While a standard mass mailing can be very haphazard and mostly worthless, a good targeted mailing can be one of the most worthwhile and efficient means of finding your next legal job. And that is exactly what Legal Authority specializes in.
Why Targeted Mailing Works
We have all received unsolicited direct mail; most of us receive such mail on a daily basis. We can recognize ''junk mail'' instantaneously, and most of it goes straight into the trash bin. The businesses that carry out direct mailing campaigns would not keep spending money on such campaigns if they were unprofitable. Yet, we continue to receive direct mail from the same credit card companies, Internet service providers, local stores, membership clubs, and the like. Clearly, there must be something working for these businesses if they continue to find such mailings to be worth the expense.
Here's an illustration of how and why targeted mailing works: Big National Bank sends out unsolicited credit card applications to individuals who, by virtue of their credit histories, have developed credit scores above a certain number. You and your neighbor both receive applications. Your neighbor has no interest in a new credit card at that time; he immediately tosses his application in the trash. However, you are unhappy with the interest rates on your credit cards, and you have been considering getting a new one. You glance quickly at the application and notice that the interest rate is lower than what you pay on your current credit cards. You think about it for a little while, and then you decide to fill out the application for Big National Bank's low-interest credit card.
In the job-search process, your position is similar to Big National Bank's position. You have something to offer to legal employers. Your interest is in finding those employers that have a need for exactly what you have to offer. If your piece of mail reaches them at the right time, they will read it more carefully and hopefully act on it.
If a hiring partner, recruiting coordinator, or corporate executive has a hiring need at a particular time, he or she will look at any resume that crosses his or her desk. If the individual has skills or experiences that match the needs of the firm or company, the employer will follow up. What matters is the timing of your letter, as well as the fit between your skill set and the needs of the firm or company at that time.
It is important to realize that only a small fraction of employers will have hiring needs for someone with your particular qualifications on the exact day that your cover letter and resume arrive. Your results will vary depending on the legal market, your skill set, the individual whims of various hiring contacts, and many other factors. Thus, it is particularly important for you to target your mailing to those employers most likely to need what you have to offer.
A targeted mailing campaign takes mass mailing to the next level. Traditionally, mass mailing has involved randomly targeting every potential employer in a geographical area (using the phone book or an Internet directory) and sending each one of them a bland generic cover letter (addressed to ''To Whom It May Concern'') along with a resume. However, targeted mass mailing is much more than this. It takes the traditional mass-mailing format and improves it in several ways:
Of course, all this is far easier said than done. In fact, it may seem a daunting task to even begin thinking of tailoring such a large list so specifically. And in reality, if one were to try to do it on his or her own, it would indeed be a daunting task, albeit not an impossible one. Your best bet is to subscribe to a service that does all of this for you. While such services are not inexpensive, they pay for themselves in the time saved and the chances of finding your next job. Of course, this is what Legal Authority does.
It refines the list of potential employers, targeting only those that fit your specific skill set.
It expands the employer list to include not only the names of firms and companies, but also the names of specific contacts at each firm or company.
It allows the cover letters that are sent with each resume to appear personalized, even if they are generic.
Targeted mailing exposes opportunities for you outside the cutthroat competition that you face when you respond to advertised positions. Remember, when you respond to an advertisement on a job board, everyone seeking a job at that time is responding to that very same advertisement. By conducting a targeted mailing, you present yourself to all organizations that may have hiring needs. They will see what you have to offer. They may or may not be hiring, but they may consider hiring you once they see your resume. Either way, they will at least be aware of what you have to offer, in a context in which you are not in competition with every other job-seeker and his brother. A resume that appears on a desk as a result of a targeted mailing is very different from a huge stack of resumes (one of which happens to be yours) that appears on a desk in response to an advertised position.
It is worth stressing another unique advantage of targeted mailing. In addition to exposing unadvertised job openings, targeted mailing can actually create new job openings just for you. When you do a targeted mailing, you present your skills and interests to people who make hiring decisions. They may not have been planning to hire anyone at that time. But if they think that someone with your skills and experiences could help them, they just might invite you for an interview.
Whether by exposing you to unadvertised openings or by creating new opportunities just for you, a targeted mailing strategy can only work to your advantage. While some law firms and companies advertise open positions for attorneys, more than 85% of legal jobs are not advertised. They are not advertised on job boards, in classified ads, or even with legal recruiters. Many of these unadvertised positions are with great employers. More important, many of these unadvertised positions may perfectly match your own particular interests and goals. It is quite likely that the position that is perfect for you won't be found on a job board or in the classified section.
