Sometimes, students and alumni decide not to even apply for a job in which they are really interested because they read a job posting very narrowly—more narrowly perhaps than they should. They then fail to apply, and take themselves out of the running. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.
Type of Experience Desired
Often a job posting will state a preferred or even required type of experience. In many cases, you can think creatively as to whether the experience you have might be relevant—even if at first glance, you lack the precise job title. For example, a job might require human resources background, but you have never worked in a human resources department or held that title. Still, you were a manager of a retail store where you hired, reprimanded, promoted, and dealt with complaints from employees. Your experience may be very relevant and you should at least consider applying.
Length of Experience
Sometimes, your dream job posting will prefer or require a certain length of time for the preferred experience. Even if you are a new graduate, don’t always assume that you lack even legal experience. For example, a large law firm might post a job for a managing law librarian requiring at least one year of law library work. Well, if you were a Quinney Fellow assigned to work in the law library for a year, it is legitimate experience. Also, for all jobs, don’t fail to count time spent in the field before or during law school!
An exception to this “think outside the box” approach is when a posting clearly states that you must have been licensed by a state bar for a certain number of years. In those cases, you probably won’t make the cut if you don’t meet the strict guidelines.
I recently emailed a job posting to recent graduates with the following hourly pay range: $19.42 to $30.80. I got an email back from an alum pointing out how low the $19.42 starting pay would be. True. But the $30.80 per hour could work out to about $61,000 per year—at least a little more reasonable. When you look at salary ranges, if it is a job you are well-qualified for, and you could make it work if you got a salary at the higher end, then APPLY! If you get an interview and an offer, then sell to the employer why you are worth every penny of the higher end of the range.