- On August 30, 2020
I’ve been recruiting lawyers for in-house jobs 10+ years. Some changes I’ve observed in recruiting:
- Employers increasingly give assessment tests as part of the interview process, e.g., a short contract or scenario for finalists to review and comment on. While the test can be painful for interviewees, it does make the hiring process fairer. Employers can compare candidates’ skills against each other fairly and without bias.
- Interview attire is almost always business casual compared to suits before. The business casual dress code hasn’t changed much. For men, it means button down shirts, pants, belt, leather shoes, and more flexibility for women. Industries that may still expect the full suit are pharma, brick and mortar banks, and law firms. With these employers, it’s best to ask your recruiter what to wear before the interview. And one final trend: at startups, jeans are ok and may even be expected (in that case, the startups often tell candidates the dress code before the interview).
- Resume requirements have changed. The maximum length is still two pages, but you no longer need to list your address on your resume. The city or metro area (“San Francisco Bay Area”, “Silicon Valley”, “Mountain View,” etc.) is sufficient. Also, current resumes aren’t broken into columns, compared to old resumes, which had a column for dates and another for the employer, resulting in huge indents. Additionally, email addresses back in the day were Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL (which was dated even then). Do not use any of those now.
- Your online presence is now extremely important. Years ago, if I didn’t have someone’s resume, I would have to research them through the Martindale-Hubbell directory, firm bio, or word of mouth. Nowadays I turn to LinkedIn to get a sense of their skills and trajectory, see who we know in common, and assess their presentation.
- Big firm training is not always an absolute requirement. There are now many more in-house opportunities available to lawyers who want to bypass the firm. Also, smaller companies care less about pedigree/big law than the applicant’s skills and track record.
What hasn’t changed? The importance of your reputation. Employers favor candidates who are well-known, well-regarded, and referred for a position. That makes sense — we rely on the judgment of people we trust. Be kind to others and do the best work you can, always.