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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.