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Tips on how to make your VS application stand out.... watch

    • Thread Starter

    Hi guys,

    I'm going to be apply for Vacation Schemes from October and was wondering if there are any good books that you give you hints and tips for the application process/interview?

    I'm thinking along the lines of 'A Dummy's guide to VS applications'...type thing.

    I know there are books giving advice for medicine interviews so I assume there will be something similar for Vacation Schemes.

    Please let me know if there is one that you can recommend.

    Thank you x

    This reminds me of the French author Jean Giraudoux
    The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made

    Hi. I think websites tend to be more informative than books about making the great application, and even then they haven't told me anything extremely useful. I'm not an expert on writing law firm applications, but I've gotten enough interviews and rejections to roughly figure out what makes you stand out. Here's what I think:

    1. Make sure your application truly pertains to the firm you're applying for. I don't necessarily mean putting in a few names of cases they've done in your application (though some HR people might like this!), but really understand their strengths, practice areas, and how you fit into that equation. Match up your passions with their practices. If you love working in environments with thousands of other people, don't put that anywhere in your application when you're applying to a mid-sized firm. Also, look on their website to see what kind of person they're looking for e.g. someone with teamwork skills, analytical skills, and be prepared to speak about how you match up with these in your application and interview.

    2. Don't spend too long saying how awesome you think they are. A few lines would do, but too much seems (as the above poster mentioned) insincere and it looks like you lack anything more to say. If you love how versatile they are or how global they are, great: say it. But then match it up with who you are. I'm sure they get tons of emails about how an applicant loves a fast-paced environment and city life, but they don't tend to explain why this appeals to them.

    3. If you have competency questions in your application, make it short and sweet. The STARE format is contrived but it gets the job done and ticks boxes. Try and really understand what they're asking from the question. If they're asking about a time where you've handled clients well, then don't just say 'I reassured a client about x' - talk about your thought process, exactly what steps you did. Being specific has always been the key to these things.

    4. If it's on the application, it's fair game for interview. Don't write anything that you're not prepared to have a discussion about.

    5. Sincerity. It's pretty hard to display on paper but it can be shown if you use more powerful adjectives and verbs. But truly, I think you really have to be sincere because if you're sincere, you have stable reasons why law/commercial law/this firm is right for you. Nobody in HR really expects anybody to have an amazing or moving story about why you want to get into law: it's the simple, logical and strong reasons that stand out. You love analysing and researching. You've worked in a commercial company and the environment fascinates you because you always have to think about many different commercial issues. Also, make sure you have a good idea of what being a lawyer entails ... it's nothing like Ally McBeal, Boston Legal or Silk.

    6. Go to open days or university evenings as much as you can. Why? I've never been rejected for interview if I've been to an open day at the firm, although I understand other people might have different experiences. Attending such events can make you stand out, show your commitment and help you articulate why you want to join. For university evenings where law firms visit, try and get a conversation and a name card. I guess you could name drop in your application form but I'm not sure it works; I would just use your time to get inside knowledge e.g. where it plans on expanding next etc.

    7. I think most applications get rejected because they have spelling and grammar mistakes. Run it through Word and even then, re-read it. It would suck to have worked so long on your application, only to be rejected for that reason!

    8. Oh, the dreaded 'commercial awareness' issue? This book is pretty good, especially for someone like me with no finance or business knowledge. Pick a few recent commercial events to think about and talk about on interview ... make sure they actually interest you and it's something you can discuss, not just re-iterate the facts of.

    9. In general, just look through an application through the eyes of the recruiter. See what you think might be boring or what might tick boxes. Try to make yourself sound interesting and put in different jobs that you might have done - lots of recruiters want someone who has 'lived a little'.

    Good luck! I hope this is helpful in some way.

    In response to point 1:

    - How do you go about matching your interest in a particular aspect of the firm's work, your suitability/experience pertaining to that sector and the fact that as a trainee you will be expected to sit in different seats that might be completely different to the areas you've expressed an interest in.
    (Edit. Not that you would have no interest in commercial law (duh) just that you'd highlighted a different aspect of the firm's work)

    For example, if you apply to firms with a large social housing practice, and in the application form you mention relevant experience and why you're interested - how would the recruiter respond to that? Do you have to put a subtle *disclaimer* that actually as much as you like social housing you're equally up for a seat in banking, corporate and litigation.

    I'm worried that in my applications I've highlighted important areas of the firm's work that matches my interest and experience but at the expense of 'bread and butter' areas.

    Thanks very much for your response, hmaus.

    Perhaps I will structure my answer by beginning with the general training on offer at each firm and then my own preferences to emphasise the point that I am interested in the firm as a whole.
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