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What if you’ve interviewed for an alternative career with (non-law) hiring managers, and tried to leave the law – really, really, really tried to showcase your transferable skills – but it hasn’t worked out for you yet?
You have sent out resumes to alternative career/non-law jobs … you have even scored an interview for some roles … but the hiring manager didn’t like you … or thought you would want too high a salary … or thought you only had legal experience, and not enough business experience … or they didn’t know how to view your skills … or you didn’t really know how to pitch yourself … or you didn’t feel comfortable with your “Unique Genius Narrative” … or you just lacked confidence throughout it all and it showed.
So now you are frustrated.
You feel that these hiring managers didn’t appreciate how smart and well spoken you are. Or they didn’t realize how well known your law firm was. Or they didn’t seem to care how highly ranked your law school was. Or they didn’t know how hard it was to make law review. Or they didn’t realize how difficult it is to do patent prosecution or how great of a licensing lawyer you are or how well you can litigate.
In short, they didn’t seem to care. They didn’t seem to like you. All of your credentials and accomplishments and hard work didn’t seem to mean anything to them.
And you know what? That might very well be the case.
And that’s okay.
How to get the outside world to understand the value we lawyers can bring
The outside world may have respect for lawyers, but it’s often done from a distance.
In reality, they don’t understand us. They may have an idea of what we do but, besides what they see on TV, let’s face it, they don’t really know what we do.
How do you cross this bridge? How do you show “them” (all of those alternative career hiring managers and decision makers and bosses in the “non-law” world) how good you really are?
There are two ways main ways to show them clearly the skills you have:
First, you must speak in their language.
And second, you must show how you can add value.
Speaking in their (non-law) language
When it comes to speaking in their language, we can’t fault a CEO or HR person or hiring manager if they don’t understand the importance of the “amicus brief” you wrote or how respected your “BigLaw” firm is or how important that “summary judgment” was that you won. It’s not the language they speak.
They speak in a certain language of their industry.
They speak in Sales or Revenue or Cost per Acquisition or Subscribers per Month or Earned Media or Likes or NPS score or Customer Care Call Time or Refunds Saved.
When you apply to a non-law job, it is incumbent upon you to understand their world. You have to do the hard work to re-tool your resume so your legal work can be positioned for this non-law job. You have to do the hard work of understanding the requirements of this non-law job and seeing how your skills align with their needs. You have to do the hard work of showing how you can add value, not based just on your degree, but on your transferrable experience.
And this is all very possible for you.
You have met deadlines, done presentations, upsold clients, made money, closed deals, put out fires and achieved goals.
As much as you may be inclined to tout your stature as a lawyer or your degree or your law school pedigree, you should realize that leaving the law means abandoning in part a score card you are familiar with for one you’re not.
In other words: You need to translate your skill set into a language the non-law world can understand and appreciate and hire.
Solve a pain. Help. Add value.
Second, you have to show you can add value.
This seems obvious: Add value to a person or boss or organization, and be paid for the value you provide.
But too often, you look for jobs because you feel you are entitled to them. Or you hate your current law job so much you think you’ll just go anywhere. Or you want a job that sounds cool or is with a hot company or brings you a certain level of stature.
What you need to realize is that the main way to make a lot of money in this world and to enjoy your alternative career at the same time is to add value.
I’d like you to begin to show the hiring manager that your skill set as a lawyer is so unique, and so valuable, and so needed, that the hiring manager didn’t even know you (or anyone) could bring such value to their organization.
But here’s where you might get stuck: You may feel that your skills are not unique: You may say something like, most smart people in the (non-law) business world can do all I can do, right?
Short answer is no. You short shrift yourself when you downplay how important your skills are. You have skills, and combinations of skills, others do not possess.
You are loyal. And you spot issues that others don’t see. And you keep a calm head. And you provide good advice. And you keep things confidential. And you engender respect. And you question.
You come from law firms and other working environments where everyone can do that. I’d like you to realize that outside of the legal environment, not just anyone can or does do this. I’d like you to realize that your skills are in high demand.
But the other thing to realize is the value you can bring with the combination of your skills:
– You’re good with people AND you can negotiate contracts? Have you thought of Business Development?
– You write clearly and detailed AND you have a science background? Have you thought of Product Management?
– You are empathetic AND have a deep background in employment law? Have you thought of a HR Manager role?
– You are a control freak (with a fairly high level of OCD) AND are kind of a tech and gadget geek on the side? Have you thought of a Business Process Outsourcing role?
– You can deftly manage a conversation AND make people feel comfortable in your presence? Have you thought of being a Focus Group Moderator?
– You have a prosecutorial mindset AND you have great attention to detail? Have you thought of a Trust and Safety role?
It’s very easy for you to get down and out when you think of how the non-law world has no sense of how much you’ve worked and how smart you are. And you’re right, they don’t know what it’s like to be a lawyer.
But that’s not their job to do so. It’s your job to show them the value you can bring in ways they haven’t even thought of yet … in translatable ways they can understand.
And if you don’t feel you can do this on your own, that’s where Leave Law Behind can really help. For as little as $97 a month for 12 months, consider joining our flagship online coaching program, Your Path Out. Click here to learn more and get instant access to our exclusive community.
Click here to take our free quiz to see if leaving the law is right for you.
Or click here to see the many other resources and tools we’ve created for you to help you leave your law practice.
This article originally appeared on Above the Law here.
And you might also enjoy some of my recent blogs posts, like the following:
7 transferable skills lawyers have that the rest of the world would die for