Now that we have taken you through the steps of preparing your application package, let’s touch on the common pitfalls you can encounter during your job search.

Conducting a professional job search goes beyond just keeping tabs on the job postings on LinkedIn and mindlessly submitting your application package to every posting that catches your eye. Your conduct during the job application and search process can have an impact on your reputation (positive or negative) and therefore it is important to apply the same level of care and consideration to your job search as you do to preparing your application package.

Here are some common mistakes we see candidates make during the job search and application process that can end up doing harm to their personal brand:

  1. Read the job requirements: When a company posts an open position a great deal of thought is put into crafting the job description; therefore you should take time to read the requested skills and honestly consider whether you meet the minimum requirements. This isn’t to say that you should be discouraged from applying to a given job because you fail to meet every one of the enumerated skills and requirements. There is a fine line between self-selecting out of the application process and missing out on job opportunities you would be qualified for and applying to jobs that are clearly beyond your current skills. There are certainly some cases where expertise in an area may be enough to overcome a lack of seniority.
  2. Apply consistently: Being focused in your job search gives seriousness to your application. If I receive your application for a commercial law position and a personal injury position, it makes me question your commitment to either type of law. If you are a junior lawyer and are coming from a background where you have been exposed to a variety of practice areas, it may be a good idea to explain to a recruiter your ideal career path so that they can have a full understanding of the type of jobs you are looking for and why you are both interested and qualified for such different roles.
  3. Be upfront about your job search process: If you are working with a recruiter it is important that you be honest with them about the extent of your job search. If you have submitted your resume yourself to certain firms or positions or are working with other recruiters, let us know so that we don’t duplicate your efforts and conflicts do not arise. The legal community is a small one and it will become evident very quickly if you are not being forthright about your job search. It is our job to help you during this process and we can only do that if you give us the full picture.
  4. Be responsive: As your job search progresses, you may get requests from recruiters or hiring managers to provide additional information such as transcripts, writing samples or references. Respond to these requests promptly. Any unexplained delay from an applicant in responding to this type of request for more information will likely not be interpreted favourably. People want responsive employees and you should be demonstrating this skill from the time you submit your application.
  5. Keep in touch: It may have been the case that at the time you submitted your resume to a recruiter there were not any suitable positions open. It is definitely appropriate for you to follow-up with the recruiter after a couple of weeks to see if there are any new opportunities. By following up, it lets us know that you are committed to your job search. You may also have updates for a recruiter about progress or developments in your personal search.


The overarching theme here is to use your judgment while conducting your job search and submitting applications. While sending out hundreds of applications may seem like it will stack the deck in your favour, you may end up doing harm to your personal brand. You want to come across as a serious, thoughtful candidate and this should be reflected in a focused job search.

For additional tips on managing your personal brand during your job search, see our previous blog on the importance of your online presence to your job search process.

Sherri is a Senior Consultant with the Heller Group. She specializes in recruitment and placement of associates and partners into law firms and corporations. In addition to spending time with her husband and two children, Sherri enjoys running, skiing, playing tennis and cooking.

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