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When to quit the pursuit of a Vacation Scheme or Training Contract?

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A few people have asked us: “When do I know if I should quit my TC search?” Because hustling for a Training Contract can take a very long time, with few signs to show you if you’re heading in the right direction, it’s especially important to understand when you might consider quitting your search for a TC (and instead evaluate an indirect route, like working as paralegal or in-house first), and when you should press on with your search.

It took me 16 months of active searching while in law school and then several months after graduation to get my first offer, so I’d like to think I am somewhat of an expert in knowing how to evaluate when to quit – because most people in their right minds would have quit if they were me (jobless immediately post-law school, with 20k debt)! However, I had a couple of major indicators to suggest that I was getting close and that I should keep moving, and if you are seeing these indicators in your TC job hunt, you might want to keep pushing, too…

Indicator #1: If you are in “final round” interviews with a firm or on a very short list of candidates (i.e. secured a vacation scheme or have been invited to interviews/assessment centres), you probably have what it takes to get yourself in that position again with another firm. I remember the day I graduated from law school, I received a voicemail from a firm with whom I had conducted a final round interview. Unfortunately – it was a “PFO” call – I did not get the job. However, I knew that if I was that close, I had a reasonable shot of getting close again with another firm. And that’s exactly what happened – with 3 different firms – over the next couple of months, resulting in 2 vacation scheme offers and my ultimate acceptance of a Training Contract.

For example, I met someone who had been searching for a Training Contract for several years and told me he was discouraged by the process. He was trying to get an indication from me as to whether or not he should quit his search. When he told me that he had made it to the final round of a process with a firm, but didn’t get the role, to me that was a big indicator that this guy had a shot at cracking into the industry, so I encouraged him to stay the course. It wouldn’t have surprised me if he went on to get a final round interview or assessment centre with another firm soon after. Same applies to the people I find on StudentRoom. Most of them ask in which application cycle (i.e. 1st year applying, 2nd, 3rd etc.) other people in the forum are and what to do if they have been unsuccessful in several interviews and assessment centres. Well people, you made it to the interview, isn’t this enough to highlight what you do right and what goes wrong? Focus there. Be tough with yourself and work hard to get betterJust consider the odds. Having made it that far means that you are better than the vast majority of applicants. Don’t go mad and focus on your own self-improvement.

Indicator #2: Do you know which law firms are looking for someone like you? Do you know which firms hire only through vacation schemes and for which you have realistic odds to apply directly for a TC? Do you know which law firms would hire 2nd year students and which look for more mature candidates regardless of what they all say in their graduate recruitment brochures?  Have you mastered the “art of applying” and know how to approach law firms? If you are having a hard time staying in the flow, it could mean a couple of things: you’re losing enthusiasm for the TC job hunt or you don’t have a story that is interesting enough to compel law firms to hire you.  The first thing is not fixable (if you don’t like a career in law and you do it simply due to peer pressure, you’ll probably dislike the job) and the second thing may indicate (especially if you haven’t gone deep into a firm’s process that you need to beef up certain aspects of your application before the firms will consider you an interesting candidate. For that we have you covered. Congrapps gives you access to past successful law firm applications where you can see how perfectly, successful candidates have aligned their experiences and interests with the profile of the firm they apply. The good thing with London is that background is not a make it or break it factor. It is all about making yourself relevant and having that spark. People who are not enthusiastic tend to draft vague applications which in turn get immediately rejected. Sounds extreme but even if you had interviews with 20 law firms in the past, losing the spark will first be manifested in your application so even a law firm you consider “below your league” will most probably reject you.


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