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Archive for the ‘Juriscape Articles’ Category

By Emily Sanderson — 2008

In this recession applying for a legal job is a numbers game.  The frequency with which you research and submit your resume and cover letter to law firms, general counsel, and judiciaries often determines how quickly you will find a job.  However, by following up with those you have targeted, you increase your chances of placement tenfold.

You’ve worked with Attorney Resume to prepare a winning resume and cover letter, but what are the steps now to reach your goal?

At Attorney Resume, many of our clients subscribe to LawCrossing, the most comprehensive electronic legal job board in the United States.  A number of our clients also work with another of our sister companies, Legal Authority, which provides contacts as well as printed resumes and cover letters for targeted mailings to potential employers.

People spend a lot of money searching for jobs, and it’s no wonder.  Each month that you are unemployed you are losing money.  For example, if your average salary in the last five years has been $120,000 per year, you are losing $10,000 a month in lost wages.  Looking for a new job placement is worth the investment, not only of money but also of time and energy.  You are not just looking for any job placement, but one that will be a terrific fit and will last for years to come.

You’ve spent time and resources searching a website such as LawCrossing for job announcements and have prepared a focused resume and cover letter, but even though you’ve mailed or emailed a winning resume and cover letter you’re not done yet.  Follow up with a phone call or email.

What to Say

Before you call you will want to prepare a few notes about what you will say.  The following points provide some guidelines.

1. Do your research.

Many legal entities have websites that provide information about their practice areas and activities.  Learn as much as you can about the law firms or legal departments to which you are submitting your resume.  Note your transferable skills that will add to the legal entity, and use that information both in your cover letter  and when you call.

2. Record your voice.

This may seem silly, but take the time to listen to yourself the way others hear you.  Spend some time practicing your intonations and which words you emphasize.  If you raise your pitch at the end of saying your name and at the end of each sentence, you could come across as nervous and unsure.  Make sure you speak clearly and pleasantly.

3. Prepare a word-for-word speech.

Don’t be afraid to prepare a word-for-word introductory sentence or two.  Prepare something you will say to a receptionist or secretary, and prepare something you will say to an executive.

Always be cordial to secretaries and receptionists — they often hold the keys to giving you access to an executive.  Be very polite but assertive as well.  Don’t schmooze, as that is easily detectable as fake; be sincere instead.

Make sure to listen carefully for signals.  If a secretary answers with a rushed tone, that is usually indicative that you are working with a busy office.  Secretaries screen calls all day for their bosses, and the way that you will be different from the salesmen is that you have already submitted information for them to review.  Offer to email another copy of your resume and cover letter if they have misplaced it or if human resources has not yet sent it over.

Be confident that you have very legitimate and important business to conduct with executives.  After all, you will ultimately save them money because of the skills, enthusiasm, and innovative spirit that you are offering.

Prepare two or three selling points about yourself — ways that you have saved a former employer money and ways that you would save them money.  Talk about your skills, such as your ability to develop rapport with clients or your excellent research and writing skills.  Offer to email them a copy of a paper you have published.

Conclusion.

Often, potential employers, upon receiving your resume and cover letter in the mail or by email, will give your documents between 15 to 30 seconds of their time, and follow-up will buy you a little more time.  However, make sure your documents are easily accessible, well organized, and free from misspellings or errors in punctuation or grammar.

I can help you prepare a winning resume and cover letter that emphasize your skills and experience in coordination with your present career outlook.  We will help you with formatting, organizing, and strategically wording the information in your resume and cover letter for the best results.

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By Emily Sanderson — 2008

Think of your resume and cover letter as a business proposal packed with statements of how much money you generated for a previous employer or how you have made operations more efficient.  Consider yourself as a lean, mean, profit-making machine.

It’s personal when you leave a company, whether you want it to be or not.  You have invested a lot of time and energy in the job you are leaving.  You have gotten familiar with a work routine and with the personalities of the individuals with whom you interact.

Choosing a new employer is also a huge decision that will impact your life.  However, by gearing your job search toward strategic, profit-oriented, bean-counting business aspects, you will maintain an empowered stance that will give you confidence and help you stand above your competition.

Your resume is not a memoir, an autobiography, an epitaph, or a record of added belt notches.  It is a business proposal for a potential employer that discusses what you can do for him or her in conjunction with your present career focus.

