Friday, September 26, 2014

How To Write The Perfect Networking Email

by Susanne Aronowitz 
Associate Dean for Law Career Services 

So you just attended another networking event, met some interesting people, and came home with a stack of new business cards. Now what?

The magic to networking is in effective follow through. Our own Sandra Derian recently found a terrific article that offers clever tips on writing the perfect networking email to convert your new acquaintances into long-term professional relationships.

What follow-up strategies work best for you? Send us a message at lawcareer@ggu.edu to let us know!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Facebook Cautionary Tale or Professional Opportunity—You Choose!

By Susanne Aronowitz
Associate Dean for Law Career Services

We have all heard the admonitions about maintaining a “professional” image on Facebook and other social media platforms to avoid limiting our opportunities with prospective employers and clients. Unfortunately, what constitutes “professional” is often in the eye of the beholder. What then, is a law student to do to maintain a clean digital footprint? Even more important, how can a burgeoning legal professional use social media to enhance their digital footprint and online image? 

Our friends at the Culture and Manners Institute offer some practical examples and suggestions below: 

Another story from an employer. The company was getting ready to tender an offer to a young man who just graduated from college. The last step in the process was a quick check of his Facebook page.

On the Facebook page, he was bragging about his third DUI. The offer was never offered.

"Never" is not completely accurate -- the offer went to the next candidate, whose Facebook page checked out.

If you are going to be on Facebook, what positive things can you do while growing your career? Show you can communicate in complete sentences. Have pictures with friends who don't have beers in their hands. Stay out of politics -- unless you plan to spend the rest of your life in politics. Wear clothes. Not swimsuits. Let some of the activities on your resume be reflected in your Facebook content.

The most important part: don't put everything out there. A little mystery makes a person interesting. When you publish everything you do, think and feel, your mystery is history.

One last tip: search your name and email address on Google periodically to avoid any surprises. For specific guidance on cleaning up your digital dirt and using other forms of social media effectively, check out NALP’s e-Guides on E-Professionalism.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Interview for "Fit"

by Susanne Aronowitz
Associate Dean of Law Career Services and Alumni Relations

Today’s interview advice comes from Mary Crane, author of 100 Things You Need to Know--Business Etiquette for Students and New Professionals, and focuses on interviewing for “fit.” While most employers will use your application materials to assess your job qualifications, they rely on the interview to determine if you are a good “fit” for their organization. While Mary’s advice is not specific to the legal profession, she offers clarity to the nebulous concept of “fit” so that you can be effective when communicating with employers.

Employers generally acknowledge that technical skills account for only 25% of any new professional’s success at work. The employees who thrive possess a series of soft skills—communication, networking, time management, teamwork—and they naturally “fit.”

“Fit” relates to how well a potential new hire syncs with the culture or the core values, behaviors and personalities that make up an organization. Where fit occurs, new hires comfortably slide into positions. They share the beliefs, attitudes and priorities that drive the organization. Frustration is minimized. Retention improves. (For more on “fit,” click and view business psychologist Natalie Baumgartner’s TED Talk.)

Many “fit” questions sound like the queries James Lipton might pose to a guest of Inside the Actors Studio: Star Wars or Star Trek? If you were a dog, what kind of dog would you be? What motivates you the most—money, power or fame? However, a blog entry posted on www.hiregy.com lists five “fit” questions that your on-campus recruiters should consider, including:

Describe your ideal work environment. What is the single most important factor that will help make you a success?

Years ago, I interviewed for a staff position on Capitol Hill. Although I was well qualified for the job, upon seeing the work environment, I knew I would be challenged to succeed. Legislative staffers frequently work in extremely cramped quarters, sometimes share desk space, and must tune out a constant cacophony of phone calls. For me to thrive, I need a quiet, undisturbed space where I can work uninterrupted. I knew our unique work environment needs would never mesh.

How do you feel about working as a member of a team? If you had complete control of your time, what percentage would you prefer to allocate to teamwork vs. solo performance?

