Out-of-State Job Search
Do you know where you want to land a job, but not know how to attract an out-of-town employer’s eye? The following tips will help you develop an out-of-town job search strategy. In addition, any counselor in Career Development can help you develop an individualized plan for the market in which you’re interested.
The Employer’s Perspective
Turnover is costly to law firms, and candidates with no ties to a city are perceived a greater “hiring risk.” You need to address this risk directly in your resume and cover letter. Let employers know in your cover letter if you have friends or family in the region. If you are drawn to an area for a particular practice (New York’s financial practice or Washington D.C.’s regulatory practice), indicate that in your cover letter. Support your interest in the region in your resume with statements like “Scheduled to take the July 23 California bar exam,” “Yankees fan,” or “Appalachian Trail hiker.” Do all you can to establish your sincere interest in both the region and the organization you wish to join. A career services counselor can help you fine tune both your resume and cover letter.
Demonstrate knowledge of the local legal market by reading legal publications specific to each city. These publications, which a reference librarian or a career counselor can help you locate, can provide insight on an area’s local firms, legal issues, leaders in the community, and other information.
Employers far from Ohio State may not be familiar with the school’s excellent reputation. It is your responsibility to educate employers about the university. Be concise. For example, you might write one of these sentences in a cover letter: “As a rising second-year student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, one of the nation’s premier public law schools, I am beginning my search for a summer clerkship;” or “I will earn a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from Ohio State’s program, which is consistently ranked among the top ADR programs in the U.S.”
Research Potential Employers
Cast a wide net to capture as many prospective employers as possible. Understand that employers hire at different times based on their size. Alumni can be a great resource, and the Career Development Office can help you identify alumni who may be able to conduct “informational interviews” that can give you a head start on understanding the local legal market. Here are a few resources that will help you identify potential employers in a region:
- Martindale-Hubbell provides information on law firms of all sizes and on individual lawyers. The online destination contains profiles for over one million lawyers and firms in the Unites States, Canada and 160 other countries. The directory allows for searches to identify law firms in a particular city by size, practice area and more. Martindale also allows for searches by law school or undergraduate university attended, making it an effective tool for research and networking.
- NALP Directory of Legal Employers provides information about NALP member firms, including which firms hire students during the summers. Like Martindale, the directory allows for searches of member employers by city, state, office size and/or practice areas. However, the NALP directory is not a comprehensive listing of law firms; most mid-size and smaller firms are not NALP members and are not included. For students seeking to contact a number of member firms, the online site is equipped with mail merging capability.
- City Bar Directories will give you the names of most firms in the area, their practice areas, number of employees, and address and phone. You may call the firm to get the name of the person to whom you address job related correspondence. This is an excellent resource for both medium and small firms. If the Moritz Library does not have the bar directory for the city you want, see a career services counselor who will try to get the directory for you. If you know attorneys in the region, they may be able to get a copy for you. Some cities’ directories are also available online.
- Intercollegiate Job Bank will give you the job postings from law schools throughout the county and can be searched by state. Go to http://www.law2.byu.edu/. Click on “Current Students,” then “Career Development,” then “Find a Job” and finally, “Intercollegiate Job Bank.” Enter the username and password (see here) and you can search current job postings by school in the state you’re targeting. For example, the job postings for nine California schools can be found on this site.
- Law Schools – Go on the Internet to look at what may be available on the web site of local law schools. You may find lists of firms in the region and other information helpful in identifying prospective employers.
- Moritz Useful Job/Resources Link will give you federal and individual state government sites. Most government jobs are posted on the individual agency’s web site, which can easily be located through Google or other search engines.
- Review the Moritz clerkship website for an overview of the judicial clerkship hiring process. Also, see Liza Larky of Career Development in the spring to review the process. Off-cycle federal openings are also available. For more information about individual state judicial clerkships, visit the Vermont Clerkship Guide and click on “Access the Guide” (go to User Names/Passwords for access) and then “Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures” or an individual state guide. For most city/county courts, applications are accepted after bar passage. Judges’ names are most easily found in a local/county bar directory. Many states hire in the summer prior to a a student’s final year of law school.