Your resume provides a summary of your qualifications, experience, education, and skills gained.  It provides examples of your specific accomplishments.  Your cover letter discusses your interest in the company to which you are applying and emphasizes the highlights of your resume in reference to your relevant transferable skills.  The better your research on a company, the more impressively you can prepare your resume and cover letter to pique the interest of company management.

The purpose of your resume and cover letter is simply to get you a first interview.  These documents are intended to persuade them to consider you as a viable candidate for the position they seek to fill.  And they need you to be a lean, mean, profit-making machine.  Use your resume and cover letter to show them that you mean business.

Resumes and cover letters are communication tools, which, when well written, use inferences and signifiers that indicate what you want to say indirectly.  For example, you want to get across that you are sophisticated without sounding snooty.  You want to say that you are immediately available for work without sounding desperate, and you want to say that you know a lot about the type of work their firm does in a subtle, nonchalant, and confident manner.

Some of my clients have strategically worded their resumes and cover letters with particular audiences in mind, considering questions that phrases or sentences might provoke, both while potential employers are reviewing their resumes and during interviews with potential employers.  Then they have prepared appropriate answers to those questions.  The following are some basic tips for applying winning communication tools in crafting your resume and cover letter as well as down the road in your phone exchange and in an interview.

1. Keep your language positive.

Never speak ill of your former employer.  Never speak ill of yourself or your performance.  Always present yourself with as much confidence as you can.  You should be able to do this without lying about your past.  Nevertheless, you should always be sincere and geninue.

In an interview, figure out a smooth way to change the subject if they ask you direct questions for which you don’t have positive answers, but prepare a few compliments you can spout off about those with whom you have worked in the past.  And do your very best to leave on good terms when you need to move on to a new job.  Don’t simply ask if you can use your boss or colleague as a reference; ask him or her to prepare a general letter of recommendation that you can submit to potential employers.

2. Keep your cover letter brief and to the point.

Your cover letter should serve the primary purpose of being a transmittal interface.  Remember that potential employers give each resume and cover letter abour 15 to 20 seconds of their time at first glance, so make good use of that time.

In the first paragraph, you should explain that your purpose in writing is to express interest in a position with the company.  The body of your letter should discuss the highlights of your resume which exemplify the transferable skills and accomplishments that you have to offer the company.  Your closing paragraph should request an action from the reader, such as a phone call to schedule an interview at his or her convenience.

3. Your resume should focus on only relevant work experience.

Although you can mention other related work experience, your resume should be tailored to your specific job search as it pertains to your career goals.  It can also be arranged to emphasize the experience most relevant to the company to which you are applying.

Only include your work experience from the last 10 years unless you have relevant work experience to mention previous to that which emphasizes your transferable skills you would like to use today.  Support old work experience with related transferable skills gained in your more recent employment.  Even if those skills were not the primary focus of your work, they are still legitimate and important to emphasize.

Conclusion.

Your job search is like any other business dealing in your line of work.  It involves both written and verbal communication skills, negotiation, and strategic business objectives, where you will consider financial aspects both on the part of your potential employer and in terms of your own salary.  A job search is more personal than a routine sales pitch, but you will do well to treat it as such.  You have tons to offer, so consider your job search as a chance to shine both in your job interview as well as in how you prepare your resume and cover letter.

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By Emily Sanderson – 2008

Use a profile or statement of qualifications on your resume when a summary of your accomplishments, skills, and career focus would be helpful in guiding potential employers, such as when you are changing career pursuits or entering a new market, whether it be a different geographic area or a different industry sector.  A profile can emphasize transferable skills, those skills you have already gained in your career which make you marketable for your current career pursuits.

Potential employers give your resume an average of 20 seconds upon first review.  That means you want to provide the most pertinent and relevant information in a format that is easy for them to absorb and that will make the best impression of you as a strong and viable candidate.  Placing a profile or statement of qualifications at the top of your resume is one way to summarize this information.

The space on your resume right below your name and contact information is the first section of the resume that potential employers will read, even before your name in some cases.  The information in that space should tell them, in essence, what type of job you are looking for and what you have to offer them.  For example, if you seek to go in a different direction than the work you performed at your most recent place of employment, the account of which would otherwise fill that primary space on your resume, use a profile to draw potential employers to the skills and accomplishments that you would like to emphasize instead.

