If you are looking for a job then one of the most important things you can do is see opportunities where others see huge obstacles. Most of the world sees huge obstacles to everything. There are always obstacles to anyone and everyone doing the absolute best that can be done at something. If you want to get the best possible job and go as far as possible in your career then you need to insure that you are not seeing obstacles and that every obstacle you see is, in fact, an opportunity. When you look at the lives of people who have done exceptionally well in the law and in most fields you will generally find that they see opportunities where most of us see obstacles.
George McGovern was nominated by the Democratic convention in 1972 as a candidate to run against Richard Nixon. In the midst of the convention, McGovern decided that he no longer wanted Senator Eagleton to be his vice-presidential running mate. At the time there were thousands of bumper stickers and pins that had been made up that said "McGovern-Eagleton". A young sixteen-year-old entrepreneur bought up approximately 5,000 of these buttons and stickers for around 5-cents each. Within a short time the same entrepreneur sold individual buttons and stickers as historical memorabilia for as much as $25 each. The person's name? Bill Gates.
People like Bill Gates have massive lessons to teach the world because they can see opportunities where others may simply see obstacles. In order to do well in a job search you absolutely need to make sure you are looking out for where the opportunities are to succeed.
"I did not go to the right school"
This is ridiculous. Most of the highest paid attorneys in the United States did not go to good schools either. In fact, the very, very highest paid attorneys may have barely made it through law school. What these attorneys did is they focused on their strengths and made the absolute most they could of them.
The law school you went to simply does not matter. Yes, the law school you went to may hold some importance for the very highest paying law firms; however, for the most part your law school should be looked upon as a positive.
If you went to a terrible law school, find people who also went to this law school and connect with them. Find the most successful attorneys and learn from them and ask them all sorts of questions about how they overcame the law school they went to. Send them letters thanking them for the lessons they taught you. Incorporate what they told you. Work hard to overcome what you may lack in an exceptional school pedigree by working on your personality, reading books about how to bring in business, making sure you work harder on your legal skills than someone else does.
Nothing is more common than people who go to a good law school and believe based on this that they can stop trying harder. The best thing that ever happened to me personally was not getting into a certain ivy league school my father and a lot of my family went to. This taught me right then and there that I could never rest on my laurels and needed to keep working and working. Not getting into that school was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. People who go to the best schools often believe they can simply rest on their laurels due to that one achievement.
If you did not go to the best school then realize that while those who may have gone to a better school may rest on their laurels you are going to keep working on yourself and getting better and better. You will surpass them and when you do they will not even have seen you coming and you will not need to look back.
"I do not have the right experience"
Regardless of the experience you have, you have some experience doing something. The experience excuse is crazy to me. Everyone has experience!
Maybe you used to work in an oil field as a roughneck and put yourself through night law school. You then could then use you knowledge and connection to oil workers to connect with people injured in accidents in oil fields and then represent them.
Regardless of your experience, there is some sort of experience you have that you can put to use to get the position you want. You need to think of what you have done that is related to what you want to do. You need to connect with others in the law who have had similar experiences to you.
Perhaps, however, you truly do not have any experience which is relevant to what you want to do. I doubt this-however, it is possible. If this is the case then the way to look at this is to take the experience you do have as something that is a fantastic lesson that you need to find ways to get the experience you want to get the sort of position you want. This may mean taking on a given responsibility in your current job, or seeking out new sorts of work. Whatever you are seeking to do, you can get the experience.
For example, one of the most attractive things to potential employers is when someone is so serious about doing something that they have taken classes, volunteered, or done something extraordinary to the experience that they need in order to do a job. People (naturally) want to assist those who are trying hard to advance.
"I live in the wrong part of the country"
Regardless of where you live in the United States there is tons of legal work to be done-and the sort of legal work you want to do. The belief that you cannot get a job because of where you live is completely fallacious.
One of the most important abilities of anyone-in any profession---is the ability to create work. Very good lawyers are experts at creating work for themselves and are constantly doing it and able to create this work.
Imagine, for example, you are in a small rural town and want to practice patent law. You could find local inventors and get to know them and also ask them for referrals. You could also put up a website. You could write attorneys in other small law firms around the country for work. The list of possibilities is endless. In order to get the work you need you do need to find opportunities and you can find them wherever you are.
One of the secrets of selling anything is you need to put people in pain by identifying a need they may have that they did not know they had. This is something you can do quite easily once you adopt the mindset of seeing the sorts of work people are likely to need done. If you see an inventor discussing something he is working on you could go up to him and say "Are you crazy? You need to patent this before you talk about it!" A solid and good attorney is always creating demand and finding ways to get work no matter where they are.
In a small town this could be traveling to other towns and giving talks. This could be speaking with local organization. There are tons of ways that people can get business. You simply need to insure that you are making the most of each opportunity you have to get the work you want. It does not matter where you are-you can do anything if you try hard enough.
