Opinion | 12-04-19

Graduate fairs: what are the chances of employment?

University graduates studying towards their LL.M who are entering the job market, often find themselves attending job fairs this time of the year. The majority of them will attend the New York job fair this spring. Why is looking for employment at job fairs difficult even for the most educated? Are there other alternative methods for job hunting? In this article, our consultant Betty Chen shares her thoughts on how graduates can increase their chances of finding full-time employment.

The New York job fair is held in collaboration with New York University for LL.M students. Even though there are many advantages of these types of job fairs, there are a few downsides which have the following limitations:

  1. The number of domestic law firms and foreign law firms participating in job fairs has significantly reduced over the years. In fact, there were no more than 20 law firms in attendance this year even though there are a few law firms with current recruitment needs in China.

  2. Representatives from some law firms who attend job fairs do not always have a clear recruitment strategy. For them, it can sometimes be seen as an opportunity to reserve legal talents and for market publicity purposes.

  3. Most law firms attend job fairs to recruit junior level lawyers. For law graduates it is a great opportunity to find a job, but for experienced legal talents, there often not many roles on offer.

  4. Law firms receive thousands of resumes making it hard to stand out from a crowded market. Even if you do get the chance to be interviewed, the face to face interview only lasts approximately five minutes.

When it comes to searching for employment, job fairs can be a double-edged sword: you may immediately find the ideal employer of choice or you might find yourself attending unsuccessful interviews the whole day which can be very tiring and emotionally draining. Here are a few ways you can successfully seek out open positions without having to attend a job fair:

  • Existing acquaintances: the legal market is a small circle. You should use this to your advantage and leverage off your social connections, classmates, alumni, ex-colleagues as well as any law school professors who may be able to introduce you to their connections. This can help you stand out from a crowded market where there are just a few openings and more applicants giving you a better chance to land an interview.
  • Networking: the majority of job vacancies are never advertised, these are often referred to as the "hidden job market”. Networking can go a long way in locating these job opportunities. The more people you get to know, the more you’ll start to learn about law firms and any open positions they’re looking to fill.
  • Legal recruiters: legal recruiters can share their local market knowledge and advise on what move you should make at what stage in order for you to achieve your desired career outcomes. We work with legal professionals at all levels to not only secure their next role but to help them plan their career.

If you’re a legal professional looking for your next step, we can help you. At SSQ, we have a range of jobs across both permanent and temporary markets. We work alongside a highly established network of clients across private practice, commerce and industry and financial services, providing expert consultative advice to clients and candidates across the industry. Find out more on what we offer.

If you have any comments on this article or if you want to explore legal job opportunities in China, please feel free to contact our consultant Betty Chen at [email protected].