Let’s face it, the average law student hates networking. Sure there are a few social butterflies who actually enjoy socializing with real attorneys and other grownups, but they’re few and far between.
Partly I think networking gets a bad rap because it’s unclear how exactly people are supposed to help you.
Informational interviewing is great, and can help you figure out what you’re looking for, but what do you do when someone turns to you and says:
Sure, I’d love to help you out. What can I do?
You need an answer to that question.
Introducing the “Contacts Roadmap” For Legal Networking
I came across a great solution in a new book I’m reading: From Lemons to Lemonade in the New Legal Job Market: Winning Job Search Strategies for Entry-Level Attorneys (full disclosure, this is a review copy and I didn’t buy it!). I’ll have more to say about the book later (it’s very good), but this idea was so interesting I had to share it immediately.
Basically, the Contacts Roadmap is a detailed strategy-and-objectives document, which you put together to outline:
- what you’re looking for
- which employers you’re targeting
- why you’re qualified for the job you claim to want
It’s like a business plan, for your job search. And, here’s the interesting part, it’s not just for you. You give it to your contacts, so they know how to help you!
What Should You Include in Your Contacts Roadmap?
The book has a very detailed example, which I won’t retype, but here’s the basic format:
- Explanation of what the document is
- A very specific statement of your objective (SPECIFIC, not some wishy-washy pie-in-the-sky goal to work at a job you like that utiliizes your unique skills and interests)
- A detailed list of prospective employers
- Your qualifications and rationale for the specific job you’re targeting. This might include courses you’ve taken in the area, prior work experience, etc.
Why This Approach Works
The beauty of this is two-fold. Perhaps most importantly, it forces you to nail down your goals. Even if no one else ever sees your Roadmap, your résumé will be much stronger for having made it. You’ll ultimately submit your résumé far fewer places, but the ones you do decided to target will be more focused, greatly increasing your success rate. And, you’ll feel more confident, because you’ll know you have a real plan for your job search, and a specific goal to work towards.
Second, it enables people who are willing to help you, to actually help you. (Or it quickly establishes that they can’t help you, which is also useful information.) If I hand you a list of twenty companies I’d like to work for, and you know people at three of them, fantastic! Now we’re getting somewhere. If I just tell you I’m interesting in an entry-level position doing X type of law, and you’re not directly involved in that field, odds are you’re not going to make any introductions for me, despite your best intentions.
Finally, as a bonus, having a detailed plan spelled out makes you look like a serious candidate, and gives your contact ammunition to use on your behalf.
Which sounds better?
Hey, yeah, I have this friend who’s looking for a job. She just graduated from law school, I think. No, I’m not sure if she’s passed the bar. Oh, I’ll have to ask if she took any relevant courses – I’m not really sure. I think she might have had a job one summer that had something to do with this, but, yeah, I’m not sure. Do you know of anything?
Hey, I have a friend who’s looking for a job in government contracting. She’d like to work for either the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Department of Transportation, and she’s open to jobs in a few different corporations. She passed the bar in July, and I know she took several classes in this area and worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the National Association of General Contractors over the summer. Do you know of anything?
I think the answer is clear!
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a job, sending out hundreds of untargeted résumés isn’t going to work. Time to get creative, and try a different approach.
Personally, I think the Contacts Roadmap is one of the most interesting job search ideas I’ve seen recently. Try it, and report back on how it goes!
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Have questions on the Contacts Roadmap approach? Leave them in the comments!
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