See Opportunities Where Others See Obstacles
by Harrison Barnes
People like Bill Gates have massive lessons to teach the world because they can see opportunities where others may simply see obstacles. In order to do well in a job search, you absolutely need to make sure you are looking out for where the opportunities are in order to succeed.
"I did not go to the right school."
This is ridiculous. Most of the highest-paid attorneys in the United States did not go to good schools, either. In fact, the very, very highest-paid attorneys may have barely made it through law school. These attorneys focused on their strengths and made the absolute most they could of them.
The law school you went to simply does not matter. Yes, the law school you went to may hold some importance for the very highest-paying law firms; however, for the most part, where you went to law school should be looked upon as a positive factor.
If you went to a terrible law school, find people who also went to this law school and connect with them. Find the most successful attorneys, learn from them, and ask them all sorts of questions about how they overcame the fact that they went to that law school. Send them letters thanking them for the lessons they taught you. Incorporate what they told you into your career pursuits. Work hard to overcome what you may lack in terms of an exceptional school pedigree by working on your personality, reading books about how to bring in business, and making sure you work harder on your legal skills than others do.
Nothing is more common than someone who goes to a good law school and believes, based on this, that he or she can stop trying harder. The best thing that ever happened to me personally was not getting into a certain Ivy League school my father and a lot of my family went to. This taught me right then and there that I could never rest on my laurels and needed to keep working and working. People who go to the best schools often believe they can simply rest on their laurels due to that one achievement.
If you did not go to the best school, you should decide that while those who may have gone to better schools are resting on their laurels, you are going to keep working on yourself and getting better and better. You will surpass them, and when you do, they will not even have seen you coming and you will not need to look back.
"I do not have the right experience."
Regardless of the experience you have, you have some experience doing something. The experience excuse is crazy to me. Everyone has experience!
Maybe you used to work in an oil field as a roughneck and put yourself through night law school. In this situation, you could then use your knowledge and connections with oil workers to connect with people injured in accidents in oil fields and represent them.
Regardless of the type of experience you have, there is some sort of experience you have that you can put to use to get the position you want. You need to think about what you have done that is related to what you want to do. You need to connect with others in the law who have had experiences similar to yours.
Perhaps, however, you truly do not have any experience that is relevant to what you want to do. I doubt this; however, it is possible. If this is the case, then you should consider the experience you do have to be a fantastic lesson that you need to find ways to get the experience you want in order to get the sort of position you want. This may mean taking on a given responsibility in your current job or seeking out new sorts of work. Whatever you are seeking to do, you can get the experience.
For example, one of the most attractive things to potential employers is when someone is so serious about doing something that he or she has taken classes, volunteered, or done something extraordinary to get the experience that he or she needs in order to do a job. People (naturally) want to assist those who are trying hard to advance.
"I live in the wrong part of the country."
Regardless of where you live in the United States, there is a great deal of legal work to be done—and there is a great deal of the sort of legal work you want to do. The belief that you cannot get a job because of where you live is completely fallacious.
One of the most important abilities of anyone—in any profession—is the ability to create work. Very good lawyers are experts at creating work for themselves and are constantly doing it.
Imagine, for example, that you are in a small rural town and want to practice patent law. You could find local inventors and get to know them and also ask them for referrals. You could also put up a website. You could write to attorneys in other small law firms around the country asking for work. The list of possibilities is endless. In order to get the work you need, you need to find opportunities, and you can find them wherever you are.
One of the secrets to selling anything is to put people in pain by identifying a need they may have that they did not know they had. This is something you can do quite easily once you adopt a mindset that allows you to see the sorts of work people are likely to need done. If you hear an inventor discussing something he is working on, you could go up to him and say, "Are you crazy? You need to patent this before you talk about it!" A solid and good attorney is always creating demand and finding ways to get work no matter where he or she is.
In a small town, this could involve traveling to other towns and giving talks. This could involve speaking with local organizations. There are tons of ways that people can get business. You simply need to ensure that you are making the most of each opportunity you have to get the work you want. It does not matter where you are—you can do anything if you try hard enough.
"I do not have the right personality to fit in."
Then change your personality—or, better yet, do not change your personality.
