- On April 28, 2022
I spoke on IAPP’s panel Let’s Get Hired In Privacy earlier this month, moderated by Michelle Dennedy and Bryan Lee. Fellow panelists/recruiters included Jillian Jones from Meta, George Ratcliffe, Tessa Saxe, and Zachary Plotkin. We discussed what candidates can do to improve their chances of landing their ideal job. These tips apply not just to privacy candidates but all legal candidates!
- If you are starting out, how do you break in? Join relevant industry organizations, volunteer at events, and get known by industry experts so when they are in a position to hire or refer, they will think of you.
- How do recruiters and employers evaluate candidates? We look at soft and hard skills. We like candidates who show curiosity, have a strong work ethic, and communicate well (e.g., can they explain things simply to different teams and people at different levels?). Legal candidates also need to have the substantive skills in the same or similar industry of the prospective employer. For senior roles, employers will look at candidates’ track record, e.g., of rolling out programs, staffing up teams, launching products, forecasting upcoming legislation, etc. If the job is to grow out a team, the employer usually wants to see prior management and scaling experience.
- How should you explain you are right for a job? You can start with why you are interested, but be sure to explain (succinctly!) how you can do the job, e.g., that you know the legal/legislative framework, and counseled ABC teams as they try to DEF (provide a service, go into another country, respond to a breach, etc.). Do tailor your pitch to the company. A startup may be building out a completely new program while a Fortune 500 may need an expert in a narrower area, but both small and big companies may need lawyers who know how to launch products.
- How do you work with an external recruiter? Find out what companies an external recruiter works with. Understand that if you have already applied directly to a company for any job, it is unlikely an external recruiter can then submit you there (which would be a shame because hiring managers often like how experienced recruiters make their lives easier by presenting vetted candidates with key points highlighted). Also, connect the dots for the recruiter – don’t just talk about your passion for an area of law but also explain how you can do the job and (ideally) how you have solved relevant problems before in that industry. Do find out the key things the employer is hiring for and think of ways to show you can do exactly those things. If you haven’t done them before, then you have to credibly explain why you can do the job.
- How flexible are employers about job requirements? Employers do not realistically expect candidates to have done 100% of the job description and instead have a list of priorities. You should apply if you can do their top three. When employers want a unicorn (i.e., a unique/hard-to-find candidate), they may consider promising candidates who are curious, easy to work with, and come with a track record of success.