How to ace your training contract application
It’s safe to say that I did my fair share of training contract applications and, while my rate of successful applications would not be held up in the training contract application ‘Hall of Fame’, I learnt a lot about the key to a good application through both the successes and failures.
So what’s key to a great training contract application?
As I’m sure you’ve read before, you need to stand out. Recruitment managers and others assessing your application will be reading through hundreds of others. Many will have similar grades to you, similar work experience and similar experience from their university’s mooting society.
So how do you stand out?
Well, you need to show why you are unique and how your skills fit to the culture and style of the firm, as well as of course, that your interests align with the kind of work the firm does. If they don’t align, you probably shouldn’t be applying in the first place! I think it is hugely telling that the firms I was genuinely interested in were the ones where my applications were successful and moved to the next stage.
Focus on your transferable skills
So yes, of course state that you are interested in their key areas of work but also think:
- Why am I interested?
- What have I done that proves I’m interested in that area?
- What skills are needed in that area of law and what have I done that shows I have those skills?
It may be that you think you don’t have the most relevant experience, but skills aren’t just found in academics or legal work experience. Think about what you do in your spare time, or about activities or part-time jobs from university. Perhaps you were a member of an orchestra, or volunteered at the local community centre, or perhaps you have caring responsibilities. Don’t forget that you will have had your own unique journey to deciding to do law. Trainees at Royds Withy King have a real variety of age, experience and background so it’s about showing off how your journey has made you the right fit for the firm.
And finally, drafting the application
Drafting is a skill that you will have to use a lot as a lawyer, so what better place to demonstrate it than in your training contract application! A few top tips are:
- Do your research before you start. Find out what the firm is like, and what you like about the firm.
- Make sure you set aside a good amount of time to start a new application so you can write down in one sitting most of what you want to say in the application.
- Next, leave your application for a few days, come back to it, review and add in things you’ve thought of while you’ve been doing the washing up, or on the bus, or procrastinating from exam revision if you’re still at university;
- Never underestimate the importance of giving your application to a friend, colleague or family member to read – most of us undersell ourselves and our achievements, so get someone who knows you to read it over and make sure you’re sounding as impressive as you really are.
- Boring but…spellcheck, grammar check, read it through. And then check it again! One whiff of an apostrophe in the wrong place or ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ and you could risk your application going on the no pile.
- Know the deadlines and plan accordingly. Give yourself plenty of time to draft, review and submit your application. Leaving it until the last minute will mean you rush sections and feel stressed – that will show in your application.
- Submit the application- ensure you have read the instructions provided by the firm on how to do this properly, as each firm will have a slightly different process. If you are ever unsure, pick up the phone to the Recruitment Manager and ask! A phone call instead of an email gives you a chance to introduce yourself too.
And finally, best of luck! Hopefully I’ll be seeing some of you at Royds Withy King in the future!
Royds Withy King will be opening applications for our training contract position on 28th February 2018. Check out our Careers pages for more information.