Meanwhile, it is just as likely that the perfect employer will be missed by a random mass mailing you might send out. Or the perfect employer may receive your resume and cover letter, but because the resume and cover letter are not personalized, the employer won't realize how perfectly you fit that organization's needs.
One of the keys to a successful job search is to tap into the vast market of unadvertised positions, while at the same time making sure that you reach those specific firms that interest you most. Legal Authority has a comprehensive and up-to-date database of employers and hiring contacts and can help you focus your mailing based on your desired practice areas, geographic markets, and types and sizes of legal employers, so that you can be sure to reach your desired audience. Thousands of lawyers have discovered that this is an extremely valuable and efficient job-search strategy. When other tactics have failed, well-tailored targeted mailings have yielded wonderful results.
Legal Authority is based upon the following principle: Contact every employer in a given market matching your interests, and you will (1) find every available position and (2) interview and go to work at the place that best matches what you are seeking. It is not uncommon for attorneys and law students using Legal Authority to evaluate more than 10 job offers before making a decision. Legal Authority has assisted all types of legal job-seekers, including well-known partners from major American law firms, General Counsels of major corporations, and thousands of law students every year at every law school-accredited and unaccredited.
Remember, most legal jobs are not advertised. It's up to you to find them.
What Legal Authority's Clients Think of Targeted Mailing
''I tried my own mailing, but marketing myself did not work. The counselor I spoke with explained how sending out 20 or 30 letters randomly isn't even worth my time. I turned the reins over to Legal Authority, and you helped me send out 560 letters throughout the Bay Area. I got six interviews and a solid offer. The firm is great, and I never would have found it my way.''
''I was doing litigation and hated it but saw no hope of moving into health care law. Legal Authority gave me a lot of hope and confidence when you said it could be done. I mailed 300 letters, got 26 interviews and three offers, and ended up in a big firm I thought was beyond my reach.''
''I did a NYC search in environmental/energy and got several offers in the $100K+ range. I am of course thrilled, and I have recommended Legal Authority to my classmates.''
''I already have 11 interviews lined up, and the calls still keeping pouring in for more. All this has happened only three weeks after I sent out the personalized mailings that Legal Authority prepared for me.''
''I wanted to be a litigator, but didn't have experience, and didn't think I could compete with people from prestigious law schools. I got four interviews and four offers.''
''The service provided by Legal Authority was excellent. I am thoroughly satisfied. I received from 10-15 calls by firms seeking an interview. I went on about 10 interviews. I decided to take a position with a family law firm that is about 10 minutes from my home. I am extremely happy.''
To understand how a service like Legal Authority can help you or so that you may determine how to do your own targeted mailing, the sections that follow will explain the dynamics of tailoring your mass mailing.
Refining the List of Employers
When doing a mass mailing, it is both very inefficient and ineffective to simply send out a resume to any employer in your geographical area of interest. It is also very time consuming. In all, do-it-yourself mass mailing is not an exciting endeavor. However, by refining your search parameters to closer match your skill set, you will at least make the mailing more effective and efficient should you choose to do it yourself.
Refining your search entails defining your specific skill set. What type of law do you want to practice? For what type of firm or company would you like to work? Depending on whether you are looking for employment with a law firm or with a company as an in-house counsel, you will want to structure your skill set accordingly.
If you are looking to work in a law firm, you will want to know in which practice areas you would consider working. If you have found a deep-rooted love for defense litigation, for example, you will want to target firms that focus on this practice area. If you loathe entertainment law, you will want to be sure not to target any firms that focus only on entertainment law.
Of course, the question always arises about which firms you should exclude from your job search. Should you exclude a firm simply because it lists a practice area with which you are uncomfortable among other practice areas that you may wish to target?
The answer is a clear and resounding NO. If you were to look only for employers who specialized only in your specific practice areas, then your employer list would be rather short, limited mainly to a few boutiques. Remember that mass mailing is always a numbers game. The more resumes you send out, the more chances you have of getting called in for an interview, and hence, the more likely you are to obtain a job offer. By over-limiting your search, you limit your chances.
So what do you do? You send your resume out to all the potential employers that list your desired practice area(s). What difference will it make to you if they are boutiques specializing in your favorite practice area or if you would be the only attorney in their firms working in that area? Either way, your cover letter and resume will make it clear in which practice area you desire to work (and for which you are qualified), and thus, you will not have to worry about being hired on for a practice area you despise. And any job offer is better than none, even if it's not exactly what you wanted. You can always turn it down.
