Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tapping into the Hidden Job Market

Career Services Office (CSO) talks a lot about the "hidden job market," or networking. You probably think it's a load of crap but it's not. In a struggling economy where jobs are scarce, networking may be your only ticket to getting a job.

When I worked in Human Resources, I would typically receive as many as a hundred resumes for one opening. All things being equal with respect to education and experience, I would select the candidate referred by current employees because it created a distinguishable characteristic where none had previously existed; the current employee was a readily available personal reference.

Networking during law school is beneficial because it puts you in direct contact with lawyers in your area who may be hiring or who may know someone else who is hiring. The most difficult part of networking is getting started. Inn of Courts have been great networking opportunities for several of my friends and internships are another great way to enmesh yourself in the legal community while in law school.

My law school hosts a variety of networking events that enable students to meet practicing attorneys or judges. A friend of mine received an invitation to interview during one such event.If your school hosts these sorts of events, then you should definitely try to attend one.

I have been lucky. Early in law school, I accepted a part-time position that has put me in contact with a lot of different legal professionals, from paralegals to judges, and has been wonderful on the networking front.

For example, there is a clerk position open with a judge I have worked with on several projects. Only problem is I missed the stated clerkship deadline. So, I called her and she told me to submit my application packet anyway and she would still consider it.

I cannot say for sure that she would not give someone else a few extra days but given the competitive nature of clerkships, and the strictly imposed deadlines, I think our existing professional relationship - cultivated through networking - was a factor in her decision to extend the deadline for me.

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