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As technology advances and changes continue to impact the legal profession, one constant remains: Legal professionals with strong interpersonal skills are among the most successful in their careers.
The same is true when it comes to conducting a legal job search. Your ability to positively and effectively interact with others can help you find and secure the best legal jobs. Here are four tips to help you leverage your soft skills in your legal job search:
1. Create opportunities to network.
Joining professional associations to interact with legal professionals can help you uncover unadvertised legal jobs. During chapter meetings and other activities, you’ll be able to connect in a less formal way and showcase different aspects of your skill set and personality. This, in turn, will encourage people to open up about a variety of topics — quite possibly including job openings they know about. If you're just beginning your career, networking can help you hone your soft skills; a mentor, in particular, can provide insight into the communication habits of successful professionals.
2. Communicate your value.
Your soft skills can also help you promote yourself during a legal job search without bragging. There’s a fine art to this, but the more you work on active listening and clear communication, the easier it will be to find opportunities to talk about your accomplishments in a natural way. For example, you could congratulate a colleague who just played an important role in obtaining a favourable court ruling and relate how you felt when you achieved something similar. Just remember to turn the focus back around to your colleague’s accomplishment to avoid stealing the spotlight.
3. Give examples of your soft skills during job interviews.
Go beyond the usual “I have great communication skills” and present anecdotes that demonstrate your flair for tapping your soft skills. For example, you could talk about a time in a previous role when you helped a client accept a necessary compromise or relinquish a grievance that lacked legal merit.
Here’s another way to demonstrate your soft skills in the interview: Prepare ways to answer the common questions, but don't assume you’ve been heard the way you intended. After responding, actively ask for feedback. “Have I answered your question?” is a simple but effective tool. It shows humility and a sincere interest in the interview process.
4. Remember that you’re always “on.”
Don’t save showcasing your soft skills for the job search. Make the most out of every professional exchange by adding something of value to every conversation. Take an active interest in others; make an effort to focus on the topics that matter to them, both professionally and personally. Listen to their points of view, and offer thoughtful comments and help whenever possible. You never know when the person you’ve just met might turn out to be a future colleague or a client of your next employer.
Soft skills like active listening can prompt others to view you more favourably, but don't forget: This isn’t about using tricks to manipulate perceptions. Be sincere and use your soft skills to find opportunities to project positivity, find common ground and make valuable connections. When you do, finding great legal jobs will come naturally.