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Make Yourself Stick With These First Impression Tips

Written by Brett McKay

Law firm internships start in just a few weeks. Part of my preparation includes re-evaluating the first impression I give to people. Do I come off as likable? Do I exude professionalism and charm?

The goal of every first impression is to stick to a person’s brain. You want them to instantly like you and to keep thinking about you hours or even days after your first met them. Here are few things we can all do go give a killer first impression.

Dress to impress. You don’t want to walk into an interview looking like a slob. If you look sloppy, people will assume you do sloppy work. Look neat and presentable. Also, dress so you’ll fit in with the people who are interviewing you. For attorneys that means conservative suits, white shirts, and ties. If your job is more creative, say like a graphic designer, dress so it looks like you’re creative. For great clothing tips, watch TLC’s What Not To Wear.

Look fit. People are attracted to people in good physical shape. If you’re out of shape, start heading to the gym everyday for 30 minutes of cardio and strength training. Also, quit eating junk and start eating healthy.

Give an impressive handshake. The first handshake is a key part in giving a good first impression.

Focus on speaking. Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Work on varying your voice intonation. You don’t want to come off as a monotone bore. Also, speak the language of the person interviewing you. Avoid slang and jargon not associated with the job you’re interviewing for. Use proper grammar and vocab that reflects a higher education. If people can’t understand you, it’s hard for them to like you.

Use the person’s name. Using the interviewer’s name makes the conversation more personable. It also shows that you were paying attention during introductions and that the other person was important enough for you to memorize their name. However, avoid overusing a person’s name. Too much name use is off putting because it sounds fake and a little bit creepy.

Let the person know you’re listening. If it looks like you’re not listening, people will be turned off. Give subtle hints that you’re listening such as looking the person in the eye, nodding, and saying an occasional “I see.” Also , ask questions about what someone had just said. It shows you’ve been paying attention and that you want to know more about what they’re saying. Finally, don’t interrupt.

Shine the spotlight on the other person. The secret to charm is directing attention away from you and on to the other person. Avoid blabbing about yourself and start asking questions about the other person. Great questions to ask in an interview include:

  • “How did you end up at (name of company)?”
  • “What drew you to (name of company)?
  • What do you like most about working at (name of company)?”

You’ll not only get key insights about your potential employer, but the questions also require the interviewer to talk about themselves and people love talking about themselves.

What other things can we do to give a good first impression? Drop a comment and add to the conversation.

Make Your Resume Pop With These Resume Writing Tips

Written by Brett McKay

These past few weeks, I’ve been slowly preparing for interviews for summer internships. Part of that preparation includes updating my resume. I’ve not only been updating it, I’ve also been looking at how to improve its presentation and make it pop. Here’s a list of things that you can do to revamp your resume and make it pop.

Get rid of the Microsoft Word Templates. Part of making a resume pop is having a unique layout. It’s hard to be unique if you use the same template that every other candidate is using. There are plenty of great resume templates out there. Take the ones you like and mesh them together to make your own unique layout.

Use bullets, bold, and italics effectively. You want to make your resume as scannable as possible. Use formatting to assist in this.

Give figures and be specific. In your past job descriptions or volunteer section, give specific figures of what you accomplished while holding that position. For example, I used to train third party verifiers for gas and electric companies. Instead of just putting trainer, I put “Trained 15 new employees on how to perform third party verifications.” If your only job experience are part time jobs during college, put down how many hours you worked during a week while going to school full time. This shows employers that you know how to multi task and manage your time.

Be confident. Your resume is not the time to be modest. Your goal is to sell yourself to the interviewer. If you have a big accomplishment, make sure to include it. Be proud!

Read up on copywriting. Copywriting is the art of writing to sell. By studying copywriting you can learn which words are the most effective and powerful in getting your message across. A great place to start is Copyblogger.com. Also, go by your library. There are tons of books on copywriting.

