For job seekers, the cover letter is the first thing presented to a hiring manager. If you want to improve your chance of getting called for an interview, you’ll need to avoid some of the most common and damaging cover letter mistakes. Let’s take a closer look at four of the most common cover letter mistakes.
- Boilerplate cover letters. The number one mistake job seekers make with cover letters is sending out generic templates. Yes, it’s time-consuming to customize a cover letter, but it’s necessary if you want any chance of standing out from other job seekers.
- Being too general. Hiring managers read hundreds of cover letters. After a while they start to all sound the same. If you want to stand out, you’ll need to get specific about how you’re a good choice for the job. Stay away from generalizations and make sure you address the issues mentioned in the job ad.
- No one wants to hear your entire life story. You’re cover letter should be brief, limited to one page, and use concise language. Try not to create walls of text. Use bullet points and short paragraphs if you want to avoid tiring the hiring manager with too much text.
- Summarizing your resume. Your cover letter is not a summary of your resume. In fact, it is a sales tool that should expand on your most important attributes and highlight experience/expertise that simply can’t be conveyed in a resume.
Cover letters are the key to getting noticed by a hiring manager. Don’t ruin your chance to shine by making costly and avoidable mistakes.
When it comes to recruiting, most people don’t think of the dating scene. But the truth is that just like online dating, recruiting can feel a bit overwhelming and frustrating. Below are four ways recruiting is like online dating and a few tips on how you can meet the perfect match.
- Deluge of candidates. No matter where you go online, just posting a dating profile will open the floodgates of suitors. As a recruiter, posting a decent job will net the same tsunami of job candidates—some of them great, others not even minimally suitable.
- Strict requirements critical. If you want to avoid being completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of candidates, you’ll need to create strict pre-screening requirements. This means that you need to know what you want and not be afraid to toss resumes that don’t meet your standards.
- People lie. If you’ve ever been on a blind date then you know that many people are less than honest in their dating profiles. It’s the same in recruiting. Candidates exaggerate, leave out critical facts, and even outright lie hoping that they can at least get through the door. You’ll need to be on the lookout for red flags that something isn’t quite true.
- Vetting goes both ways. If you want to attract the right kind of candidates, you’ll need to remember that just like in dating, everyone is being examined. To make sure you meet the standards of the best talent out there, keep your website and social media professional and up-to-date with the type of information candidates want to know.
Just like in the dating world you’ll need to approach your recruiting efforts as a number game and be prepared to kiss a few frogs before finding your prince/princess.
For many attorneys, working abroad seems like an exciting and interesting way to expand their career and personal horizons. But what special characteristics do you need to successfully work abroad?
- Cultural competency. Working abroad requires that you understand at least the basic value system of the host country to which you want to move. In many cases, different cultures will have radically different ways of doing business, and understanding that can mean the difference between sealing a deal or losing a client.
- Mental flexibility. Immersing yourself in the business world of another country requires that you have the ability to adapt to change. Mental flexibility allows you to respond fluidly and without too much frustration when cultural misunderstandings inevitably happen.
- Language skills. No matter what anyone tells you, if you want to successfully work abroad you need to have conversational fluency of the country’s primary language. Attaining conversational fluency in the host country’s language will allow you to develop deep relationships with client and let them know that you respect them.
- Humility. Everyone believes on some level that their culture’s way of doing things is the right way. But the truth is that there is no one right way. Many different cultures can do things differently but still successfully compete in their nation’s marketplace. As an outsider, you’ll need to be humble enough to accept that your way isn’t the only way business should be done.
If you want to successfully work abroad, you’ll need to cultivate winning characteristics.
First impressions count, especially in business where the first few encounters often set the tone for the rest of the relationship. That’s why it’s important that recruiters learn to make the best first impression with clients. Below are a few tips on doing just that:
- Mind your image. Take care to project the type of image you want others to have of you. Your website, clothing, business card, mannerisms, and language should all work together to present the professional and put together image that will help you seal the deal.
- Avoid distractions. Whether you’re talking to a client on the phone or meeting them in person, don’t allow distractions such as email or calls to pull your attention. Giving clients your undivided focus lets them know that you care and helps you listen carefully so that you can better serve their needs.
- Be knowledgeable. Nothing makes a great impression like a recruiter who not only understands the legal industry but also understands the unique needs of their clients. By impressing upon your clients that you have expertise in the field, you build trust that can later be leveraged when helping them make difficult hiring decisions.
- Be genuine. Anyone can put on a fake smile and forced concern but being genuine must come from the heart. Clients recognize and appreciate genuine recruiters who have a real concern for helping them reach their hiring goals. And it’s easy to be genuine when your top priority is helping clients attain their goals.
Ultimately, one of the keys to winning and keeping clients is to make a great first impression.
Every job seeker faces the dilemma of determining how much they should ask for in compensation while ensuring they get a good deal. But to do that, you must have a clear idea of your true worth on the current job market. Below are a few tips on how to figure out your job market worth:
- Industry compensation. The first step to determining your job market worth is researching the current going rate for the position you’re applying for. Try to look at a wide range compensation standards from a variety of firms—what is each level of attorney experience demanding in terms of salary?
- Compare yourself to the herd. How are you similar (or different) from the majority of candidates applying for the position. If you have some distinguishing quality that sets you apart and that’s desired by hiring managers, you may be able to demand slightly more than the standard salary offered.
- Consider location. When looking at fair compensation, you must factor in the cost of living in your location. What salary would allow you to have a comfortable lifestyle? Remember, the cost of living in a small or mid-size city is dramatically different than someplace like New York. So when you’re determining your job market worth, factor in a cost of living adjustment.
- Flexibility. Hiring managers are willing to pay for flexibility, especially if they’re recruiting for a particularly complex or challenging position. For example, if you’re willing to travel or work longer hours, you may be able to demand more compensation for that flexibility.
