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Friday, November 4, 2016

Use This Template To Write A Networking Email That People Will Be Happy To Respond To

By Mo Chanmugham, Esq.

It can be frustrating when you're looking for a job and no one responds to your networking emails.

I recently spoke to a young attorney who was having a hard time finding a job. To her credit, she wasn't just sending out resumes and waiting for people to call her back, she was going to networking events and sending out emails requesting informational interviews. The problem was that no one was responding to her emails and she was feeling stuck.

I asked her to show me one of her networking emails and I quickly saw what the problem was. Her email was three paragraphs long with her resume attached and sounded more like a generic cover letter than a sincere request to connect. Her email started with who she was, where she went to school, where she had worked, what she had done, and ended with the fact that she was looking for a job and would like to set up an informational interview.

The problem with her email and overall approach was that she was entirely focused on herself and not on the person she was reaching out to. If you want people to respond to your emails follow these guidelines.

You Are Asking For Advice, Not A Job

The guiding principle behind networking conversations during your job search is that you are asking for advice, not a job. While it is clear that you are looking for a job, the general wisdom is that people are more likely to say yes to a conversation if all you want is to ask them for advice. On the other hand, if you are asking for a job and they don't have one to give you then they have no reason to talk to you and you lose out on creating a relationship with someone who could potentially help you in the future.

For example, if you are a lawyer and you are networking with lawyers who do what you want to do one of the best ways to engage them is by asking them about their career story. Questions like, how they got started in this area of law, what do they like about their jobs, what do they find challenging, and what job search advice do they have for a new attorney will allow you to have a meaningful conversation where you get to know them and they see you as a thoughtful and sincere professional that they would feel comfortable referring to a job opportunity.

Keep It Short And Make It Easy For Them To Say Yes

In the sales industry there is saying, "If you confuse people, you lose people", meaning keep it simple. The same is true when asking for help in the job search. When you send a long, boring, generic email to someone you don't know you are more likely to turn them off rather than entice them to want to help you.

Instead, you want to send a short 4-5 sentence email, personalized to your contact by highlighting why you specifically want to talk to them, and requesting an opportunity to speak with them. Here is an example:

"Dear Attorney Smith,

I am a recent graduate of New England Law | Boston and I have a background in finance. I came across your LinkedIn profile while researching attorneys in the Boston area who practice corporate law. I see that you have practiced for several years and would love to ask you a few questions about your career path and how you got to where you are today. Would you have time for a quick 20-minute informational interview via phone in the next few weeks? Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to hearing from you.


Your name"

In this example, you can see that I summarized who I was and why I wanted to connect with this specific lawyer. I did not mention anything about looking for a job but focused on what I wanted to learn about this lawyer. And finally, all I asked for was a 20-minute phone call which most people should be able to fit into their schedule.

If you use this strategy, I'd love to hear how it works for you. Good luck on your job search and happy networking!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Simple 2-Step Formula To Help You Write A Professional LinkedIn Summary

By Mo Chanmugham, Esq.

"I'm so excited to write my LinkedIn summary", said no one ever. That's because most people find it hard to write about themselves. It's an awkward thing to do, especially if you don't know what to say or you don't want to sound like your bragging about yourself.

But the summary section is an important part of your profile that should not be ignored. When recruiters, employers, clients, and colleagues are using LinkedIn to learn more about you, the summary is your opportunity to tell them who you are and why you are someone they should want to get to know better. But with a blank or poorly written summary you run the risk of making a bad first impression and losing an opportunity to your competition.

Last week, I gave a talk at the Boston Bar Association about how to optimize your LinkedIn profile. To prepare, I reviewed the summaries of popular LinkedIn Influencers to see what they were doing right. I was surprised to learn that they were using a simple two-step structure to write their summaries in a way that was clear and impressive without sounding boring or obnoxious. My favorite example was from Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn.

Step 1. Current Snapshot

He begins his summary with a description of what he is doing now. He starts with his years of experience, his current role, and company.

