In this way, emotional intelligence among job seekers is crucial, both in interviews and email outreach. Honing the craft of effective writing is also critical, as networking has gone virtual, panelists said.
“You need to become digitally [versed] in how you write to people, in a way that is different than 20 years ago,” Smith said. In a virtual environment, “there are fewer social cues to read,” Leonard added.
Job seekers should similarly avoid appeals to prospects with any hint of a transactional undertone, said Claudia Chafloque-Siu, real estate associate at Eversheds Sutherland who joined the firm last year after getting her J.D.
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Communication should be “genuine,” said Chafloque-Siu, who also notes the importance of strong school support, such as in securing visa sponsorship for law school students from abroad.
To bolster genuine communication, it is important to remember details. Leonard advised law students to keep detailed notes of conversations in spreadsheets. This practice can trigger an earlier memory and leave a favorable impression in follow-up conversations, Leonard said.
Yet in a virtual working environment, where there is now “no end to the day and no end to the week,” as Smith said, it’s particularly important to respect people’s time. When conversation does occur, keep it brief, Leonard said, advising no more than 15 to 20 minutes. Brevity also keeps a conversation focused, Leonard said.
Similarly, when sending an email, it’s wise to condense the main points into a central email, said Chafloque-Siu, noting that walking down the hall to ask a question is not currently possible.
More broadly, as the job search gets underway, students must find ways to “embrace ambiguity,” said Leonard, noting this mindset may prove challenging for those who, “by our nature, tend to be Type A personalities.”
Yet law students have every reason for optimism, panelists stressed.
While “it remains to be seen what things look like on the other side of this pandemic, I’m not seeing anything yet suggesting there’s any massive disruption in employment opportunities,” Leonard said.
Getting a foot in the door may be harder in a virtual world, but job seekers should not lose sight of the potential advantages either, panelists said. While networking virtually is different than face-to-face events and social gatherings, Leonard said, “take that energy and focus it on designing an introduction that is professional.”
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