No matter what level of compensation you desire, you must always keep an eye on what the market will bear.
Long-term client relationships begin with delivering good work, but that only happens with effective collaboration. Below are a few tips on how you can improve your collaboration with clients.
- Listen to their wants. Most recruiters are really good at identifying client needs, but it’s also important to listen to what they want. Many times a client’s desires are an indication of their goals and aspirations. Try to align your services to their vision.
- Broaden your scope. Take steps to broaden your involvement with your client. If you’re just filling job orders today, consider offering them a broader range of services such as helping them anticipate what their staffing needs may be a year from now as their firm grows.
- Have an open door. If you want to better collaborate with clients, you’ll need to invite them to participate in the recruiting process in beneficial ways. And be open to feedback and suggestions. A collaborative recruiting process requires that you remain receptive to the ideas of others.
- Include multiple stakeholders. While you’ll mostly collaborate with the hiring manager, consider getting input from other stakeholders such as the staff who will work directly with the new hire. This wider range of inclusion can create a dynamic process than will benefit you when sourcing talent.
While many recruiters enjoy finding talent on their own, working in a collaborative process with clients can help build relationships and make recruiting a lot more effective.
Relocating for work is a big, scary step. But there are a few things you can do that may make your move successful. Let’s take a look at a few:
- Get organized. Moving can be a logistical nightmare, but moving and starting a new job can quickly spiral out of control if you’re not organized. Before the move take care of as many details as you can BEFORE you start the move—registering your kids for school, finding a place to live, you may even consider preordering premade meal that can be delivered to your door in the weeks following your arrival in the new city. Do all you can do early to make your life easier.
- Get help. Even if your new employer has stated that they don’t offer relocation assistance, try to negotiate to get some help. Maybe they’re willing to have someone help you with logistics such as finding an apartment, getting utilities turned on, or meeting the movers. Anything can help.
- Scout out your new location. Before you actually move to your new city, take a vacation there. Visit the various neighborhoods, attend some events, and get the lay of the land before you move. Knowing little things like where the grocery store is can go a long way in reducing the stress of the move.
- Prepare for cost of living changes. Every city is different when it comes to cost of living. You want to know in advance if the location where your job is located will cost significantly more. If so, your salary needs to reflect that difference.
- Rent before you buy. You can never know a city without actually living there first. Knowing that, you should rent in the neighborhood you want to live before making a long-term commitment of buying home.
You can successfully relocate for a job, you just need to be prepared to make necessary adjustments.
The recruiting field is a crowded space, making the competition for fees fierce. To get an edge, some legal recruiters choose to discount their fees, but this may be a mistake. Below are four reasons you shouldn’t discount your fees.
- You can’t afford it. If you’ve crunched your numbers, you should have a base fee that you can charge and still make a profit. In most cases, discounting your fees will put you under that base amount and cause you to lose so much money that in the long-term you come out on the losing end.
- You degrade the perception of your service. Discounting your fees can cause clients to view you as part of the discount bin not one of the quality service providers. This negative perception could create a situation where people only approach you for work when they need a price break.
- You’re wasting your time. While you’re working for a discounted fee, you’re missing the opportunity to take on more lucrative job orders. Remember, since your time and energy is limited, there’s an opportunity cost for each job order you take on.
- You can’t deliver your best work. Recruiting takes time. And since time is money, you may come to a point where you’ll need to deliver an inferior service just to ensure that you’re being paid for your time.
In general, discounting your fees is bad for business. The only exception may be when discounting fees is a way to get access to a client who you can then up sell more expensive services.
Working for a startup law firm has both challenges and rewards. But if you’re an attorney considering a new job at a startup law firm, there are a few things you should know.
- Most new law firms fail. Just like any business, new law firms have a greater chance of not lasting for longer than a few years. Will the law firm you’re considering be the exception to the rule? You need to carefully consider this issue before accepting an offer.
- Compensation disparity. Most startup law firms can’t afford to pay what their bigger and more established competitors can. What non-monetary compensation will you receive to make up from this difference?
- Founding partners matter. The success or failure of a new law firm is largely dependent on the founding partners. And it’s not just their legal expertise that matters—founders with solid business sense are critical to the success of a new law firm.
- New law firms demand overtime. It’s generally a rule that every startup requires a lot of long hours from all employees. Before joining a new law firm, take a serious and honest look at your work/life balance needs to determine if they’re in line with the demands of a startup law firm.
- Culture is a top priority. Since most new law firms are very small, it’s critical that you fit perfectly into the culture. This means that you should share many of the same values and work habits of the partners and other attorneys at the firm. If you don’t, those differences could cause a big rift.
As long as you carefully measure the pros and cons of startup culture and reality, taking a job at a new law firm could be quite rewarding.
Getting the right candidate is a tall order, especially when there’s a big incentive for candidates to embellish their credentials. So how does a legal recruiter spot a lie on a resume? Below are a few tips:
- Strange titles. Candidates attempting to inflate the level of their experience will sometimes include vague or even strange job titles instead of their real title. That’s usually a sign that they’re trying to deceive you. The best way to get to the truth is to call their former employer and confirm their job title and description.
- No details. Many candidates applying for jobs that they’re not qualified for will often make vague and grandiose statements with very little detail to back them up. That’s a red flag that they’re embellishing the truth. As a recruiter, you can get to the truth by asking for the who, what, when, and where.
- Unfamiliar school. While it’s risky, there are still many people who lie about their education. If a job candidate lists a school that can’t be easily found through an online search, it’s a red flag that they’re probably lying about their education. Just to be sure, don’t forget to confirm that a candidate attended the school they claim they attended.
In the end, the best way to spot a lie on a resume is to trust your gut and fact check.