- On January 3, 2019
Happy new year! It’s time to take stock of your career. At a minimum, these five essential items should be in your toolbox (as set forth in this recent Forbes article):
- Strong base resume. The article notes it’s hard to build an effective resume at a moment’s notice. All lawyers should have a base resume ready, something they can tweak in a couple minutes if necessary (e.g., to rearrange the order and highlight one experience over another). I can’t tell you how many great candidates I have called who are interested in a fantastic job but then do not have a basic resume to send, and the window of opportunity closes for them.
- Complete LinkedIn profile. Having a polished LinkedIn profile with a good picture and a short description of skills is truly essential. Employers often use this platform to identify an initial group of candidates and/or to decide whom to bring in. Whenever I come across a candidate who does not even have a LinkedIn profile (or who has posted no picture or godawful picture), I am mystified. Your LinkedIn profile is one of the few things in your life squarely within your control!
- Your elevator pitch. No one expects lawyers to be smarmy salespeople, so you don’t need some slick pitch about yourself. But people do expect lawyers to be well-spoken advocates. Be able to explain what you do and what sets you apart in 90 seconds or less.
- Clear explanation why you’d be interested. If someone calls you about a great opportunity, you should listen to it (think of it as basic due diligence on the market and valuation of your skill set). And then you must articulate why you are open to this opportunity, so be ready to explain! Lack of enthusiasm will end the conversation early.
- Your compensation parameters. You should know ahead of time what you want to be paid. That way if you are called about an opportunity, you can immediately assess whether it makes sense. And you will likely be asked your comp expectations (under California law, they can’t ask you what you already make). It’s not the end of the world to be vague (“I’d like to be paid market”), but it is helpful to give a range, and you have base + bonus + equity to play with. That way employers know whether you are within the realm of their possibilities (and if everyone tells them their numbers are low, they often will go up).
The article adds a sixth essential item, your interview outfit, but I don’t think that makes sense for the Bay Area. Your regular business casual clothes are almost always fine. Exceptions are most law firms and very traditional companies (or managers).