I have heard both firms and recruiters refer to “fit” with respect to legal job descriptions. What do they mean, and how important is it?
Roger Boord, Senior Recruiter
In the contest of a description of a law firm job opportunity, 'fit' or 'fitness' means the ability of a particular candidate to meet the most basic and important requirements for the job as stated in the description.
The term “fit” has several meanings, depending on the context. In the contest of a description of a law firm job opportunity, “fit” or “fitness” means the ability of a particular candidate to meet the most basic and important requirements for the job as stated in the description. A candidate who is a “fit” for these basic requirements (such as background or the range of experience years) is said to be generally qualified for that job. Such candidates are thus more likely to obtain an interview. By contrast, a candidate who does not meet one or more of these basic criteria may not be considered to be a good “fit” by the firms, and thus are less likely to get an interview. It is thus very important to make good fitness evaluations early in the search process in order to focus on the best opportunities.
For whatever reason, I have seen a number of candidates who do not appear to make good fitness evaluations, and as a consequence seek to apply to positions for which they are clearly unqualified. It is perhaps understandable that some candidates would want to try to “fit” their credentials into the qualifications of a desired position. But by doing too much “stretching,” they lose credibility and waste valuable time applying for positions that are obviously not a good fit for them. This is why making a proper assessment of fitness at the beginning of a job search is so important. For example, one of the most important basic criteria is the specific type of background or experience desired for the job. I recently had not one but two candidates contact me separately about applying to positions that were seeking applicants with very different background and experience than what both of these candidates possessed. I then explained to each of them that firms will not consider them to be something that they are not. Another basic criterion that is sometimes ignored is the range of years of experience sought by a job description. I have seen senior candidates seek to apply to positions seeking only junior applicants with 2-4 years or so of experience, well below the candidates’ own level. While these candidates often make a valid point that they have more experience, the law firms unfortunately do not work that way. While firms may show some degree of flexibility with their stated desired range (1-2 years or so), they will virtually never consider a candidate who is 5, 10 or 15 or more years beyond that range.
The fitness of a candidate to a particular job is one of the most important evaluations that needs to be taken early in the job search process. Proper evaluations will result in applications that have the best chance of success and a minimum of wasted time on job opportunities that are not appropriate.
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