Attorney Job Search: Four People You Should Never Use As References

Resume_ReferencesAs you rev up your job search, you should also line up a variety of very good references to give employers. But before you put your cousin Bobby on the list, you should consider the types of references you should never use.  Let’s take a look:

Family Members

Even if you worked for the family business for years, an employer simply won’t believe that your family can give an impartial reference. If you’ve been involved in a family business and want to use it as a reference, simply talk about it in your interview and chose another employer as a reference in the pre-interview stage of your job search.


Once again, while your friends may know you quite well, it’s likely that they can’t give a good job reference because they haven’t worked with you. If they have worked with you and you want to use them as a reference, remind them that they should focus on discussing your qualities as an employee only NOT your qualities as a friend.

Disconnected Co-workers

When choosing references, one of the easiest mistakes you can make is choosing people who have worked at the same company as you but did not directly work with you. Instead of choosing random workplace acquaintances as your references, choose people who can speak about a specific project you worked on or who can at least talk about your work ethic.

Distant Supervisors

Don’t choose supervisors who won’t remember you and who will be surprised to receive a call. Before using someone as a job reference get their permission and give them gentle reminders throughout your job search that they may receive calls from employers.

Who you put on your reference list is critical if you want to be considered for a job.

Recruiter Corner: Positioning Your Brand

Build-Your-Brand-580x328For legal recruiters trying to win major market share, positioning is critical to success. Below are four tips for positioning your company well in the minds of law firms and attorneys.

  1. Articulate your value. If you want to position your recruitment firm well, you’ll need to articulate how you solve the problems of both employers and job candidates. Don’t make the mistake of only focusing your message towards employers. The best job candidates will be quite picky about which jobs they give their attention, so you’ll need to let them know that you’re worth their time.
  2. Tailor your message. Don’t try to create an overall message that targets everyone. Instead, create multiple messages that communicate your value to specific markets. For example, job candidate goals are very different from the goals of employers, so you’ll need to take that into account when crafting your sales message.
  3. Deliver proof. It’s not enough to say that you’re the best recruiter in the industry and that you deliver quality candidates fast, you’ll need to provide proof. As part of your positioning strategy, you should create narratives that show how you helped real employers source good talent. Or, in the case of job candidates, how you helped a job seeker land a great position with a prestigious law firm. These stories need not be longwinded, they just need to provide some facts and context.
  4. Create a short pitch. When networking, you may not be able to give an in-depth spiel on your recruitment business but you can provide a succinct elevator pitch. Create a 20 second (30 seconds max) elevator pitch that highlights how you help match law firms with great talent. Be sure to emphasize what’s unique about how you approach recruiting.

If you want to become a top recruiter, you’ll need to get focused on positioning your brand well.

Four Tips For Working At A New Law Firm

Law_frim1So you’ve found a great position at an exciting new law firm. But there’s a problem—they’re very new, as in two or three years old. How do you protect yourself and thrive at a law firm that’s so young? Below are a few tips:

  1. Mind your money. Some attorneys, especially new attorneys, get so excited about working for a new law firm that they’re willing to work for much less  than what their peers are earning. Be careful. Taking a lower salary that isn’t balanced by other compensation such as health benefits and perks, can have a significant impact on your quality of life.
  2. Have an exit plan. While many new law firms are filled with enthusiastic attorneys, they’re still very risky. Before you take the job, make sure you know what you’re going to do if the business goes south. Remember, most businesses fail within the first five years, so be prepared.
  3. Discuss career advancement upfront. While most new law firms are unable to match the pay of their more established competitors, they often offer new attorneys opportunities for rapid advancement. During your interview, state your career goals clearly and find out how the firm can help you reach them. Don’t accept vague answers here, now is the time for specifics.
  4. Watch the business end. Even if the law firm’s partners are experienced and skilled attorneys, having a good head for business is a requirement for success. Keep an eye on the finances of the business. If the law firm is unable to pay you on time or if they begin cutting back expenses, that may be a sign that they’re in financial trouble.

Working at a new law firm can be an exciting opportunity, but you’ll need to determine if the firm is a diamond in the rough or just a lump of coal.

Recruiter Corner: Four Questions You Should Ask Hiring Managers

icon-41335_640-300x300In order to source the right candidates for any job order, legal recruiters must know the details. Unfortunately, many hiring managers may not provide these details upfront, so you’ll need to ask the right questions. Below are four questions you should ask hiring managers:

  1. What does a new hire need to do to fulfill the basic requirements of the job? With this question, you’re getting to the bare bones necessities. In essence, you want to know the minimum requirements of the job. Does the candidate really need some of the requirements listed on the employer’s “must have” list? Or, are some of those “must haves” really preferences?
  2. What would a new hire need to do to be considered excellent at their job? This question will let you know what the employer considers an ideal employee. If you can find someone who matches these requirements, you can probably fill the job order very quickly.
  3. What three personality traits do you want in a job candidate? One of the most frustrating parts of recruiting is that you can find candidates who have the right skills and experience but if they’re a bad fit for the law firm, they’re not getting hired. Head off this problem by finding out in advance what character traits the employer is looking for.
  4. What makes this a great job? Question the hiring manager about how the job and employer stands out. Do they offer opportunities other law firms don’t? Do they have mentorship programs with very accomplished attorneys? This is information that will help you entice the best talent to interview for the position.

