Imposter syndrome can affect us all but it can be particularly difficult to deal with as a law student at the outset of your legal career. It is important to remind yourself that the basis of the recruitment process is getting to know students for who they are. Remember that recruiters are not looking for perfection; they look for hard-workers, team players, and individuals who are willing to learn.
So what does it mean to be yourself in the recruitment process? It means being genuine, sincere and confident in your abilities. That comes down to many seemingly small choices you make along the application process. Here are a few ways to ‘be yourself’ in your application and during an interview:
- Resist the urge to use complicated and wordy legalese in your written application. This is distracting and can come off to employers as unnecessarily formal and insincere.
- Make sure you feel like yourself during an interview. Wear your favorite suit or brush your hair the way you like. Whatever you typically do to make yourself feel comfortable, polished and like the best version of yourself, do it. Feeling comfortable and put-together during an interview will prevent you from being distracted or nervous and will help you come across as relaxed and confident.
- Include meaningful experiences in your application. Describe your experiences from your perspective. What have your experiences taught you? What skills did you acquire from these experiences? What have your experiences taught you about yourself? Give meaningful thought to these questions before an interview and while drafting your cover letter.
Recruiters only have so much time to dedicate toward reviewing your application and interviewing you. This means that you must be strategic and intentional with what you say and how you say it. Make sure everything in your cover letter is both necessary and relevant to the job you are applying for. Don’t force recruiters to have to sift through your application to find important information.
Further, be strategic on what aspects of your experiences you highlight. For example, if you don’t have experience in the firm’s specific area of practice, but you have experience in another area, highlight the transferrable skills that you acquired from your experience.
Finally, make sure to take a holistic approach to your application. Take a moment and try to look at your application from a bird’s eye view. Is your application balanced? Is it too academically-oriented? Does it focus too much on one area or skill such as drafting or research? Try to make sure that your experiences are coming across as well-rounded and diverse.
You’ve heard this one before. It goes without saying; research the firm. Think about the questions that will be asked of you. Give meaningful thought to their answers. Research the firm’s recent wins and losses to help you display your genuine interest in what the firm is up to.
Another important thing to remember: the application process is not just about you as a candidate but how you as a candidate will fit in at the firm. This means during an interview, or while reviewing your application, recruiters will be assessing the common grounds between you and the firm.
For that reason, your job as an applicant goes beyond just researching the firm.
Highlight and emphasize those common grounds – look for connections between you and the firm. Use your experiences to connect yourself to the firm’s values, principles, areas of practice or community initiatives for example. Your ability to recognize and appreciate the firm’s values and principles and reflect those back to the firm in your application will help you make a convincing pitch that you’re not only a good candidate, but a great match.
It is always helpful to reach out to members of the firm for advice on your application. This will allow you to get a sense of what the firm is like and help steer you on the right track. Reaching out shows that you are genuinely interested in the firm and provides you with the advantage of having your name floating around the firm prior to an interview. Articling students and first year associates are typically the most appropriate people to reach out to as they have a recent connection to the legal recruitment experience.
If you are a student with questions on the recruitment process and/or student programs at Mann Lawyers, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or one of our lawyers. We are always happy to help where we can.
This blog post was written by Articling Student, Sarah Antonious.