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Course Content: Not Just for Tests!

A recent conversation with an HR professional in a law firm had me scratching my head for several reasons.  As this person relayed a ‘series of unfortunate events’ to me that had occurred throughout the recruitment process with a recent applicant who was a former student of mine,  I couldn’t help but wonder: what had happened between the classroom experience and the ‘real world’? 

We spend a lot of time in career preparation classes reviewing case studies and scenarios of classic, and not-so-classic job search mistakes.  We problem solve what ‘should have happened’.  We mock interview, perform countless activities, discuss, quiz and reflect.  And yet, for some reason, all of that learning got checked at the door when this graduate needed it the most!

 

 

Here’s what caused all of the head scratching:

  • Resume is sent out with a phone number that doesn’t have voicemail capacity and an email address where the person is currently employed…awkward (not a strong first impression)
  • That hurdle is cleared with some assistance from both me and the HR professional because the resume is strong – stronger than the two issues noted above (lucky for the applicant)
  • Graduate arrives to the interview…no references in hand (wait, what?)
  • HR professional requests references and one, two, three days pass with no references arriving and no communication from the applicant: Why? It seems the applicant was busy and hoping to get around to in a day or two (a full week after the request had been made! (#nowords)

Even when the job market is hot – as it definitely is for legal assistants and law clerks right now – first impressions still matter and attention to detail DEFINITELY matters!  Though some companies might be willing to hire a warm body to fill a spot and deal with high rates of turnover, most aren’t because the costs are simply too high.  Most recruiters tell me they would rather take a little more time to find someone who is a good fit for their firm knowing that the person is more likely to stay longer and be more productive.

Students and graduates who understand how to transfer their skills and knowledge beyond tests and assignments to real world applications will always make for a great hire!  So too, will students and graduates who can learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others!

 

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Kathleen Stewart

Parent, cart-wheeler, teacher, marathoner.

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