Well, students, it’s the second most anticipated time of the year: time for the on-campus interview and articling recruitment. At this point, you have turned outline writing into cover-letter writing and have made your CV a flawless, paper representation of yourself. While this time of year can be stressful, fear not. There are basic, stress-controlling techniques and writing tips to help with the job search.
Why are OCIs and articling recruitments so stressful?
Law students want a to obtain a well-paying job that also fits their interests and passions. The OCI and articling process is a great way to find that job through a simplified job-searching process, as it provides a large database of employers accepting applications, with the OCI positions often leading to articling with potential of hire-back for the following year.
The necessity of articling and the competitiveness of the process create pressure on candidates to secure a position with hire-back potential. In addition to the mounting pressure, the process of compiling applications while working or attending courses in the summer is time consuming and the idea of interviews sends some into jitters. However, there are ways to control the stress and ways to work on putting your best self forward.
How to deal with the stress
While these processes can seem overwhelming, remember there are a number of ways to effectively deal with the stress. It is important to remember to stay true to yourself, exercise, eat nutritiously and sleep. Take breaks from compiling applications when necessary and create a schedule that allows you to achieve your goals in a timely manner. Additionally, it helps to be well acquainted with your CV and cover letter and put your best work forward.
Stay true to yourself
It is important to avoid getting wrapped up in the competitiveness of the process. In order to do this, it helps to evaluate what your definition of success is by envisioning what is important to have in your future and remembering your reasons for attending law school. Then, define and work toward your own personal definition of success. By doing this, you will know which firms and positions will help you achieve your goals and you will, in turn, come across as more genuine in the application process.
Exercise, nutrition and sleep
To quote Elle Woods of the 2001 film Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Elle was on to something. According to Krista Stryker of mindbodygreen.com, exercise causes a release of endorphins that, over time, help the body become better at handling stress. But exercise also provides other benefits as it releases dopamine, increases confidence and energy and fights insomnia.
Exercise can be as simple as walking your dog or hitting the gym with a friend.
In addition to exercise, adequate nutrition and sleep will help your body stay energized, well rested and prepared to put your best self forward during this process.
Creating a schedule ensures the completion of tasks in a timely manner, assures there are no missed deadlines and allows for adequate time to complete applications and to obtain documents, such as transcripts and letters of reference. When creating a schedule, include details such as goal amounts of time to spend on an application, work production goals and important deadlines. Leave plenty of time in the schedule to complete your work and don’t forget to schedule breaks to let yourself rest and have some fun! Calling up friends or walking the dog can help make the most of the break time and aid in destressing!
Keep calm and write that cover letter
While at a reception, I overheard a student recruiter discuss how a generic cover letter does not leave a lasting impression. While that is one person’s opinion, the cover letter is a very valuable piece of your application. A cover letter should leave a positive and lasting impression, be genuine and briefly encapsulate who you are as a candidate. Further, it should include information such as your year and objective in applying, why you want to work at the firm to which you are applying and what you have learned through your past experiences. In writing the cover letter, feel free to mention what you like about the firm (notably, if you have visited) and what practice areas the firm offers that would interest you. For best results, ensure the cover letter is precise, organized, coherent, contains no spelling or grammatical errors, has no typos and contains the correct addresses, dates and names of both firms and recruiters.
If crafting a CV from scratch, there are great templates online that will give you an idea of formats and the information to include. However, it would be advisable to seek assistance of your CSO once you have a rough copy prepared, as it can address the smaller details and help to create your best CV. Again, the same rules apply: Be honest and double check for any typos, spelling, grammar and formatting issues.
After finishing the applications but before submitting, have people you trust look over your work or book an appointment with your CSO to review your documents and make sure things are looking good. Then, always remember to breathe. This is a challenging but exciting time, so sit back, do your best to relax and enjoy the process for all that it is.