Don’t lie. This is a given, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who fudge their resumes. You can make yourself look good without having to be dishonest. Nothing can hurt your reputation more than lying on your resume.

Check for grammar and spelling errors. Repeat. Then repeat again. Remember, your resume is a reflection of you. If it’s full of typos, recruiters will automatically assume you do sloppy work. Take the time to edit your resume again and again. Have your friends take a look at it as well for editing purposes.

Featured Resource

Unfortunately most schools never make Resume Writing a part of their Writing Curricula, but being able to write a quality resume is a huge part of finding a Job. Improve your current resume with a few Online Learning courses to gain additional marketable skills.

How Do You Get A Job That Requires Experience So You Can Get Experience?

Written by Brett McKay

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One of the big problems facing young professionals just starting out is their lack of experience. Most employers are seeking employees with a couple of years of work experience under their belt. How do you get a job that requires experience so you can get the experience?

Start off in a different position. If the job you want requires previous experience in that position, try consider taking a different position in the same department or firm that doesn’t require previous experience. You’ll get to work with the person in the job you want and get an idea of what they do. When the job opens up again, apply for it. Many companies often look internally first for filling new positions. By working a different job in the same place, you can put yourself in a position to land the job you want.

Focus on your ability to learn. When interviewing for a job that requires experience you don’t have, play up your ability to learn quickly. In order for this to work, give specific examples. A great way to do this is interview the firm and the challenges they’re facing and offer possible solutions to them. That ought to impress the interviewer with your ability to learn quickly.

Delay the paying job and get an internship. Internships are a great way to learn about a career or job you’re interested in. If you don’t have the experience to get the job you want right away, take a year off and intern to get the experience you need.

Do contract or freelance work. Look around for freelance or contract work that can give you the experience you need to land the job you want. For example, if you’re law grad and the job you want requires experience in a certain area of law, see if you could do contract legal research for a firm that specializes in that kind of law.

Law School Myth: You Don’t Need A Big Name Degree To Land A Big Firm Job

Written by Brett McKay

One of the many things future law students have to fret over is what rank their law school is in the infamous U.S. News and World Report College Rankings. The rank of your law school often determines whether you can land judicial clerkships or big firm jobs after graduating.

If you’re one of the thousands of law students who didn’t get into a top school and are worried your legal career has no chance of seeing time at a big firm, I’m here to tell you shouldn’t worry.

A law school myth

You don’t need a degree from a big name school to land a job with a big name firm. Sure, having the sheep skin from Harvard or Yale will give your more opportunities to get your foot in the door, but with a little creativity and some hard work, you can land a big firm job with a degree from any law school.

Think local

Instead of applying to big national firms, focus on applying to the bigger firms in your geographic area. Hiring partners will cast a favorable eye on you because you have some ties to the area by attending law school there.You might not start out at $150,000, but you’ll definitely be making good money.

If you really want to practice at a big firm in LA or New York, but can’t get into a top ranked school, go to law school in those geographic areas. While the big firms do take grads from nationally prestigious schools, they also hire associates from lower ranked schools in the area. Show your commitment to staying in the area by getting your drivers licence from there. Change your area code to a more local one. Become a resident of the state.

Of course, you’ll have to be the top of your class if you want to land an interview with the local big firms. So, focus on doing the best you can.

It’s about who you know

It’s all about networking. Make as many contacts as you can with people at big firms. Your contacts can help you get in through the backdoor at larger firms. Attend social meetings for lawyers, do moot court and talk to the guest judges, just start contacting.

Specialize

Another thing you can do to land a big firm job on a low ranked degree is specialize in less common areas of law. When a high demand arises for a particular kind of associate, but there aren’t many associates to fill the spot, big name firms will start looking to lower ranked schools.

Talk to attorneys in your area to find out which area of law has a high demand that isn’t being filled. Market yourself as an attorney specializing in that area and you’ll find yourself at a big firm.

