Interact with the firm outside of the application process. This could include making an effort to attend careers fairs and asking the firm a few questions.
Careers fairs are usually held early on in the year before most vacation scheme applications are open. This is important because it is something to mention on your application, e.g. that you have spoken to the firm at a law fair and were impressed by your experience.
It is also important because it means that the firm will get to meet you face to face before you submit your application. Then, when someone is reading your initial application for a vacation scheme, they will also have a face to put to your application.
Interaction with the firm can also include attending open days, or attending networking events where members of the firm are also attending so you can talk to these people and make a good first impression.
Then, later on in an interview for example, you could drop in “I spoke to [this person] at a networking event and was very impressed with the work that your firm does in [this area of law]”. This will show recruiters that you have made a conscious effort to familiarise yourself with the firm.
Have patience and be persistent. Apply more than once. Use the feedback from previous applications to improve before you submit your next application.
It is easy to become disheartened after a rejection (or several) from a law firm. However, you should use this to drive you towards your next application.
You will soon discover after applying to different firms that you would not fit in at every one. Each law firm will be completely different and will offer diverse types of vacation scheme and it will take time to find a firm that you will match with.
If you are rejected at some point, make sure you ask for feedback on why you were unsuccessful. This ensures that you can take this feedback to guide you on how you can improve and what you can work on before your next application, either to that same firm or a different one.
Don’t assume that once you have been rejected from a law firm that you can’t apply again to that same firm. Instead, spend the year working on the feedback that you were given and apply again the next year, demonstrating how much you have developed in one year.
If a firm declines to offer feedback at an early stage, for example your initial application form or the video interview, then go to someone else for help like a careers adviser or a tutor that used to work in a law firm. They will be able to look at your application and may be able to point out mistakes that you couldn’t spot yourself. Or they could run through a practice interview with you and point out areas for improvement.
Make sure you are prepared for each individual stage of the application process.
Each firm can have a completely unique application process; thus, you need to find out how the particular firm you’re applying to runs its recruitment process and prepare thoroughly for each stage.
You can find out by looking at the firm’s website, as the application process will usually be detailed on the graduate page. If not, you can ask the question at a careers fair, or even call up the firm to ask a few questions.
They might even appreciate your initiative to pick up the phone and ask yourself.
Once you know how the process works, you can then make a plan before each stage to prepare yourself. Preparation is important as you do not want to appear too surprised at any stage of the application process (unless the firm’s intention was to provide an unseen activity).
A prepared candidate is desirable as it will demonstrate to the firm that you are committed to your application to them.
Tailor your application. Not all law firms are made equal and indeed each law firm, though they may seem similar in their work, people and values, are all unique in their own special way.
One huge way to differentiate yourself from other applicants is to show an awareness of the firm you are applying to. This can be through insights during open days, interactions with lawyers at the firm, or an interesting piece of news related to the firm.
The next important step is to then show a connection between you, as a potential employee, and the firm, especially how you are suited to the firm and vice versa.
Find the confidence to sell yourself. It will be difficult for you to stand out among other applicants if you do not draw attention to your best qualities. In assessment centres and interviews you should not be too modest about yourself.
The firm will be looking for candidates that demonstrate certain skills and confidence, so you need to make sure that you are making it clear that you possess these skills.
You may not have a lot of one-to-one time with the law firm during the application process, therefore you need to sell yourself clearly so the firm will recognise that you can perform both on paper and in person.
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