"Internet executive with over 20 years of experience, including general management of mid to large size organizations, corporate development, product development, business operations, and strategy. Currently CEO at LinkedIn, the web's largest and most powerful network of professionals."

What does your current snapshot look like?

Are you a law student? Where do you go to school? What type of law do you want to practice? What do you hope to do after you graduate?

Are you an associate, in-house counsel, or solo practitioner? How long have you been practicing? Where do you work? What area of law do you focus on? What types of clients do you help?

Step 2. Past Experience and Highlights

Then he shares his past experiences at other companies, mainly focusing on the high-level roles and highlights.

"Prior to LinkedIn, was an Executive in Residence at Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. Primarily focused on advising the leadership teams of the firm's existing consumer technology portfolio companies while also working closely with the firm’s partners to evaluate new investment opportunities.

Previously served in key leadership roles at Yahoo! for over seven years, most recently as the Executive Vice President of Yahoo!'s Network Division managing Yahoo's consumer web product portfolio, including Yahoo's Front Page, Mail, Search, and Media products."

What does your past look like?

What did you do prior to law school? What other firms or companies have you worked for? What awards or honors have you received? What are some major professional accomplishments you have achieved?

BONUS: Add some personality to the mix

If you want to really impress the reader and stand out from the crowd, give them a sense of who you are beyond your resume by adding some personal information to your summary. Let them know why you do what you do or what you really care about when it comes to your work.

Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE tells us that he "has always been defined by his zealous love of teaching and commitment to building leaders."

Deepak Chopra MD is "committed to helping to create a more peaceful, just, sustainable, happier and healthy world."

Tony Robbins, speaker and author shares that his "passion has been helping people to BREAKTHROUGH and take their lives to another level - no matter how successful they already are - in the areas that matter most."

By following this simple structure you will have a well-written summary section that will leave any visitor with a great impression of who you are as a professional.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Right Way To Follow-Up After An Interview

By Mo Chanmugham, Esq.

The interview follow-up scenario can feel like a delicate dance between you and the employer. Especially when you know you had a great interview and they told you that you could expect to hear back from them within a few days. But after a few days have passed and you haven’t heard anything from the employer, you can’t help but start to get a little anxious. Is this a bad sign? Should you follow up? What do you say? While you don’t want to come off as annoying or pushy, you do want to find out whether you got the job or not.

In this article, you will learn how to follow up in a professional and appropriate manner so that you don’t turn off the employer.

Ask Them What The Next Steps Are

Generally, at the end of the interview, you will have an opportunity to ask any final questions. This is when you can ask one of the following questions below to find out what the next steps are:

1. What are the next steps in the interview process?

2. What is your timeline for making a hiring decision?

3. Who is the appropriate person I should follow up with regarding next steps?

The answers to these questions will give you a sense of clarity and control about how to follow-up after the interview.

Get Their Business Card

As the interview comes to a close, make sure to ask your interviewer for their business card. You’ll use this information to send them a thank you note. Hand-written thank you notes are always a nice touch but emailed thank you notes are also acceptable.

The secret to writing a good thank you note is to not make it sound like a generic thank you but to personalize it by referencing something from the interview and to use it as an opportunity to reiterate your enthusiasm for the job and why you’re a good fit. Ideally, you should plan to send your thank you note the day after your interview.

Sending A Follow-Up Email

If the deadline to hear back from the employer has come and gone and you’re anxious to find out if you got the job or not, here is what you can do. It’s best not to follow up the day you were supposed to hear from them. Instead give the employer at least a 24 hour grace period. For example, if you were told you would hear back by end of day Monday and you didn’t, then the soonest you should follow up is on Wednesday. While hearing back from the employer might be your top priority, keep in mind that the employer has a lot of other things going on at the office and giving them this grace period shows that you are being respectful and courteous while also expressing your interest in the job.

According to career expert Alison Green, since the timeline you were given has passed you have a good reason to follow-up. Here is a sample email you can use in your outreach:

“ Dear _____, Thank you again for the opportunity to interview with your firm for the associate position. I enjoyed meeting you and the other associates and wanted to reiterate my sincere desire to be a part of your organization. I just wanted to follow up to see if you have a timeline you can share for the next steps in the hiring process. I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.