A chronological resume lists experience and accomplishments under the name of your employer and job title at the time as well as the dates of your employment.  This format presents some limitations in that you can only list those skills used within that particular time period and for that particular employer.  A chronological resume that employs a profile or statement of qualifications will provide perspective to your resume, which will give potential employers a better idea of, for example, patterns in your work history and directions that you have taken in the past in pursuit of your career goals.

Your profile serves as the theme of your resume; construct bullet points in your work history to support it.  Remember that a resume is a marketing tool which many emphasize different parts of your work history for different types of jobs that you are applying for.  Just changing your profile can give your resume a very different feel.

Individuals who are fresh out of college who don’t have a lot of work experience outside of an academic setting can still benefit from using a profile.  At this time of economic uncertainty, profiles should be strategically written not to pigeonhole you but to emphasize your strengths and those skills which could be applied to multiple sectors within your industry.  Better yet, you can prepare a new statement of qualifications for each job for which you apply to emphasize the skills you think they are looking for or which were mentioned in the job announcement.  Nonetheless, also emphasize the range of your experience as well.

A profile uses a different structure than the rest of your resume and cover letter.  The text of the profile is comprised not of sentences but of a series of strategic phrases that include actions and that express enthusiasm and zeal.  Be careful that the profile doesn’t follow a classified ad format — save your career object, if mentioned at all, for the end of the profile.  Remember to stay focused on the interests of the potential employer instead of your own.  The following are a few examples of profiles.

  1. Accomplished human resources generalist with nearly 18 years of experience supporting human resources administration, billing, and office functions with leading oil company.  Demonstrated interpersonal and communication skills and ability to effectively communicate across organizational levels.  Strong commitment to cooperative teamwork; able to adapt quickly to new environments, programs, and situations.  Able to maintain accurate and thorough data to enhance processes.
  2. Corporate, commercial, and trial attorney with expertise in commercial contracts and litigation; franchising and franchise law; banking and finance law; federal, regulatory, and compliance matters; and employment law and defense of EEOC claims.  Adept at managing manufacturing, development, marketing, distribution, and products liability.
  3. Result-oriented and talented professional with strong analytical and strategic planning abilities paired with superior client and project management skills.  Expertise in development promotional materials.  Firmly committed to earning and inspiring rapport and confidence with all members of the team.

Including a profile is an excellent way to summarize your skills and accomplishments and to provide a theme for your resume.

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By Emily Sanderson — 2008

Biomedical engineering jobs involve conducting research for life saving and quality of life-improving devices and technologies.  Individuals who are interested in a biomedical engineering career now have more options for pursuing an education in the field than ever before.

My brother chose to study neurology, and believe me, he has the brains for it, but his first choice would have been biomedical engineering.  However, the latter would have required him to complete a medical degree and then to continue on for a second advanced degree in engineering.  Had he started medical school even a year or two later, education options for a career in biomedical engineering would have changed.

The University of Virginia in Charleston, VA, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in biomedical engineering, programs which provide a marriage between the study of medicine and engineering.

“The essential premise behind biomedical engineering is that the application of engineering to medicine will benefit health care.  Not only is engineering used to solve problems in biology, but our increasing understanding of living systems at the cellular and molecular levels suggests that the lessons learned from billions of years of evolution can lead to the design of artificial systems,” says the University of Virginia website.  “Both industry and academia recognize that students with a solid footing in both biology and engineering can contribute in ways that students with traditional engineering training cannot.”

The biomedical engineering graduate program at the University of Virginia provides the following areas of study: cardiovascular bioengineering, biomedical and molecular imaging, cellular and molecular bioengineering, computational systems bioengineering, tissue engineering and biomaterials, neural and bioelectric systems, and musculoskeletal bioengineering.

Perhaps the most famous example of a biomedical engineering device is the Jarvik Artificial Heart, developed by Robert Jarvik and which continues to be used for critically ill heart transplant candidates as a temporary bridge to a transplant, until a natural donor heart becomes available.

Other biomedical devices, or prosthetics, can be internal or external devices which mimic body functions and take the place of them when an individual has experienced a loss.  Veterans of the war in Iraq who lost limbs in battle have improved options today for living normal lives through the development of prosthetic arms and legs that are custom fit for the amputee down to the elastomeric liner, stretchy socks worn between residual limbs and prothetic sockets.