Of course, figuring out which practice area a firm works with is not always easy. Some firms, especially the larger ones, may work in 30 different practice areas, but perhaps the specific office you are applying to focuses on only 5 of those. Or as often happens, many firms will list some practice areas on a public general directory website, such as Martindale.com, while presenting a slightly different list on their own website. The reasoning behind this is simple-many firms don't want to limit what they practice, or perhaps they lost one or more practice groups to a lateral move, etc. Consider the fictitious, yet common, example below:
All in all, it's a numbers game. Send your resume to as many potential employers as possible, regardless of whether or not you are 100% sure that they are exactly what you are looking for.
John is an accomplished real estate associate relocating to Seattle from Los Angeles. He wants to continue practicing real estate law, but knows that there will be fewer real estate firms in Seattle than in L.A. He tailors his search toward real estate law anyway, targeting any firm that lists real estate law on its website or on a public page. Several of these firms list it only on public pages, and their websites have no mention of real estate. One such firm is McConnely, Kineagar & Phelps. The local hiring partner receives John's resume and is impressed by his experience. However, McConnely, Kineagar & Phelps ended its real estate practice six months before, when its only real estate partner moved to another firm. Despite this, the hiring partner sees that John could probably bring in business with his credentials. He decides to interview John and then hires him to restart the firm's real estate practice.
You may ask, then, why you should even refine your search according to practice area. The answer is that by doing so, you can refine your resume and cover letter to focus specifically on the practice area(s) that you would like to work in. That way, your letter and resume will not seem so generic. Potential employers will also be impressed that you took the time to research their firms' practices.
Many attorneys have specific preferences regarding the size of the firm that they would like to work for. Some prefer the opportunities presented in large-firm environments. Others would rather enjoy the friendly feel of small firms. I am not going to advise you on which one is better; it's all just a matter of personal preference. However, I will advise you to decide and to integrate that decision into your targeted mass mailing.
If you want a small firm, apply to one with a maximum number of attorneys that you define as your preference. If you want a large firm, choose a minimum number. Or choose a specific range if you are very clear on what you want. This, however, brings up an interesting question: Should you go by overall firm size or by the size of the local office?
The answer is clear. With any targeted mass mailing, you are applying to local offices in your geographical area of choice. That means that you are sending a resume to the hiring contact at that local office, not to the regional or national hiring director. You will thus be considered primarily for that office. Therefore, regardless of the size of the firm as a whole, tailor your search according to the size of each local office.
If you do it any differently, you will run into several problems. The most common occurs with those wishing to work in a large-firm environment, where they are in a large office surrounded by many fellow attorneys. However, when they apply to the local office, they may find that that particular office only has two or three attorneys. It is therefore very different from what they actually want.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a small-firm environment, you can find it in a local office of a large firm if that local office has very few attorneys. While the approach is certainly not perfect, it is better than finding the exact opposite of what you were looking for. Plus, this allows you to send your resume to more offices. Once again, this is all a numbers game.
Becoming an in-house counsel is no easy task. It is important that those seeking such positions keep open minds. However, there are a few ways to refine an in-house search.
Target all companies, not just those that have counsels
About the worst thing you can do in an in-house search is to target only those companies that already have in-house counsels. Think about it. Unless you are only sending your resumes to Fortune 500 companies, how many of the companies that you will be targeting will have more than one counsel in their local offices? That means that many of the companies you send your resume to will already have one counsel and may not wish to add another.
Of course, you should still send your resume to these companies. Who knows if they have been having problems with their existing counsel and are looking to replace him or her? It doesn't hurt for you to try; many legal jobs are found this way.
You really must, however, set a minimum company size. This can be done by examining revenues. For instance, perhaps you will send your resume only to those companies that have $5 million or more per year in revenues. Keep in mind, however, that many companies misreport their revenues on public listings, or many public listings extrapolate revenues when the company is not forthcoming with an exact figure. Thus, it is often a better idea to search according to number of employees. However, you then run into the problem of actually finding that information, even if it is more accurate.
Either way you choose to do it, setting a minimum company size will allow you to target all companies that have enough money and operations to afford an in-house counsel, and need one, regardless of whether or not they already have one.
So what happens when you send your resume to a company that doesn't already have an in-house counsel? Well, they may very well reject you, and you have really lost nothing if they do. However, perhaps they have been looking for a counsel, or perhaps the CEO or General Manager sees your resume and decides the office needs a counsel. Consider the fictitious example below:
The same principle holds true for companies as for law firms. Target the local offices. If a local office of a large or small company has high revenues, it is very likely to hire its own counsel. Don't go by the revenues or employee sizes for the company as a whole; you may end up sending your resume to an office that only has two employees and $100,000 a year in revenues.