"I do not have the right personality to fit in"
Then change your personality-or better yet, do not change your personality.
I remember listening to a lawyer talk about business generation once and hearing him say that the biggest nerd in Los Angeles was also the biggest business generator. That is to day: Just be who you are-it is probably good enough.
Everyone fits in wherever they are because there are a variety of people everywhere. You need to look for reasons why you fit in.
"I have a learning disability"
Incredibly, I heard an attorney say this once and use this as a reason for not succeeding. You know what this guy did? He found a job representing foreigners who did not speak English and they never caught on that he was not the sharpest tack around. This guy is having more fun and making more money than the majority of attorneys out there. And while the work he is doing is not that difficult, he is charging a fair price for it and doing good work.
"My grades were not good enough in law school"
Who cares. I know someone who got a "C-" average at a mediocre law school who got a clerkship with a Federal Appellate Judge and also got a job at a firm routinely ranked as one of the top 10 most prestigious firms in the United States. The judge and firm never asked for her grades! Then I placed the same girl at an AmLaw 20 firm and the firm that hired her never asked for her grades either. To answer your suspicions, this girl was no "knockout". She just got lucky. You can too. Lots of attorneys do. The secret is applying to as many jobs as possible and looking the part. In this girl's case she had written herself onto the law review at her school and was also elected managing editor.
"The Best Recruiters Will Not Work With Me" Who cares. I do not have as an exciting life as a rock star. There are lots of things you could have that you do not. If the best recruiters will not work with you then find a job on your own. There are some easy places you can find opportunities when you are seeking for a job regardless of whether or not you use a recruiter:
LawCrossing. Yes, I am the founder of LawCrossing. Yes, LawCrossing costs money each month. Nevertheless, LawCrossing does have over 250 people working for it looking for jobs for you each day. It has a multimillion dollar database that searches every legal employer's website daily and the people at LawCrossing also do a ton of this work manually as well. LawCrossing also searches literally thousands of newspapers around the United States each day in search of jobs. LawCrossing is an excellent way to put hundreds of people to work for you finding opportunities. The fact that many people do not want to pay the nominal amount this service charges is fine. Those are the same people who are not competing with LawCrossing members for jobs!
Legal Authority. Yes, I am also the Founder of Legal Authority. I happen to really believe in the service and am quite passionate about it. Legal Authority is probably the most effective method of finding a position out there. With Legal Authority you can literally apply to all of the firms of a size you choose and in a interested in practicing litigation in Aurora, Illinois with a firm of less than 10 attorneys you can apply to all of these firms at one time. The benefit of practice area you choose in an area you specify. For example, if you are using a service like this is huge because you will find firms with a need that might not even be advertising. In addition, as part of the Legal Authority service you will have your resume and cover letter professionally done. This can make a huge difference when you are applying for jobs
Regardless of how you are doing your job search, if you are looking for a position the very last thing you should do is limit the number of places you are applying to. The more places you are applying to the more opportunities you are likely to get. You need to look for a position in a comprehensive and far-reaching way. The more places you apply to the better chance you will have of getting another position. In addition, the employer you are applying to may put you in touch with someone else who does have excellent opportunities. Insure you are applying to many places at once.
"My resume stinks" Then make your resume better. Buy a book about attorney resumes such as one I wrote (Attorney Resume Secrets Revealed available from my company Attorney Research Group (www.attorneyresearchgroup.com)) and make your resume perfect. Better yet, hire a professional resume service such as Attorney Resume (www.attorneyresume.com) to do your resume (yes, this is also a company I founded). Set professionals to work on your resume and make your resume outstanding. You owe it to yourself to get a fantastic resume completed.
Regardless of whether you hire a company like Attorney Resume or work on your resume yourself, you need to get the most professional resume possible done. A professional can help you bring out your strengths.
The best possible thing you can do with your career is start seeing opportunities where the rest of the world is seeing obstacles. Even obstacles should be something that you see as actual opportunities. Do not let the world get you down-take action and improve and go where you want to go.
I firmly believe that you can accomplish whatever you set out to do and to be. I believe in you and have dedicated my life to providing you with the inspiration and career tools to get to where you want to go. Take your career to the next level and become who you want to become. Never let any perceived obstacle hold you back. You deserve better than that.
See 6 Things Attorneys and Law Students Need to Remove from Their Resumes ASAP If They Want to Get Jobs with the Most Prestigious Law Firms for more information.
Harrison Barnes is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter. He is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. His firm BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys. BCG Attorney Search works with attorneys to dramatically improve their careers by leaving no stone unturned in job searches and bringing out the very best in them. Harrison has placed the leaders of the nation’s top law firms, and countless associates who have gone on to lead the nation’s top law firms. There are very few firms Harrison has not made placements with. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placements attract millions of reads each year. He coaches and consults with law firms about how to dramatically improve their recruiting and retention efforts. His company LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.
About BCG Attorney Search
BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.
Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays
You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts
You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives
Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.