Although the devices development by biomedical engineers can be life saving, from a venture capital point of view, monetary investment into the associated research is risky business.  Medical devices, which can cost billions, can be taken off the market very quickly if a detrimental flaw is detected, since their failure can cost lives.  Nonetheless, individuals who have benefited from a medical device or another advanced medical technology are often eager to fund the work so that others can benefit from an improved quality of life.

As more is discovered about genetics and chemical make up, individuals in this century who participate in biomedical engineering processes will make a significant impact on how humans live.

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By Emily Sanderson — 2008

Multi-agency government species recovery programs to pool funds towards the recovery of species and provide a voice for stakeholders, provide government jobs for biologists, geologists, and other scientists, as well as public officials.

In 2001, a group of angry farmers and ranchers stormed the dam at the Upper Klamath Falls reservoir in southern Oregon when U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBOR) officials turned off the water supply in the name of protecting the habitat of endangered species fish that live in the reservoir.  U.S. Marshals were finally called to the scene to control the crowd that was forcefully demanding that the water be turned back on.

This event received national attention, and it was a catalyst for helping the area develop multi-agency government species recovery programs that have provided cooperation and awareness of the needs of all stakeholders.  In addition, the programs are providing jobs for biologists, geologists, and other scientists, as well as public officials.

The water was turned back on despite the legal right that USBOR had to turn off the water.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) biological opinion in conjunction with the Endangered Species Act gave them authority to do so.  In 2001, drought conditions had reduced reservoir levels, which threatened habitat conditions for two species of fish that were designated as threatened or endangered.  Shutting the water off at the dam would have allowed water levels to rise, which would have reduced the dangerous dissolved oxygen levels in the water and thus reduce the threat to the fish.

However, farmers and ranchers had long standing water rights for the water as designated by the state government.  In addition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had claim on the water because of the endangered coho salmon that used the river below the dam to breed and raise its young.

So who took precedence?  The people or the fish?  And who ultimately had authority to decide?

The office of the President of the United States finally had to step in to conduct an investigation and to offer a solution to the problem.  And, through many talks with all the government agencies and special interest groups with a stake in the situation, the area surrounding Upper Klamath Falls has reached a favorable solution.  Multi-agency species recovery programs, which include local, state, and national  stakeholders, were formed to pool funds towards recovery efforts.  They meet on a regular basis to discuss the viability of the threatened and endangered species in question, which, in the case of Klamath Falls, Ore., include the shortnose sucker and the Lost River sucker.  Farmers and ranchers discovered that threatened and endangered species in the area actually provide a funding source for water-related projects, such as new pipelines, repairs on the dam, and fish ladders that will benefit both the water right owners as well as the fish.

The people in the area are very pleased with what is happening.  Local elected officials have latched on and are providing leadership as well as a voice for the people.  The new programs in Oregon analyzed other existing multi-agency species recovery programs, such as the Upper Colorado River Recovery Implementation Program and the San Juan River Recovery Implementation Program which effect government agencies in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.

These groups consist of biologists from USBOR, USFWS, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, state fish and wildlife agencies, local governments especially water districts, and special interest environmental organizations, and they meet on a regular basis to discuss the following:

  • Restoring habitat along the river for the different life stages of the fish and other native aquatic species at stake.
  • Improving water quality.
  • Funding for better water storage and piping to conserve water.
  • Preventing non-native predatory species from entering fish habitat.
  • Studying the genetic make-up of the threatened or endangered species to research and identify causes for the species’ decline as well as solutions to prevent imperilment.
  • Developing and maintaining fisheries and hatcheries to assist fish populations.
  • Public outreach and awareness of laws.

Multi-agency government species recovery programs, which are not just limited to native aquatic species, help to provide funding for species recovery efforts and a voice for stakeholders.  They provide government jobs for biologists, geologists, and other scientists, as well as public officials.

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By Emily Sanderson — 2008

Individuals trained in a healthcare profession have the promise of a more stable career than more industries because of the promising healthcare needs of the baby boomer generation, which slowly reaches retirement age in the next decade.  The increased life expectancy will also increase demand for healthcare jobs.

Do you seek a career with a steady employer as well as reasonable benefits and possibly a pension? Choose the healthcare industry.  As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement, doctor jobs, nurse jobs, pharmacist jobs, physical therapist jobs, and geriatric specialist jobs will continue to rise.

