- On May 2, 2021
Fast Company listed seven skills recruiters value. I checked them out, and it turns out I am impressed if you show these seven because employers are looking for them too. They also mean you will do well on the job too!
1. Emotional Intelligence. Can you read situations and approach them sensitively? So much of law is not just interpreting the law but presenting it in a way that will be heard and that can be executed on. (See also this recent Recorder article: “General counsels from Agilent Technologies, Square and Google discussed how giving candid and sometimes unpopular opinions early on in their in-house career led to them taking the reins of the legal department and finding themselves with more trust as business partners.”) Convey your EQ through examples of how you gave tough news to a client and came up with a solution that fulfilled their needs and complied with the law.
2. Resilience. Managers always want people who have successfully taken on challenges. Since I have been recruiting over a dozen years, I’ve been through a couple recessions and have seen how they have derailed careers. But I love how the resilient ones pick themselves up and get back on track. These candidates may have started in one field but were able to move to the one they were most interested in, e.g., by getting an LLM, picking up adjacent areas of tools, retooling to fit the need, etc., and in the end become as competitive as candidates who started their career well before or after any recession.
3. Empathy. This trait impacts employee morale, productivity, and longevity/turnover. I can tell someone’s level of empathy by how they speak to me. Are they simply transactional (e.g., I can read their thought bubble: “What can I get out of this recruiter?”), or are they trying to build a relationship with me? Do they automatically see from other perspectives and try to make things easier? A small but telling example: when I ask candidates for their availability for interviews, the best ones helpfully give me a list of times in my time zone versus giving a harder to parse list like “any time except Tuesday 12-2 pm CT.” I can tell with the former they are quick to grasp what their clients need and how they want it. Finally, do candidates treat me with respect? And if they don’t (even to someone with some influence over their career), I can guess how they treat colleagues in the workplace.
4. Adaptability. The pandemic has caused huge changes in operations, consumer behavior, and client demands. How has someone adjusted to these changes or other bumps along their career path? Their track record is telling, e.g., they have picked up new areas of law adjacent to their initial specialty or former colleagues (who know how they work) have invited them along to different companies or industries. Also, I can tell how adaptable candidates are if they can quickly implement suggestions I make to their presentation, whether in-person or on paper.
5. Initiative. Fast Company reports “[w]ith so many people now working remotely, employers are looking for people who can accomplish tasks and add value with minimal guidance and regular contact.” Candidates with initiative usually have set up processes and systems to facilitate legal/business interactions and initiatives. They also have been recognized for their performance. Additionally, I can tell if people have initiative when they research the company I tell them about or prep hard for interviews without my suggesting it.
6. Tenacity. Employers want employees who can stay the course despite any unexpected challenges (hello pandemic). One way hiring managers judge applicants is their length of tenure and reasons for their moves. I know they won’t be proceeding if they’re called a “job hopper.” In that case, the candidate could not convincingly explain why they moved where. (An aside: lawyers born in another country who come to the US, learned English, and practice law in a second language show crazy amounts of tenacity. And many have to navigate the byzantine visa process. I just read Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom, was denied a visa to the come the US EIGHT times before being accepted on his NINTH try.)
7. Relationship management. If you come referred to me by someone I trust, I know you work well with others. This is a key trait that can open or shut doors. Clients sometimes back-channel applicants by asking friends who worked at the same place as the applicant their opinion, which can help or hurt you.