How To Become Job Search Ready

June 21, 2024

by:

Albert Tawil, Founder & CEO of Lateral Hub

Many of the lawyers I know started looking for a job when they least expected it.  An opportunity came up that they couldn’t pass up.  Something happened at work that made them realize they want out.  They got staffed with a toxic client or partner on very large matters and had no success getting off it.  They were unexpectedly terminated due to layoffs or performance (or a layoff that the firm blamed on performance).  A few partners in their group lateraled to another firm, and now their practice group is basically dissolving.  The list goes on…
There are many reasons why someone would want to look for a new job, even when they don’t expect it.  If you are a junior or mid-level associate thinking about lateraling to another firm or going in-house at some point, you want to make sure you are Job Search Ready.  It’s easy to kick the can down the road on this when it’s not urgent, but if you take steps now to become ready, you will be very thankful later when it’s time to apply to a job.
This way, when a great opportunity comes up, you’re not playing catch up.  There is nothing worse than doing things under pressure – you want to apply to the job, but you have to write your resume right away, so you do it after work at 11:30pm, but the formatting is all messed up and you don’t have time to think about some of the specific things you’ve did at work to stand out.  Even worse if you have to write a cover letter on the spot.  If you have to put together a deal sheet and remember all of the deals you worked on over the last few years, Godspeed to you.  If you are a specialist that was consistently on 6-10 deals at once, asked to complete a deal sheet, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Not only is playing catch up an annoying, stressful task.  It also puts you at a disadvantage.  For job openings that are in high demand, timing matters.  There are some Corporate openings that have come up earlier in 2024 on Lateral Hub, where the firm told us they received over 250 submissions in total.  After those first few days of applications, it’s hard for the firm to consider any more candidates – speed matters if you’re interested in a job opening.
You can avoid all of this by being Job Search Ready.   How do you get Job Search Ready?  Here are some easy tips.
  • Keep your resume up to date.  Have a running document in a Word file on your computer or a Google Doc.  Set a reminder every 6 months in your calendar to review it and edit accordingly.  If you had a new responsibility that is worth calling out (for example, running multiple deals or being the lead associate on a client), add it as a bullet in your resume.  It will take you fewer than 10 minutes every 6 months.  Don’t let your resume get stale.  You will not want to be writing it from scratch when it’s time to apply for a job.  And if you are pressed for time, it is going to be a lot harder to have someone (such as law school alumni advisor or internal law firm career advisor) to review it.  (Quick tip: make sure your experience is the first section on your resume, with your education below.  You are not in law school anymore, and your experience should be the highlight.)
  • Similar to the previous point, keep a template cover letter up to date.  This will be even harder to draft in the future when you are trying to submit ASAP.  Every 6 months, look at it and update it accordingly.  Same as above, if you have a new responsibility at work, developed a new expertise in an area, got more deals or cases under your belt, call that out in your template cover letter accordingly.  Of course, you will need to customize this for each application, but having a template ready will go a long way.
  • Have a running Google Doc with your deal sheet.  Every time you work on a deal, just pop open the Google Doc and add it to the list – you can even do it from your phone in about 30 seconds.  It will be MUCH harder to remember later.  Later on, when it is time to apply for a job, and you are piecing together all of the deals you did over the past few years, Godspeed to you.  And if you are on a specialist that worked on 6-12 deals at any given time for a few years, my thoughts and prayers are with you.  Avoid all of that by keeping a running list.
  • Have a copy of your law school transcript saved in Google Drive.  Many firms require a law school transcript even for lateral applications.  Trying to log in to your law school portal, forgetting your password, resetting your password, but it turns out it’s the wrong portal, so you try a different one, and your transcript says it takes 3 business days to process and you’re not sure why…. doing this when you are trying to apply for a job quickly is a special kind of hell.  Get it over with now and have a transcript ready.  Bonus points if you are an IP attorney: many IP firms ask for graduate transcript (if applicable) AND undergraduate transcript, given the emphasis on the science education – have these ready, they will be impossible to find.
  • If you are a litigator, have a writing sample ready.  This is tricky, because you may need permission for certain writing samples, or need to spend time redacting confidential information.  Do that now, so it’s ready to go.  Same as above, set a reminder for every 6 months to assess your writing sample – is it the best sample of your writing that you have?  You may have worked on another brief since then that is a better showcase of your writing.  Get it ready.
As I mention above, it is so easy to punt on this when it doesn’t seem pressing.  But an opportunity or need to search for a new job may come up, and it’s not easy to get this all together in a short period of time.  You will be very happy you did it.

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