While most jobs require employees to work solo and participate in team activities, most individuals have a preference for one form of work over the other. Hiring someone who likes and needs to interact with other people and placing him or her in a position where opportunities to interact are limited ensures frustration and disappointment.

What management style brings out your best performance?

You have likely observed a variety of management styles at work, including paternalistic, authoritarian, collaborative, agile, etc. While each style can succeed, much depends on the receptiveness of workers to a manager’s particular style. For example, an authoritarian manager is unlikely to sync well with a junior employee who prefers a collaborative management style. Elicit information that helps match job candidates with existing management styles.

When working on a team, what role do you typically play?

Many of us have roles that we play through the entirety of our lives: leader; implementer; compiler of data; pleaser. Ascertain a job candidate’s preferred role as well as his or her ability to discern others' wants and needs.

When working on a team, what relationship do you prefer to develop with other team members?

Some organizations place a high level of importance on the interpersonal connections employees develop and maintain. Others expect employees to come to work, do a job, and go home. The job candidate who seeks a clear separation between their professional and personal lives is unlikely to feel comfortable in a work atmosphere in which employees are expected to work and play together.

Job candidates should keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer to a cultural fit question. However, to the extent students do the following, they can help ensure “fit” with a prospective employer:

Long before you head to an interview, go on-line and research prospective employers to discern their values. Incorporate references to specific values in your answers to interview questions.

Prepare questions that elicit information regarding an employer’s ability to sync with your own core values and needs. If you genuinely value time-off on weekends to spend with family and friends, a high-pressure position on Wall Street may not be a good fit.

Ask questions that help you understand how people work together within the organization. If you are a collaborative team builder and the prospective employer only rewards individual performance, you may wish to look for a better fit.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Five Deadliest Job Interview Mistakes

by Susanne Aronowitz
Associate Dean of Law Career Services and Alumni Relations

"The last thing you want to do on a job interview is disappear into the confusing sea of job-seekers that a hiring manager is desperately trying to keep separate in his mind," according to Liz Cole, the CEO and Founder of Human Workplace. "Only one person can get the job, so the last thing you want to do is sound like everyone else."
As you prepare for your upcoming job interviews, check out her great advice on the five deadliest job interview mistakes to avoid.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Interview Season Tip 1: It’s More Important to Hear Than to be Heard

by Susanne Aronowitz 
Associate Dean for Law Career Services

As we approach GGU’s On-Campus Interview season, over the next few weeks we will be sharing a variety of interview tips and resources on the LCS blog to help you ace your next job interview.

Most students will prepare for their upcoming interviews by exhaustively researching their prospective employers and learning as much about their organizations as possible. When combined with a healthy dose of nervous energy, many students feel compelled to show off this new-found knowledge with rehearsed pitches and rambling answers to questions. Please resist this urge! Indeed, as a recent SFGate blog article observed, most job candidates spend more time talking at rather than with their interviewer. As a result, they lose the opportunity to make a meaningful connection that highlights why they are a good fit for the position they are seeking.

If this sounds like you, I encourage you to try a new approach at your next job interview. It may feel counter-intuitive, but consider spending less time talking and more time listening. Your interview should feel more like a conversation than a one-sided deposition. Use your thorough pre-interview preparation to identify connections with your prospective employer; allow your natural curiosity and enthusiasm for the employer to introduce these connections more organically in your conversation.

As the SFGate article advises, pay attention to cues: are you doing most of the talking? Does the interviewer seem distracted? Are you so busy silently rehearsing your answer to the next question that you haven’t heard what the interviewer has said? If so, you are probably talking at (and not with) your interviewer.

Take a few deep breaths, slow down the pace, and focus on listening. By listening to your interviewer better, you will become a more compelling candidate!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Deadline EXTENDED: Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Applications Due August 15!