Your Name”

This example allows you to follow up without being too direct or pushy. Since you’re inquiring about the process and not the hiring decision you are more likely to get a response with an updated timeline if they have not made a decision yet. Ultimately this approach allows you to stay in communication with the employer without pressuring them for an answer.

Friday, August 5, 2016

3 Reasons Why Networking Can Help Recent Grads Find A Job Faster

By Mo Chanmugham, Esq.

Recent law school grads face a difficult challenge when it comes to their job search. Most of the open jobs that they find online are asking for 3-5 years of legal experience that they don’t have. It can be frustrating to spend hours searching for jobs online, sending out carefully tailored cover letters and resumes, and never hear back from a single employer. While online job hunting is the most common job search strategy it certainly is not the only one. In addition to the online job search strategy, grads should dedicate more time to their networking strategy.


I spoke to a recent law school graduate who shared with me how she used her network to get her first job after law school. She wanted to work in family law and she was moving to another state where she didn’t know anyone. She knew networking would help her find a job but she felt intimidated by the process. To get over her fear she worked with her career counselor to learn exactly what she needed to do to build her network. She started by using resources like and LinkedIn to find attorneys who practiced family law in her state. Once she had her list she sent them all introductory emails to and asked if they would be open to having an informational interview. To her delight, most of the attorneys said yes to her request as they remembered what it was like when they were looking for their first job after graduation. In fact, one of those attorneys invited her into their offices for their meeting which ended up lasting almost 3 hours. By the end they offered her a job on the spot which she happily accepted.

The big takeaway here is that networking served as a short cut to getting her first job. By networking, she put herself in front of attorneys who were looking to hire an associate and she was offered a job without having to go through the online application process where her resume would have been one of several other resumes. What she learned was that the job search consists of more than just sending out resumes and hoping someone calls you back. To increase your chances of finding a job it is important to proactively meet with attorneys who do the work that you want to do so that when they are ready to make a hire you stand out from the rest of the crowd.


There are job openings out there right now that you don’t know about because they most likely are being filled by a referral rather than being advertised online. And even if they are advertised online, job seekers that come with a referral are two-thirds more likely to get hired than a non-referred job seekers. From the employer’s perspective this makes their hiring process faster and easier. Rather than having to sift through a stack of resumes and go through rounds of interviews with people they don’t know, they can instead consider a few candidates who come recommended by people that the employer knows and trusts. Being referred to a job gives you instant credibility in the hiring process.

I was working with a young lawyer who wanted to change careers and was considering going back to work in the non-profit sector. I showed her how to use LinkedIn to see if she knew anyone in that field. It turned out that one of her contacts was a consultant in the non-profit industry. She reached out to her contact who was able to refer her to a job at another non-profit agency for a grant writing position. She was ultimately hired for the position that she only learned about through her network.


In my role as a law school career counselor, I talk to employers who are interested in hiring our graduates. Recently I had a conversation with an employer, who had posted a job with our school for a litigation associate with at least 3-5 of experience. This employer was having a hard time finding the right candidate. I asked him what was the most important qualification he was looking for and he said he needed someone who was a fast learner, easy to train, and dependable. He didn’t mention years of experience at all. Coincidentally I had just spoken with a recent grad that was looking for a new job and I knew she had the qualities this employer was looking for. I asked him if he would consider looking at someone with less years of experience and he said yes. I put the recent grad in touch with that employer and he ended up hiring her a week later.

The lesson here is that online job postings are too restrictive for job seekers and employers. There is no flexibility in the online job posting process. Either your resume meets the requirements or they don’t. And if they don’t, the employer has no reason to bring you in for an interview. However when you network you build flexibility into your job search. By talking to people and creating relationships, you have the ability to present yourself in a way that your resume can’t do on its own.

The value of networking when you are looking for a job is undeniable. It can be the difference between finding a job in a month or in a year. Networking can introduce you to opportunities you would have otherwise never known about. And finally, networking allows you to show your value better than your resume could ever do.