidates should be open to upgrading their skills, Buchanan said. He also noted that it may be wise in some instances to consider temporary roles.

“Temporary roles tend to be at the paralegal level, and occasionally there are positons for temporary lawyers, predominantly within the public sector. For lawyers at the mid-senior level there are more short- to long-term contracts across all sectors within legal, including private practice, government and in-house,” Buchanan said.
 

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