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How to (Maybe) Get a Job

June 16, 2008

I came across the following post on Constant Struggle and thought I would share it because it is good advice.  Yes, I know it probably would have been more helpful in March, but I just found it today.  The post is geared toward those applying for public interest jobs, but most of it applies across the board.


“So you’re a do-gooder 1 or 2L and you’re looking for a summer job that doesn’t suck. Here’s some free advice from a public interest attorney:


  • Do not send a “Dear Recruiting Coordinator” or “To Whom It May Concern” letter. If you don’t care enough to spend two minutes on the website to find out my name, I’m not going to care enough to spend two minutes reading your resume.
  • Have relevant experience. If you don’t, explain why I should hire you anyway.
  • Don’t send generic cover letters. I know you want a job. Everyone wants a job. I want to hire someone who wants this job. Tell me why that person is you.
  • Spell-check is your friend.
  • It helps if the phone number listed on your resume isn’t disconnected.
  • Nobody reads writing samples.
  • If the job announcement says to send a writing sample, send a writing sample. Show me you can understand and follow simple instructions.
  • I don’t care that you’re into animal husbandry and deep-sea diving. I do care about training you’ve had, community service you’ve done, and so on. Tell me about those instead of your ‘Interests’.
  • Don’t claim to have skills you don’t. Fluency is a term of art. If you can’t carry on a conversation without hesitation at normal speed you are not fluent.
  • I am going to call your references. Make sure they exist and have something relevant to say about you. “Yes, Jane was in my torts class” is not going to get you hired.


  • If I ask you if you can make it to an interview at X time on day Y, unless you or a member of your immediate family is scheduled for major surgery, say “yes.” I know you’re busy. Everyone is busy. Be there.
  • Know something about the organization before you come in.
  • It helps to know something about the relevant law, as well.
  • Smile.
  • Be sincere. Poor people can smell bullshit a mile away. So can I.
  • Don’t be late.
  • If you’re going to be late, call.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume.
  • It’s OK to ask what specifically you’ll be expected to do. Frame this question in a way that makes me think you want to do more, not less. Yes, you’ll be doing some shit work. Some jobs are shit work 5 hours a week. Some jobs are shit work 60 hours a week. Know what you’re getting into.
  • If the interviewer asks if you have any questions, have a question. It helps to show that you have some interest and aren’t a complete idiot.”
2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2008 3:08 am

    To this list I would add, clean up your Myspace / Facebook page. Delete any pictures of you (or your friends) drinking or generally making an ass of yourself. You are applying for a professional job, so you need to present a professional image.


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