With ever-increasing numbers of law graduates hunting for work, students can’t avoid the core essentials when making their applications — strong marks, an impressive résumé and a winning personality.
This is the view of Germano Legal Consulting principal Joseph Germano, a former in-house lawyer who now specialises in legal recruitment and consulting.
“It’s pretty tough, as it is always for graduates, because there are so many law students out there,” Germano said. “Particularly in Victoria, where you have to do articled clerkships and there are only limited numbers of those [vacancies] available in certain firms, and there are hundreds of students coming out of each university.”
In the face of such competition, students must acknowledge that all a firm really has to evaluate them on are their marks and personality, reflected through a stand-out résumé.
“Students need to know themselves really, really well, and be able to sell themselves when they go to these career fairs and when they go and see the firms,” he said.
The key to selling your talents as an applicant is to accumulate as much “on-point experience”, or experience directly relevant to the legal profession, as possible. Germano said that when it comes to “on-point experience”, the more the better. But “if it’s not on-point experience — for example if it’s only that you worked at Coles or Kentucky Fried Chicken through your uni days — don’t get into too much depth. I think that’s what a lot of people are doing because that’s the only experience they have. An employer would say ‘yeah, great, we know that you can work, but it’s not really on-point, so you don’t need to put down half a page on it’.”
Germano has recognised that the quality of résumés has improved in recent times, though there is still plenty of scope for further improvement. One option would be to consider having your résumé done professionally rather than trying to put it together yourself.
“Professional résumé writers know exactly what to draw out of your work experience, and put it down in the best possible terms to market you,” he said.