- PSJD is a site where public interest employers post possibilities.
- Harvard Law School’s Career and Specialty Guides provide an in-depth look into many areas of public interest law.
- Idealist.com lists a variety of public interest, public service, and volunteer opportunities nationwide.
- Most large cities have legal temping firms that can help you find temporary or contract work. About 50 percent of these positions can become permanent positions, and you’ll benefit by meeting local attorneys who can become part of your job search network. The Career Development Office does not endorse specific search firms. Go to FindLaw or the Career Development website Temporary Agencies by City and/or State, to find a search firm in the city you are targeting.
- Indeed.com is a search engine that searches a variety of electronic job postings and can be searched by keyword, city, and state. You can register to have Indeed.com send you an e-mail each time a job that meets your criteria is posted.
- Lawyerintl.com provides a list of links to other legal employment sites as well as to several law school career services and general employment sites.
- Reciprocity allows students to use the Career Development offices of law schools around the country within certain restrictions and guidelines.
Develop a Proactive Plan
- Send a cover letter and resume to a prospective employer. If you will be in the city in the near future, let the employer know. A visit to the city underscores your seriousness about relocating. Detail your plan for following up with the employer in your cover letter. You are forecasting your confidence and willingness to follow through. For example, a cover letter might include a statement such as “I am scheduling a recruiting trip to San Francisco the week of July 30 and will be contacting your office prior to that time to explore the possibility of an interview. Alternatively, I can arrange to interview with you via the law school’s video conferencing services, or see you when I attend the college’s job fair in San Francisco on August 30.”
- If there are any Moritz graduates working for the employer, send a duplicate letter to that individual with a hand-written note saying you would welcome the opportunity to stop in and say hello if invited for an interview. This allows the alum to become an in-firm advocate for you if he or she so chooses.
- Contacts do matter. If you know someone known to the employer and you have their permission to use their name, incorporate that person’s name in the first sentence of the letter. For example: “I am writing to you by the suggestion of Brian Keetch. He is aware of my interest in returning to California to practice international law, and he thought your firm might be a good fit with my interests and abilities.”
- Follow up with an employer within two weeks of sending a letter. If the employer has not made a decision about who they will interview, ask when you can call again to check on the progress of your application. This way, you will not need to guess about when to call next. Ask to speak to the same person each time you call so you can develop some rapport with that person. Always have your resume in front of you each time you call in case the employer decides to conduct a screening interview by phone. Introduce yourself each time with one or two sentences that highlight your strengths. For example: “This is Mary Ann Nyswonger from Ohio State. You may recall I’m the candidate in the top quarter of the class interested in the firm’s litigation, international, and employment practices.”
- If the organization says it is not hiring, say you know that hiring needs change from time to time and ask if you can resubmit materials in six months – and then do it if you have not already found another job.
- Review the Interviewing Skills section on the Moritz Career Development website well in advance of interviewing. After your interview, email or send a thank you note to the individuals you met.
Develop a Reactive Plan
- Continually checking job posting sites will provide a steady stream of currently available positions. If you possess 75 percent or more of the qualities being sought, apply for the position. Some candidates make a case for the “equivalent experience” in their cover letters. A career advisor can help you make your case for equivalent experience if necessary.
- To enhance the probability of an interview, dissect the posting and identify those qualities the employer is seeking. Prepare a cover letter that details how your credentials fit those preferences.
- Follow up with employers as you would in a proactive search (see above). Let your references and others in your personal network know where you are applying in case they know individuals there and are willing to make calls on your behalf.
- Remember that the wider you cast your net, the more quickly you will find a position.
Persistence pays off in an out-of-town job search as does accurate record keeping and follow through. Cast a wide net and understand your first job may not be the “perfect fit.” Once you are hired, you can develop skills and contacts that will lead to the next job. Remember that the Career Development Office can help you every step of the way, and we look forward to working with you.