The deadline to apply to GGU's Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) has been extended to Friday, August 15.  LRAP helps graduates (years 2013 and earlier) who secure employment in low-paying public interest and government jobs. Under LRAP, Golden Gate University makes a loan to selected graduates to assist them with their law school loan repayments. If a graduate remains eligible throughout the year, the loan is fully forgiven in July of the following year. There is no limit to the number of years a GGU graduate can receive LRAP support. Please note that beginning in 2014, the LRAP application process is administered by the Law Financial Aid Department. Direct questions/inquiries to Gabriela De la Vega, Director of Law Financial Aid, gdelavega@ggu.edu, (415) 442-6632.

Applications are due August 15, 2014, and are available online: http://law.ggu.edu/clinics-and-centers/special-programs/public-interest-law

Friday, July 18, 2014

Oops . . . What’d you say your name was?

By Susanne Aronowitz
Associate Dean of Law Career Services and Alumni Relations

Have you ever had that awkward experience of forgetting a person’s name about 5 seconds after they introduce themselves to you? This can be particularly awkward at a job interview or networking event. Never fear, this happens to all of us from time-to-time. The Culture and Manners Institute at www.cultureandmanners.com offers some great tips for handling the situation with grace and improving your ability to recall names:
Some people think name recall is something you are born with. You either have it or you don't. Not true! Name recall is a life-long practice. Anyone can become skilled at name recall, it just takes a little effort.

When you collect business cards at an event -- look at each card after the event and try to picture the person. Don't just do it once, do it a few times a week or before your next event.

A great place to practice name recall is on your LinkedIn account. Cover up the names of your LinkedIn "Connections" and try to identify each person by his/her picture. Next, try covering the pictures and visualizing the person that goes with each name.

When you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn, don't just send the generic invite. ("I'd like to connect with you on LinkedIn." The other person may be thinking, "Who are you?")

In your invite, introduce yourself, whether you have met before and why you want to be connected. (Hopefully, it's not just to reach 500+ Connections.)

We met at the Chamber of Commerce event...
We have a mutual friend in Mark Harris...
I noticed you are also in LinkedIn's Association of MBAs group and thought you might be a good person to connect with...
If you do forget someone's name, don't say, "I'm sorry, I forgot your name." (That's a little on the chilly side.) A nicer way is to say, "Please tell me your name again."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Student Blogging Equals Opportunity

By Henghameh Poya, LCS Intern

One of the most effective ways for 1L students to enhance their professional reputations and relationships is via blogging. There is a plethora of law subjects not covered in the legal blogging world. For example, say you are interested in tax law and working with underprivileged communities. You can start blogging about current tax projects with underprivileged communities and referencing news articles regarding the subject. Utilizing other social media outlets to expand your blog topic will connect you even further. Within months you’ll be recognized in the tax community. This in turn leads to more job and networking opportunities. Learn more here. For links to a wide array of law-related blogs, check out the ABA's "Blawg" Directory.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Microsoft Office Tutorials – for FREE!

By Henghameh Poya, LCS Intern

Ever wonder, "How do I alter the margins in my document?" "How do I add those equations in Excel?" You're not alone. Legal employers expect their interns and attorneys to be self-sufficient when it comes to computer skills; check out these resources that offer videos and step-by-step instructions.

1. Straight from the source

This website offers video tutorials for all of Microsoft's available programs. You can also choose which version you have and whether you're using a PC or Mac. Try using the search bar at the top of the page to navigate you to what you're looking for.

2. If videos aren’t your thing

This website offers step-by-step instructions (with pictures) on how to do a variety of tasks. It also offers some helpful explanations on what the tools do and what they would be useful for. The directions may differ slightly depending on the version of Office you’re using, but you'll get a nice overview from this website.

3. Just another option

This website is another text-based instruction site, but it's not quite as comprehensive as the previous one. It offers some simple instructions and gives you the option of choosing which version you're using.

Tip: If there isn't a tutorial for what you're looking for, try running a Google search with a brief description of your question. Example: "how to add column Microsoft Word."