Fred is looking to transition from his law-firm-partner position into the role of in-house counsel in the Houston area. He sends his resume out in a carefully targeted mass mailing. The first 50% of his mailing is to offices that already have counsels. The other 50% is to offices that don't. One of the latter, Purple Mountain Majesty Exporters has never had a counsel in its Houston office. However, the counsel in the main office is always busy, and the Houston office is one of the company's rising stars. The local General Manager sees the resume and proposes to the regional Vice President that they hire a counsel specifically for that office. The VP agrees, and the GM calls Fred in for an interview.
Target the industries that you prefer, but be open
If you are an environmental nut, you won't want to go work for a strip-mining company. On the other hand, if you think strip mining is a good thing, you won't want to go work for an environmental organization dedicated to stopping it. While an extreme example, this illustrates the point that you should think about which industries you are targeting.
If it really doesn't matter to you what kind of company you work for, send your resume to all of them. But for many, it does matter. Use industry descriptions and Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes to limit your search to those companies that specialize in things you feel comfortable with. This will also allow you to more specifically tailor your resume and cover letter.
Of course, the same rule applies here as to practice areas with law firms. Industry descriptions and SIC code listings are not always 100% accurate (in fact, they almost never are). Don't be discouraged if your resume gets sent out to a company in a different industry. Remember that any job offer is better than none. It's all a numbers game.
Finding the Name of a Contact at Each Potential Employer
Conducting a mass mailing addressed to ''To Whom It May Concern'' is grossly ineffective. It lacks any personal touch and is immediately labeled as a mass mailing. Remember that the point is to make a potential employer think that you are not doing anything generic, that you have specifically researched and targeted it.
Thus, it is vitally important to find the names of contacts at the firms or companies to which you wish to send your resume. A cover letter addressed to ''Mr. Jones'' is infinitely more effective than one addressed to ''HR/Recruiting Coordinator.''
So you may ask to whom in particular you should be sending your resume. You may automatically think about the HR or recruiting director. This, however, is sometimes a mistake. While it certainly makes the most sense procedurally, just think about how many resumes the HR or recruiting director sees every day. Your resume stands a better-than-average chance of being simply filed away.
If, however, you send your resume to a partner (especially a hiring partner) or to the top executive at a company's local office, you have a better statistical chance. Fewer resumes come across their personal desks. And if they look at your resume and like it, they'll forward it along to the HR or recruiting director themselves. And think of how much more attention the HR or recruiting director will pay to a resume forwarded by the General Manager, the Hiring Partner, or the CEO.
It is important to take the time to find the best person to whom to send your resume. If you don't have this information, look it up or invest in a service such as Legal Authority that has already done the research for you. Remember, personalization shows your interest and diligence regarding the company to which you are applying.
Reaching the right person is particularly difficult in the rapidly changing legal market. Most print and Internet listings of legal employers (even Martindale-Hubbell) are hopelessly out-of-date and incomplete. If you wanted to ensure that your letter would reach the best possible hiring contacts, you would need to research every single firm or every single company to find up-to-date contact information for their hiring partners and/or recruiting coordinators. On the other hand, Legal Authority does all this work for you.
Legal Authority's database contains more than 2 million legal employers. This includes virtually every law firm, corporation, city, county, judge, public interest organization, prosecutor, public defender, law school, association, embassy, representative, congressman, and other organization in the United States that employs legal professionals. The database is maintained 24 hours a day by a staff of more than 50 dedicated legal researchers working all over the world. On a daily basis, we add or modify more than 1,500 hiring contacts by calling, researching, and consulting hundreds of printed and online sources. Once we have the data in our database, a staff of sophisticated programmers and editors pores over this data, analyzing it for accuracy.
From this comprehensive database, Legal Authority will focus your search based on desired practice area, geographic market, and type and size of legal employer. You can be confident that your resume will appear on the desk of the correct hiring contacts at the firms or companies that you want to reach. The savings in time and effort from using Legal Authority, as well as the significant improvement in your chances of reaching the right hiring person at the right time, make the investment worth every penny.
Customizing and Personalizing Your Resume and Cover Letter
This is the goal of refining your search and finding the name of the contact at each firm or company. By customizing and personalizing your resume and cover letter, you will be aiming right at what the potential employers in your job search may be looking for. You are aiming right at whatever you want to do.
The next chapter will detail how to make this work.