Question: Do you have any tips for responding to classified ads for legal positions?
Answer: There are some risks associated with responding to advertising, though some are more real than others. They center around three main concerns, and we will deal with them in descending order of importance. While we feel risks do exist, being aware of what they are can reduce or eliminate them and thereby vitalize a valuable tool in your job search.
1. The Confidentiality Concern. This is clearly the most important concern for those lawyers who are exploring the job market but not willing to risk their current job in doing so. The fear is that responding to an ad is tantamount to putting your name on the street. Even more so, responding to a blind box ad is thought to be the functional equivalent of skywriting your search activity. Caution and common sense are our advice.
We encourage you to stress confidentiality in the cover letter that accompanies your resume. Give appropriate contact information, and if it is sensitive for the firm to contact you at your office, make that clear. It is easy enough to take that first call at home and then establish procedures for future communication.
If you are unwilling to release a resume in response to an ad, then consider a phone call. Most advertisers indicate the hiring contact in their firm, and a phone call can skirt the uncertainty of placing a resume in the mail.
2. The Best-Jobs-Aren't-Advertised Concern. A blanket statement that good jobs do not find themselves being advertised may prove a dangerous oversight. More and more employers are using classifieds to reach qualified candidates. The stigma of responding to classified ads no longer really exists.
3. The Unbecoming-to-the-Profession Concern. Some lawyers feel that advertising does not become the profession and that they wouldn't consider a firm who would hire them through advertising. For the same reasons expressed in Number 2 above, we think this curiously stuffy view is a relic in the community. Bar associations in a number of states have sanctioned advertising for a variety of purposes, and advertising job openings has always been approved by the organized bar. Further, many well-established firms now typically advertise their open positions.
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