I remember listening to a lawyer talk about business generation once and hearing him say that the biggest nerd in Los Angeles was also the biggest business generator. The implication was "Just be who you are—it is probably good enough."
Everyone fits in wherever he or she is because no matter where you go, you will find a variety of people. You need to look for the reasons you fit in.
"I have a learning disability."
Incredibly, I heard an attorney use this once as a reason for not succeeding. You know what this guy did? He found a job representing foreigners who did not speak English, and they never caught on that he was not the sharpest tack in the box. This guy is now having more fun and making more money than the majority of attorneys out there. And while the work he is doing is not that difficult, he is charging a fair price for it and doing good work.
"My grades were not good enough in law school."
Who cares? I know someone who had a "C-" average at a mediocre law school who got a clerkship with a federal appellate judge and also got a job at a firm routinely ranked as one of the top 10 most prestigious firms in the United States. The judge and firm never asked for her grades! I later placed the same woman at an Am Law 20 firm, and the firm that hired her never asked for her grades, either. To answer your suspicions, this girl was no "knockout." She just got lucky. You can, too. Lots of attorneys do. The secrets are applying to as many jobs as possible and looking the part. In this woman's case, she had written herself onto the law review at her school and was also elected managing editor.
"The best recruiters will not work with me."
Who cares? My life is not as exciting as a rock star's. There are lots of things you could have that you do not. If the best recruiters will not work with you, then find a job on your own. There are some places where you can easily find opportunities when you are seeking a job, regardless of whether you use a recruiter:
Yes, I am the founder of LawCrossing. Yes, LawCrossing has a monthly fee. Nevertheless, LawCrossing also has more than 250 people working for it and looking for jobs for you each day. It has a multimillion-dollar database that searches every legal employer's website daily, and the people at LawCrossing do a great deal of this work manually, as well. LawCrossing also reviews literally thousands of newspapers around the United States each day in search of jobs. Joining LawCrossing is an excellent way to put hundreds of people to work for you finding opportunities. The fact that many people do not want to pay the nominal amount this service charges is fine. Those are the same people who are not competing with LawCrossing members for jobs!
Yes, I am also the founder of Legal Authority. I happen to truly believe in the service and am quite passionate about it. Signing up with Legal Authority is probably the most effective method of finding a position out there. With Legal Authority, you can literally apply to all of the firms of the size you choose and in the sector you are interested in. For instance, if you want to practice litigation in Aurora, IL, with a firm of fewer than 10 attorneys, you can apply to all of the firms that fit these criteria at one time. The benefits of using a service like this are enormous because you will find firms with needs that might not even be advertising. In addition, as part of the Legal Authority service, you will have your resume and cover letter professionally composed and designed. This can make a huge difference when you are applying for jobs.
No matter how you are conducting your job search, if you are looking for a position, the very last thing you should do is limit the number of places you are applying to. The more places you apply to, the more opportunities you are likely to get. You need to look for a position in a comprehensive and far-reaching manner. The more places you apply to, the better your chances will be of getting another position. In addition, any employer you apply to might put you in touch with someone else who has excellent opportunities. Ensure that you are applying to many places at once.
"My resume stinks."
Then make your resume better. Buy a book about attorney resumes, such as the one I wrote (Attorney Resume Secrets Revealed, available from Attorney Research Group) and make your resume perfect. Better yet, hire a professional resume service such as Attorney Resume to create your resume. (Yes, this is also a company I founded). Get professionals to work on your resume and make it outstanding. You owe it to yourself to have a fantastic resume.
Whether you hire a company like Attorney Resume or work on your resume yourself, you need to have the most professional resume possible. A professional can help you bring out your strengths.
The best possible thing you can do with your career is start seeing opportunities where the rest of the world is seeing obstacles. Every obstacle you encounter should be perceived as an opportunity. Do not let the world get you down—take action, improve, and go where you want to go.
I firmly believe that you can accomplish whatever you set out to do and become whatever you want to be. I believe in you and have dedicated my life to providing you with the inspiration and career tools to get you where you want to go. Take your career to the next level and become who you want to become. Never let any perceived obstacle hold you back. You deserve better than that.