Preparing your materials for an internship or job opening is really about marketing yourself.  You want to show the employer that you have not only the skills to get the job done but that you will also fit into their internal culture.  In order to market yourself, you need to learn about the firm or organization you are applying to, and you need to identify what they will be looking for in an employee.  The more targeted your materials are to that particular firm or organization, the more likely it is that you will land an interview.  Here are a few tips that will assist you in researching the “market” that will help you “target” your materials to get the results you desire.

  • Use Westlaw, LexisNexis and the internet to find out about the firm, their attorneys, their cases, and any recent news items about the employer.
  • Really read and review the job description.  Decipher the skillset the employer wants.  If the position is for an entry level attorney in a specific area of law, review other ads for that same specialty area in other firms around the country.  Comparing the different descriptions will help you identify the common skills necessary for that practice area.
  • Look on the firm’s website and read the bios of the attorneys working for the firm, particularly in your area of interest.  What did they choose to highlight in their bios?  What path did they take to get to the job you want?  This information will give you insight on how to prepare yourself.
  • Next, talk to people.  Talk to alumni and other attorneys in that particular practice area from other firms.  Find out what their day is like, what skills they need, and what they feel are the important tools of the trade. If possible talk to other attorneys or alumni in the firm you are applying to from different practice areas, to learn about the firm’s specific culture.

Once you have completed your research you will be prepared to target your materials, to develop a theme that will catch the attention of the firm.  Review your resume and cover letter and look for opportunities to present yours skills and experience in the way that will most interest the employer. Use active verbs to describe your abilities and showcase your experience.  Add examples designed to “match” what you know the employer is looking for so that the employer will see how you would fit in. Creating a well-written, visually attractive resume that targets the skills the employer is looking for is the first step in landing the interview.