Interview
22 August 2018

How to land the right law job

Published on 22 August 2018
Advice from Jo Calder, National Human Resources Manager, Buddle Findlay

Whether you’re looking for a graduate role or your next career move, it always helps to put your best foot forward. This can often involve a psychic game of second-guessing what recruiters and human resource managers are looking for in a lawyer. To help you land your next job, Insights spoke to Jo Calder, National Human Resources Manager of Buddle Findlay, a major commercial law firm in New Zealand. We asked Jo what ‘red flags’ recruiters note in resumes and interviews, and how lawyers can best present themselves when they hunt for their next job.

“We’re looking for well-rounded individuals,” said Jo. “We don’t just want academically strong results, because that’s only part of the equation.  Successful candidates are self-motivated, eager, passionate and driven. They also have exceptional communication and personal presentation skills and exemplary attention to detail.”

Diversity and resilience are essential

Diversity of experience, upbringing and background are also essential. 

“Candidates who are only academically strong can cause us to think twice about a hire. It’s important to have exposure to activities, hobbies or community involvement outside of university to understand the law in context,” said Jo.

Indeed, hiring for diversity has been shown to benefit not only company culture, but also the bottom line. In a study of 3000 publicly-traded companies, it was found companies with strong diversity results were more resilient in terms of innovation during the 2008 financial crisis. 

It’s the little things that matter

It’s important to avoid a ‘spray and pray’ approach when it comes to job hunting. This can be a major red flag when it comes to hiring. Making spelling mistakes in letters and resumes or including another firm’s name in cover letters shows you’re not committed to a career with a specific firm. 

“Research the firm, its practice areas, clients and key deals,” advised Jo. “Show us why you feel Buddle Findlay is the best match for you. Know who we are and what we do. The more candidates know us the more confident they will feel.”

Always keep in mind that interviews must be more than a one-way communication. It is as much an opportunity for you to find out if the firm is the right fit in terms of culture and career progression. 

“We want to hear about your story. Share with us your specific experiences and be enthusiastic. Ask us questions; interview us too – candidates need to know that Buddle Findlay is the right firm for them. The opportunity is a pathway to a career; not just a job.”

Showcase yourself

So how can lawyers make themselves more employable and attractive to firms? In short, showcase yourself.

“Stand out from the crowd,” said Jo. “Be confident, not arrogant. Be eager, open and honest. Showcase you – outside of your academic qualifications.  Reflect your knowledge about Buddle Findlay, and really engage with the process. Show you appreciate the opportunity to be considered and show us who you really are and why you'd be a perfect match for us.”