By asking the hiring manager the right questions, you’ll get the information you need to fill the job order quickly.

Attorney Job Search: Three Differences Between A Job and A Career

career_planningFor new and mid-career attorneys, getting and staying on the right career track is important. But when you’ve been on a job search for too long, you may get sidetracked. One of the ways many attorneys get sidetracked is by taking positions that won’t advance their careers—they take “jobs.” Let’s explore some of the key differences between a job and a career.


One of the biggest differences between a job and a career is that the latter offers you advancement opportunities. When considering positions, you should determine if there is opportunity for advancement in the direction you want to go. Remember all opportunities aren’t good opportunities, only those that help you reach your goals.


Jobs may offer some financial growth such as yearly raises, but they may not offer more knowledge, skills, and experience. Positions that are in fact careers will have plenty of growth opportunity—trainings, new experiences, mentorship etc.  When vetting an employment opportunity, ask yourself if the position will teach you new things or give you access to new experiences.


Employment opportunities that are more than just mere jobs will make you responsible for tasks that impact the firm. For example, an attorney who is asked to actively work with an important client will have more impact on the bottom-line of the law firm than an attorney who is only asked to do the grunt work. When considering an employment opportunity, find out what level of responsibility you will have and how important it is to the law firm.

Recruiter Corner: Aligning Yourself With Future Stars

24717674Every legal recruiter wants to land a big contract, sourcing talent for the most successful law firms in the industry. But the competition is fierce. What if you could position yourself now for the big contracts in the next three to five years? You can do just that by identifying and building relationships with rising stars in the legal industry. Below are a few tips on how to get started:

  1. Create a client profile.  Think about what you want most in a client. Do you prefer working in certain practice areas or specialties? Where should the client be located? Do you mind working for out of town law firms or internationally?
  2. Gather intelligence.  Find out which firms, fitting your profile, have opened in the past five years.  If you can, find out how financially successful they’ve been. Are they adding new talent? Have they opened a satellite office?
  3. Network. At this point you should do two things—1) reach out to the person who does the hiring and 2) network at events where new law firms are likely in attendance.  Your initial contact should focus on letting the firm know about your business and getting permission to put them on your mailing list.
  4. Pricing.  If you decide to market your recruiting services to some of these rising stars, be sure to price your fees right. Don’t be shy about offering special deals with the aim of keeping them for the long-term.

As you build relationships with new and rising law firms, you’re laying the foundation for bigger and better recruiting contracts in the future.

Four Annoying Resume Buzzwords That Could Turn Off Recruiters

Wordle_-_CV_buzzwords-20110718-171955Resumes are filled with buzzwords because they’re short, easy, and seemingly direct ways to express an idea. But some buzzwords provide more hot air than anything worthwhile, and it’s those buzzwords you should avoid. Below are four annoying resume buzzwords that could turn off recruiters and hiring managers:

  1. Team-Player. Everyone wants to be known as the person who plays well with others, but simply saying so isn’t enough proof. Instead of saying that you’re a team-player, show that you’re one. Talk about how you worked well on a team to solve an employer’s problem or win a case.
  2. Results-Driven. Every hiring manager is looking for employees interested in producing results. But you’ll need to actually list what type of results you produced if you want to convince anyone that you’re a results-driven employee.
  3. Outside of the box thinking. This phrase has been used so much that it’s beginning to mean the exact opposite of what it aims to imply. If you really want to convince a legal recruiter or hiring manager that you have “outside the box” thinking, give examples of how your unique take on things added value to an employer, and avoid using cliché buzzwords in your resume.
  4. Best of breed. If you’re using this buzzword or anything similar, stop now. This is one of those phrases that means nothing while simultaneously making the person using it appear extremely arrogant. Instead of stating that you’re the best of breed, prove it by giving examples of how you delivered excellent results.

While buzzwords are sometimes effective, proof is always more effective, and can be as direct. Stick with hard facts and your resume will have more attraction than any buzzword could bring!

Recruiter Corner: Getting Your Candidate To Accept A Job Offer

Helping-a-candidate-decide-to-accept-a-job-offer-can-be-a-difficult-task_1667_40012399_0_14039490_500You’ve gone through the hard process of recruiting for a difficult to fill job and you’ve finally received the green light from the hiring manager. How do you increase the likelihood that your job candidate accepts the offer?

