Competition for training contracts is intense, so it is increasingly important to make sure that your applications stands out of the crowd. Here are our five top tops to maximise your chances.
1. Think of your audience
The recruiters who read your application will have a huge stack to get through - as such ensure your answers are concise and to the point. While it can be tempting to write an answer for the question you wish they had asked, you are much better off telling them what they actually want to know. Also, it will be surprisingly obvious if you have just pasted an answer from another form, so take the time to really consider what they are asking.
A clearly written answer that gets to the heart of the question will be met with a far more favourable response than forcing your reader to dig through an irrelevant ramble.
2. Do your research – properly
After reading enough law firm websites, you might be tempted to think they all sound the same, but each firm considers itself distinct. And those firms want you to be applying to them for a reason. Reading up on the core values of the firm and of the nature of the cases they deal with will give you an idea of which of your skills and attributes you may want to emphasise in your answers.
That said, this doesn’t mean recycling phrases from their website; they know very well what their own marketing material says. Try and show creativity in using knowledge of their ethos to direct and enrich your answers. Remember not to devolve into outright sycophancy though; fake enthusiasm will be obvious and if you get pulled up on it at interview, they will see right through you. How to choose the right training contract for you
3. Play to all your strengths
The top firms attract candidates of an exceptionally high-calibre, to the extent that top grades alone will not be enough. If you miss out on that 1st however, or have some B-grade GCSEs in your past, there are other ways to bolster your application. Firms want rounded, experienced candidates, who can draw on a range of experiences during their career.
If you have had a part-time job, or done society work, these can give you skills which can be put to good use during a training contract. Whether you learnt about important customer service skills when working as a waitress or lessons on teamwork while running campanology society, these are skills in which recruiters are interested.
Draw on the full range of your relevant university and personal experience. Not only will you may have more applicable skills than you at first realise but this will also help to ensure your answers are personal, real and will stand out for the right reasons.
4. Get as much experience as possible
Experience counts for a lot when making a training contract: it shows commitment to a legal career, motivation to look for it and it proves you have experience of working in a professional law environment.
The ideal work experience is a vacation scheme with the same company with whom you are applying for a training contract. Vacation schemes are also fiercely competitive, so if you don’t land one there are other options available. Look for informal arrangements such as shadowing a legal professional, work experience at your local solicitors office or the Citizens Advice Bureau: all will provide experience of the law in action and provide material to draw upon in your application and your interview.
5. Connect in advance
One of the best ways to make your application stand out is to be known to the firm already. This can be pursued in a variety of ways, be it attending open days, campus networking events, or connecting with them on social media.
Firms are always looking to spot the next generation of talent, so an early connection could make a huge difference to your application. Bright Network hosts lots of events specifically to connect Bright Network members and top firms. Alternatively, keep up with the firms website to see when they have events on, or even better, follow them on Twitter – with a professional looking account- and try and start a dialogue with them.
It is a lot to bear in mind, but these tips can go a long way to winning your application a warm reception. Always be honest about what you write, be yourself, but do it the smart way.