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You Don’t Need A College Degree to Earn a Decent Living

Written by Brett McKay

If you want to earn more, you have to get a college degree. While it’s true that individuals with college degrees earn more, you can still earn a decent living even if you don’t have a degree.

What if college is not possible?

For many people, college just isn’t in their future. It could be the price or other personal reasons that keep them away. Heck, some people just don’t like school. Is there any hope for these types of individuals to make a decent living?

The answer is a resounding yes! Here’s an interesting list of the best careers that don’t require a college degree. It looks like most of them pay $50,000-$60,000 a year. While you’re not going to become wealthy on that, you can create a comfortable life if you practice sound financial principles.

The top 5 careers that don’t require a degree

  1. Air traffic controller
  2. Elevator Install
  3. Gaming Mgr.
  4. Dental hygienist
  5. Transportation Mgr.

While these careers don’t require a college degree, they do require some training at some type of trade school. Tuition, however, at trade schools are generally much lower than college tuition.

Some will argue that $50,000 doesn’t go very far in different parts of the country. You’ll have to sacrifice some luxuries in order to have a comfortable life, but many of the things you’ll sacrifice you won’t miss. You might consider moving to a different area if the cost is too high and if you have a job opportunity exists.

Again, I want to reiterate, you’re not going be making six figures with these jobs. If you want an upper middle class lifestyle, then you’re best bet is to go to school and get a degree. But if college isn’t in your picture, take a look at the list and see what your options are.

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The Work Ethic of the Modern Student

Written by Brett McKay

The New York Times has an interesting article about the new work ethic of modern college students. It was written by Joanne B. Ciulla, a professor the University of Richmond. Basically, Professor Ciulla writes how she has noticed the traditional Prostestant work ethic, with it’s focus on work as a means for self improvement, being eschewed for a new work ethic that just focuses on money. She then goes on to describe behavior by college students that demonstrates this new set of values.

Here are some of the traits that Professor Ciulla has noticed:

Entitled to a do-over

I noticed this all the time when I was in undergrad. If kids didn’t get a good grade on a paper or test, they would ask if they could do it again. Professor Ciulla notes that the students who make this request aren’t failing but want to push their grade up to an A- or a B.

The problem with this attitude is that in the working world, you often don’t get a chance for a do-over. In today’s cut throat economy, employers demand quality and they demand it fast. Unfortunately, many college professors are caving into these requests by students. Consequently, many students leave school thinking they’ll get a do-over in grad school or on the job.

Clock Punching

Professor Ciulla notes that many students feel they deserve a higher grade just because they put so much time into a test or paper. I noticed this as well when I was an undergrad. Here’s the deal: in the real world, your employer doesn’t care how much time you put into a project. If it sucks, the company loses money. Effort doesn’t count on the job, results do.

Overblown egos

My generation grew up during the age of self esteem. Ever since elementary school, we’ve been told we’re special and that we can do anything in the world. Kids get prizes even if they come in last place, just so no one gets their feelings hurt. On top of that is the grade inflation that runs rampant in colleges now.

As a result, many young students have a misled idea of how their work stacks up against others. When they land their first job and get reamed for a lousy performance, young people often suffer from a spat of cognitive dissonance. Their whole life they were told they were awesome. Now, all of a sudden they’re told their work sucks. It doesn’t make sense to them.

In the real world, there are losers. It’s too bad that many young people have to learn this during their first job.

What can be done?

First, we can dump the whole self esteem thing. Of course we should teach children the value of having a good self image. A person with a healthy self image values themselves, but recognizes there’s room for improvement. People with high self esteem often are oblivious to the fact that they can improve.

Second, schools need to stop inflating grades. This is going to be a tough one. Because our system of higher education has turned into a business with students and parents as consumers, college deans, in pursuit of turning a profit, cave into consumer demand, ie higher grades. I think if anything is to be done, parents will have to demand that colleges stop inflating grades.

What do you all think? Is our society preparing young people adequately for the working world? If not, what can be done to prepare them?

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