The oldest baby boomers will celebrate their 65th birthdays in 2011.  In 2030, 26 percent of the U.S. population will be aged 65 or older, compared with 17 percent today, according to government projections.  Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, according to InfoWorld.

However, expect to work in new environments using new technologies.  With the demand for a larger healthcare workforce will come funding to improve existing healthcare services, from developing more accurate tests to making drug prescription refills more convenient for patients.  Funding for medical research will most likely come from the baby boomers themselves.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently outlined a strategy for developing the needed healthcare workforce that the increasing demand will require.

“To meet the needs of our aging parents and grandparents, we need to increase the number of geriatric health specialists — both to provide care for those older adults with the most complex issues and to train the rest of the workforce in the common medical problems of old age,” said Marie Bernard, MD, president of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, as reported by ScienceDaily.com.

In addition to the increased demand, the healthcare workforce will also be affected by significant numbers of healthcare workers nearing retirement age.  According to Leaders in Healthcare, the average age of registered nurses is 47, and a majority of the senior management of hospitals is baby boomer age.  Within the healthcare industry are opportunities for the advancement of qualified individuals to senior level positions within the next decade.

Leaders in Healthcare suggests four areas in which the healthcare industry can address the staffing crunch.  They are:

  • Focus on retention.  An industry that has until now had a surplus of qualified staff has easily been able to terminate employees who were not measuring up, but that will change as the number of healthcare specialists decrease.  Healthcare agencies will need to revisit their employment policies and provide more career growth opportunities.
  • Redesign jobs.  Provide part-time positions for individuals in the baby boomer generation who pass retirement age but who would like to continue working.  In addition, provide accommodations to these staff who, for example, would like to take a lengthy vacation to visit family or to travel.
  • Embrace IT capabilities.  By establishing protocols and improving operations through the use of computer technology, newer, less experienced staff will be able to come into the workforce and perform according to industry need.
  • Transform “virtual care.”  Through advanced computer technology, patients can be monitored in the comfort of their homes, thus requiring fewer staff to monitor the day-to-day needs of long-term patients.

By planning and preparing now for the changing face of the healthcare industry, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other medical providers will be able to fill healthcare job openings.

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By Emily Sanderson — 2008

HVAC specialists who are training in assisting their residential customers to adopt energy and cost efficient methods to improve a home’s air flow are valued by HVAC service companies.

Homeowners may not know the value of replacing a furnace 10 years or older with a newer, more energy efficient furnace, which , in addition to being more environmentally friendly, will really help the pocketbook.  Furnaces are not cheap, so they are often replaced out of necessity, but homeowners will do well to replace these older furnaces rather than to try and repair them.  Although the investment up front can be steep, the financial rewards from a lower energy bill and fewer maintenance costs will come immediately.

“Of the 7.1 million unitary shipments reported by the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) for 2006, approximately 60% were for replacements.  Many of these installations were the result of equipment failures during peak periods (i.e., winter for furnaces and summer for air conditioners),” said the HVAC Quality Installation Specification, a manual provided by the Air Condition Contractors of America (ACCA).

Since equipment failures seem to happen during peak periods, their are often a shortage of qualified technicians, and since customers often want the heating or cooling to be restored quickly, technicians feel the pressure to provide the minimal required service necessary to do the job.  This opens the door for less qualified technicians to earn business who may charge a smaller price but do only a sub-par job, and giving other more qualified technicians a bad name.

“There is a need to establish a raised bar to improve the core competencies of contractors to ensure that quality installations ensue.  This is beneficial not only as a process improvement for contracting businesses, but, more importantly, for fulfilling the needs of building owners/operators in quality installations — comfortable, healthy, safe, energy-efficient indoor environments,” the ACCA Specification document says.

The ACCA, which developed the specification in 2007, has partnered with Energy Star, a government program that provides information to HVAC specialists and homeowners about how to make homes more energy efficient.  In addition to replacing old furnaces, HVAC technicians can recommend to homeowners that they can save a lot of money by insulating their heating and air conditioning ducts as well as by sealing windows and doors.

The new ACCA Specification provides the industry with a universally accepted definition of a quality contractor or a quality HVAC installation and is used as a measuring stick by manufacturers, distributors, contractors, user groups, customers, utilities, environmental groups, associations/professional societies, and governmental agencies.

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