Do you have the X-Factor?
It’s that time of year again when the nation’s hopeful sharpen their vocal muscles and compete for a shot at the big time. What always interests me is that just be getting down to the final few a number of the candidates will have effectively made it. All the way back to the Pop Idol days the individuals/ groups coming second or third have had the chance to release records, often doing better than the winners.
I recruit for partners, solicitors, legal executive and paralegals for a number of the leading legal practices in the Midlands. Roles with these firms always attract a good number of applications and often it comes down to which candidate can demonstrate that they have the X-Factor. Whilst a number of the leading firms have preferences for candidates that already work for similar types of firms this is not a hard and fast rule. Opportunities exist for people who can demonstrate the strength of their experience, desire to learn and ability to progress.
How do you demonstrate that you have the X-Factor? Clearly your CV is the starting point. Many larger firms have compartmentalized or sector specific teams. As a candidate you therefore need to be prepared to take time to properly review your CV before applications. You need to be able to go into detail about your work and really show what experience you have that is relevant to the role. A commercial property partner whose team only undertaken development work for house builder clients is not going to be interested in your L & T work for the retail sector. This can mean a complete overhaul of your CV before each application.
The next stage is at interview. This is clearly your best opportunity to demonstrate that you have the X-Factor. What does it mean at this stage? Surprisingly, perhaps, many partners at leading firms are less concerned with technical knowledge. It is reasonably unlikely that they will try to catch you out with obscure technical questions etc. What they are looking for is potential and ability. A candidate who is well presented, able to speak clearly, concisely and honestly about their experience, seems enthusiastic about the firm and keen on the role, who is able to combine professionalism and personality whilst also demonstrating that they can give commercial advice is likely to have a great chance of success.
Finally it is important to remember that much like popular reality music shows, coming second is not necessarily the end of things. Is it not unheard of for firms to come back to us on candidates that have done well at interview, when a new opportunity arises. Candidates who truly have the X-Factor are hard to find and will always stick in an interviewers memory.