How Do I Market Myself Effectively?
The legal market continues to endure languid and challenging for seasoned lawyers alike. If you are in that category and, currently, are seeking a new job, you might feel tainted by a certain lofty but not particularly helpful label: “overqualified.” How, then, will you establish yourself in the legal market if no one is willing to hire you because of the quantity of your experience and education? Fortunately for you, “overqualified” does not have to be a career death sentence. It is all a matter of marketing yourself effectively and seeking out the best opportunities. Here, we will look at some ways that you can make yourself shine even if you don that rusty overcoat that exclaims overqualified!
Before getting into ways to market yourself as an experienced attorney, you might benefit from understanding the challenges hiring managers face when presented with an overqualified candidate. For one, law firms tend to stick their attorneys into very specific categories, such as Associate, Junior Partner, and Partner. Having an extra year or two of experience under your belt may disrupt the very clear path to partner already laid out by the firm. Making necessary adjustments for a new hire may be viewed as unfair to current lawyers who have been working at the law firm for a long time, waiting to advance.
Another issue that a hiring manager might take into account is the risk that you will grow to resent your job. As an overqualified attorney, you might quickly grow bored with the position and its lower pay and wish to be challenged and appreciated for the more sophisticated skills you have mastered over the years. Such an attitude can ruin the workplace environment for both you and other diligent employees. Remember that hiring managers look at more than qualifications when making a decision on a single candidate; they must also consider perceived fit. If they at any moment doubt that your experience will be of benefit to you or the firm, they may opt to pass you over in favor of a candidate who is a better fit.
With all that said, do not give up hope. There are hiring managers out there who are willing to look at your resume and assess you fairly, but do know that gaining favorable attention requires thoughtful strategy on your part. Below are some ways that you can market yourself to be more appealing even as an overqualified applicant.
1. Focus on small- to mid-sized firms.
Smaller firms tend not to have the same resources or the same amount of time as large law firms to recruit top talent with the necessary experience to succeed at the firm. Such candidates often actively seek out large firms anyway. As a result, you might be a standout if you apply for positions at such modest-sized firms. Try to tailor your cover letter and resume specifically toward the law firm and the position to which you are applying, emphasizing that your breadth of skill and experience matches the firm’s own mission. Small firms tend to appreciate such enthusiasm and are willing to help out attorneys who can open doors to the firm itself.
2. Focus specifically on your unique set of skills.
Think about what sets you apart from other attorneys on the market, both the experienced and those fresh out of law school. Maybe you are skilled at operating new technologies. Perhaps you have extensive experience with putting together a litigation strategy. Whatever the skill is, be sure to highlight it and emphasize how your experience helped to shape or further develop the skill. Hiring managers like it when candidates showcase their strengths and demonstrate exactly how such strengths can be used to the advantage of the firm.
3. Seek out an experienced legal recruiter and make full use of the resources they provide.
Do not underestimate the potential and power of a good legal recruiter. A legal recruiter can help you seek out positions often hidden to the general job-seeking public and point you in the right direction toward other worthwhile opportunities that can enhance your career. Not to mention, a good recruiter can also help you polish your materials so that they are ready for prime-time. Consider having a recruiter review your resume and cover letter and offering you tips to help you ace your next interview. Moreover, legal recruiters often maintain close relationships with several law firms—so make sure to be proactive about your job search so that the recruiter can put in a good word for you!
To conclude, do not feel defeated if you are overqualified. Simply stay determined, market yourself with great vigor and specificity, and with time you might just find yourself heading toward an auspicious career.
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Are you an attorney looking for a new position? Do you need some assistance in improving your resume or job search? If so, contact a Career Counselor with Lexacount Search’s Career Consulting Services. Or, if you are interested in learning more about attorney or other roles in the legal industry, contact a Search Consultant from Lexacount Search’s Legal Group.