Category Archives: Getting the Non-Traditional Job

Translating Legal Skills to an Alternative Career

One roadblock in obtaining that dream non-traditional legal career, is convincing a potential employer that you have the skills necessary to do the job.  You will need to articulate all the skills you have acquired from your legal training that are relevant to the job for which you are applying.  I cannot emphasize this enough – YOU MUST TELL the potential employer WHAT SKILLS YOU HAVE, a potential employer is not going to know this! 

So what skills have you acquired in law school that may be relevant to an alternative legal career?  How about being able to:

  • Analyze problems
  • Think strategically and plan ahead 
  • Identify issues and anticipate problems
  • Generate solutions
  • Synthesize large amounts of information
  • Write logically and succinctly
  • Negotiate and persuade
  • Research
  • Multitask and prioritize many tasks
  • Attend to details

Have a specific non-traditional job you would like to apply for, but don’t know what skills are relevant?  Make an appointment with a CSD counselor and we can help you with that!

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So Networking is Effective….But I Hate Networking

The last time we discussed networking, we looked at why networking is more effective than responding to job postings (click here if you missed that post).  I expect that after reading that post, many of you thought, “Okay, so networking is effective, but I can’t network / hate networking / am not going to do it” – or something to that effect, but with more expletives. 

As a former networking hater, I totally get it!  I spent many years hating networking like a kid hates shots.  But friends, I am here to tell you that you will not advance professionally if you do not embrace networking.  Let me repeat – you will not advance professionally if you do not embrace networking.

So you might as well start practicing now, while you are still in the relatively safe environment of school, rather than once you are tossed out into the coldness of the “real world.”  And I think once you have started, you will find out that networking is actually pretty easy, especially since it something that you already do on a more informal basis every day.

Networking = Building Relationships.  If you want to avoid the scenario in the above cartoon, you have to get rid of the concept that networking is about “getting something.”  People can sense when you are just talking to them to see what you can get from them.  Instead, you want to focus on building relationships – finding out about what a person does professionally, how they got there, where they see themselves going, what they enjoy doing in their free time.  Does that sound a bit like what you are already doing when you are making new friends?  It should, because it’s the exact same thing – just on a professional level!

In Wednesday’s blog we will discuss how to get over that initial awkward hurdle of starting a networking conversation!

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Why Networking is More Effective Than Responding to Postings

I think we can all agree that responding to job postings is a pretty easy and safe way to find open positions and apply for them.  But how many job postings have you applied to and had absolutely no response?  Tens?  Hundreds?  Maybe even thousands, depending on how long you have been job hunting.

While responding to job postings definitely has a place in your alternative career search, it should just be one component, not the sole focus.  The reality is that the majority of jobs (a rough statistic is 80% of jobs) are found through personal contacts!

Why do the vast majority of jobs come through personal contacts?  Two main reasons are (1) ease and (2) known quality.  While it is easy for an employer to post a listing for a position, it is time consuming (and therefore costs big $$$) to spend countless hours poring over STACKS of resumes.  Further, a hiring manager tends to feel like a candidate recommended by a trusted employee – or better yet, who the hiring manager actually knows – is a known “quality” person.  Therefore, given the choice between two people with similar backgrounds and experience, one of whom the hiring manager has met for thirty minutes in a formal interview and one of whom the hiring manager interacts with regularly on a volunteer committee (for example), the known person will almost always get the job.  

While networking is not a quick-fix job search solution, it is effective and can often lead to higher quality job positions.  Even if you are not searching for a job right now, one day in the future you probably will be.  So start networking today!

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