A recent survey of OsgoodePD graduates found that 92% of students pursued graduate studies with the primary goal of career change or development.
At OsgoodePD, our unique student body is made up of individuals from a wide array of professional and educational backgrounds, and so we strive to provide an equally wide variety of opportunities for career development. Students have access to Osgoode’s career services portal, opportunities to participate in networking events (ever heard of Osgoode’s Internationally Trained Lawyers Day?), and eligibility for complimentary and discounted CLE programs. Students can also benefit from one-on-one advising appointments (offered during the daytime and evening, in-person and online), with our experts who can help with resume and cover letter review, mock interviews, job search strategies, and more.
Today, one of our experts, Michael Tam, shares some top tips for success. In his role as Program Lawyer at OsgoodePD, Michael plays a key role in recruitment, admissions, academic advising, and career counselling. He has over a decade of experience reviewing and assessing resumes, cover letters, and applications. Michael has developed a unique understanding of what employers are looking for, what catches their attention, and how applicants can make themselves stand out. OsgoodePD students regularly benefit from his advising.
So what does Michael typically recommend to current and prospective students?
It’s rare to get feedback on job applications from employers, so getting constructive feedback from a career advisor is invaluable. At OsgoodePD, students can make as many appointments as they’d like throughout the program, which allows for constructive feedback on multiple drafts, applications, or skills.
It’s always good to be self-critical, and I think people get so used to writing resumes, cover letters, and applications in the way that they’ve always done that it’s rare for them to revisit their strategies.
It’s worth going through your cover letter and resume in detail to see if they’re achieving what you want them to achieve – especially when you are embarking on a particular practice area, or in a new jurisdiction with different job search strategies.
Develop your written advocacy skills.
As a legal professional, you have to have good oral and written advocacy skills, and a job application is an example of those skills.
One of the most frequent mistakes I see concerns applicants who are either too general or overly broad in their resume and/or cover letter. Their logic is that they can keep it short in the initial application documents and will provide more detail in an interview. But, if they can’t convince an employer on paper that they’re a standout candidate, they never get the opportunity to explain it in person at an interview.
Similarly, another common mistake concerns a lack of connection between the job they’re applying for and their previous experience. It’s crucial to clearly illustrate how previous experience is relevant to the new position. Lots of applications are written that list out everything someone has ever done and put it to the reader to figure out why that person is a good fit. That’s not good written advocacy. Every point on a resume and every paragraph on a cover letter should be written to catch the reader’s attention and prove why that candidate should be hired.
Build a network.
Legal education and the legal profession can be isolating and frustrating. The best way to get through it is by building your own community. You’ll need supporters and advocates throughout your education, and mentors throughout your career, and so it’s just as important to have that in a time of career change or job hunting.
Building a network can be difficult, and if you’re not the type of person who feels comfortable taking the lead to meet new people, it can be hard to start. However, once you start saying ‘yes’ to opportunities and building relationships, you’ll be amazed by how many new doors open.
These are great tips to get anyone started on pursuing their career and we are pleased to help our students follow through on them!
If you’re looking to learn more about Osgoode’s Professional LLM and how it can serve both your personal and professional goals, consider registering for an Info Session. Have an application in progress? Login to continue your application.