Friday, July 4, 2014

Controversy Abounds at the US Supreme Court

By Cynthia Chandler
Public Interest Career Counselor and Adjunct Professor

Over the last week, the US Supreme Court rolled out significant rulings that promise to shape our legal and political landscape. To enhance your own professional development, consider publishing your own analysis and commentary on the rulings. If you came to law school to work on controversies like these, make an appointment at LCS to figure out how. Here are brief summaries of the rulings; you can access copies of the decisions at www.supremecourt.gov. And to keep informed of Constitutional trends, check out the American Constitutional Society's "What's Next?" Conference Call Series: information at http://www.acslaw.org/WhatsNextSeries2014

ABORTION CLINICS. The Supreme Court used the First Amendment to strike down a Massachusetts law that restricted demonstrators outside abortion clinics by setting up 35-foot buffer zones. The court upheld an 8-foot buffer zone in Colorado 14 years ago, but the current court tends to favor free speech rights. During oral arguments in January, most justices wondered whether the Massachusetts law went too far in keeping protesters far away from patients.

In an ironic twist, a plaintiff is already poised to challenge the Supreme Court having its own political speech buffer zone after the Court's ruling last week striking down buffer zones protecting healthcare access at clinics providing abortion services. You can read more about this new buffer zone case here: http://www.businessinsider.com/supreme-court-abortion-buffer-zones-decision-2014-6

PRESIDENTIAL POWERS. The Court settled a constitutional showdown between the President and Congressional Republicans, siding with Congress and issuing a ruling favorable to employers. The ruling puts in question hundreds of decisions a federal labor board issued between 2012-13, covering a variety of disputes over union organizing, collective-bargaining agreements and employee-discipline cases.

Republicans in Congress had challenged appointments the President made to a federal labor board without Senate confirmation, because the President claimed lawmakers were in recess. The Senate was meeting every three days in pro-forma sessions. Siding with Congress, the Court's ruling shapes who has the upper hand between future presidents and Congresses when it comes to filling important executive branch posts. The ruling could have implicated past appointments by presidents dating back to George Washington, but "[t]he court's four liberals, joined by conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, declined to nearly eliminate the capability, as a lower court had done. The majority cited two centuries of historical practice in holding that the president may make temporary appointments when the Senate ceases conducting business for at least 10 days." (read more here: http://online.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-rules-nlrb-recess-appointments-invalid-1403791866

LABOR UNIONS. The Supreme Court issued a blow to unions' political and economic power by removing their right to represent workers who do not want to pay union dues.

For decades, the law has allowed unions to collect dues from all private or public employees they are required to represent. Eight home-care workers in Illinois challenged that law, arguing they should not be required to join, even though the union is required to represent them.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM / BIRTH CONTROL: The Affordable Care Act mandates that most employers provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives. Two for-profit companies with religious objections challenged that provision of the law: Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based arts and crafts retailer with evangelical Christian owners; and Conestoga Wood Specialties Inc., a Pennsylvania cabinet company with Mennonite owners.

The Court sided with the private companies in a broad-sweeping ruling that gives for-profit, private corporations the ability to opt out of laws based on the religious beliefs of corporate owners. Just how far this ruling will reach, even within the healthcare arena, is hard to tell. Justice Ginsburg raised a few areas of concern related to public health in her dissent. Read more here: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/best-lines-hobby-lobby-decision

CONVERSION THERAPY: The Court declined to review a challenge to California’s law—which local groups National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality California helped draft, pass, and defend—that protects LGBT children from conversion therapists. The decision clears the way for enforcement of the first law in the nation that protects children from practices aimed at changing their sexual orientation or gender expression.

CELL PHONES: The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police may not search without a warrant the cell phones of people arrested -- a sweeping endorsement for privacy rights. This decision implicates most of us: a January Pew Research Center survey found more than 90 percent of Americans now own or regularly use a cellphone, and 58 percent have a smartphone.

Lower courts nationwide had been divided over how to apply a 40-year-old high court precedent allowing searches of a suspect's items after arrest. Home searches generally require warrants and are given greater constitutional protection than vehicles or a person in public. This ruling will impact the daily practice of police departments, prosecutors, and all courts nationwide.