  1. Stay in touch. Even if it’s taking the hiring manager a long time to get back to you, stay in touch with the job candidate. Don’t let weeks (and certainly not months) pass without checking in the job candidate. Let them know where you are in the decision making process and give them an idea of when you expect to get an answer.
  2. Move quickly. Once you get an offer from the hiring manager, don’t delay. At this stage in the game, hours can mean the difference between getting a candidate to accept an offer or having them reject it because they took another job.  As soon as you get the job offer, call the candidate right away.
  3. Be an open book. If you want to get the candidate to accept an offer, you’ll need to bring all the information. How much is salary? What benefits are included in the compensation package?  Make sure that you answer all of the questions the candidate had when they first applied for the job. And if you don’t have the information they’re looking for, quickly get it and get back to the candidate.
  4. Think ahead. If the employer is making a low-ball job offer that you know the candidate won’t accept, let them know. Presenting an offer that’s too low could scare the candidate off. On the other hand, if there are other factors that compensate for a low salary, detail those perks with the job candidate.

Getting a job candidate to accept a job offer isn’t just about dollars and cents, it’s also about timing and providing the information they need to make the right decision.

How To Work With Your Recruiter—The Right Way

Finding_recruiterIf you’ve been at the job search for any length of time, you’ve probably engaged at least one legal recruiter to help you find work. But simply seeking out a recruiter isn’t enough, you need to know how to properly work with them so that they can help you reach your goals. Below are a few tips:

  1. Be picky. Don’t just pick any recruiter to help with your job search. Choose a legal recruiter who has a track record and connections in your practice area. In other words, don’t work with a recruiter who is a star at placing attorneys in immigration law firms when you really want a job in litigation.
  2. Give them the tools. No legal recruiter, no matter how talented and experienced, can market you to employers if they don’t have a quality (and up-to-date) resume on hand. You should give your recruiter a resume that specifically addresses the questions employers will have. So, if you’re looking for work as an in-house attorney or for large law firms, you need to give them one resume that addresses your in-house experience and another that emphasizes your large law firm experience.
  3. Communicate. If you’re sending out resumes to various law firms, let your recruiter know. You don’t want to double dip by sending a resume to law firms which have already received a resume from your recruiter. A matter of fact, when you first engage the legal recruiter, give them a list of which law firms you’ve contacted, along with the dates you sent your resume/cover letter.

If you’re working with your legal recruiter on your job search, clear communication and coordination of your efforts will go a long way to helping you reach your goals.

What’s In It For ME?

mistakes made in an interviewI have been assisting attorneys with their career transitions since 2005. Part of the process entails preparing my candidates for their interviews.

Can you guess the most common mistake I have seen during our sessions?

The failure to articulate What’s In It For Me (WIIFM). The ME I am referring to is not the candidate – they were great at demonstrating how the job would benefit them.

Where they fall short is in demonstrating how the EMPLOYER would benefit by hiring them.

It’s simple, if you neglect to establish how your services are going to advantage your customer – in this case, your potential future employer – you are going to be unsuccessful in securing the position. 

It’s not an easy task to accomplish but can be done with the right guidance and preparation.

It will set you apart from your competition.

Correspondingly, the questions you have for your potential future employer will need to reflect originality and thoughtfulness.

Unlike what they teach you in elementary school, there are such things as unwise questions in interview situations.

Refrain from asking anything that could be ascertained through a quick Google search. Avoid questions that require answers regarding salary, benefits, and vacation days. That is why most places have HR departments.

Crafting an original and thoughtful question requires time, effort and practice, but if done correctly, can leave a lasting impression.

It is also important to strike the right balance between humility and bravado.  Practice selling yourself without sounding too arrogant. Talk about yourself only in terms of what applies to the position at hand.

Failing to sell yourself properly can be misconstrued as having a lack of accomplishments whereas self-aggrandizing can be seen haughty and overconfident. The art is in finding the balance in the middle.

Interviews can cause anxiety and stress. Stress and anxiety = production of adrenaline. Adrenaline will cause you to speak from rapidly than usual, even if that is not your perception.

Slow down your heart rate, take deep breaths, and focus on one question at a time.


Pooja Krumenacker, Founder and CEO, Balanced Legal Solutions

Pooja Krumenacker, Founder and CEO, Balanced Legal Solutions

Pooja S. Krumenacker is the founder and CEO of Balanced Legal Solutions Inc. She has been in the legal career services industry since 2005.

She believes that an individual’s path to achieving his or her career goal is unique and strives to meet her candidate’s needs on their schedules. As such, in addition to offering excellent representation to her candidates in recruiting and placement services, she also teaches instructional workshops, serves on employer career panels, assists candidates in prepping for interviews, organizes unique and customized career fairs and authors a quarterly newsletter offering legal career advice.

She currently resides in Alexandria, VA with her husband and two children.