It’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog, during the time off I have been trying to figure out how to write a successful training contract and whilst I’m still learning and on the journey I have decided to write a blog post about the most important things I’ve learnt thus far to inform others thinking of applying for a training contract in the hope that my advice may aid another in my situation.
So the first thing I’ve learnt is proofreading, a large reason why many people fail in their training contract applications attempts is that people fail to read over their work and check if they have misspelt words, forgot to use the correct punctuation or grammar and have simply forgotten to use words. As a solicitor, it is vital that you proofread work, and so if you are unable to prove to graduate recruiters that you are able to even read over your application, it is likely that you will be rejected at the first hurdle. You must not rely solely on spellcheck, you must read over your own work perhaps out loud to another in order to truly notice your mistakes.
Secondly, it is necessary to carry out research on the firm, to explain to the recruiter why you choose them above another firm, what sets them apart, have they done any cases recently that you find interesting, are they national or international, do they offer secondments in another country? Make sure you utilise all resources available and not just the firm’s website, do a google search and plenty of information will come up.
My third tip would have to be being commercially aware, and utilise the information in such way that connects your interest and why they should choose you and apply your current knowledge also. This may be tricky, but I’d advise reading newspapers, watching the news, even doing a google check and then try and ask yourself the question, why is this relevant and how can I apply it to my answers.
Fourthly, use the STAR technique to answer behavioural questions, what this means is think of a situation, what was the task, what actions were taken and what was the result. This is the only successful way to answer behavioural questions as it satisfies all the requirements recruiters look for.
My final piece of advice would be to make sure you know what practice areas the firm operates in and make sure you want to work there- be interested, the more interested you are the more likely you are to be successful in your application.
I would also advise, attending open days, connecting with current employees of the firm you intend to practice at on LinkedIn and talk to them about what they do and gain more knowledge. Networking is very useful in the legal profession and it is not to be underappreciated. Make sure you network constantly at university, at vacation schemes and firm open days this way people will be able to recognise you and remember you and may set you in good stead for success.