How To Get A Training Contract – The Basics
Let’s cover the basics for getting a training contract and becoming a trainee solicitor. We also have articles & advice on the specific stages like the cover letter, CV, interview and showing commercial awareness.
The following tips are all about getting the basic stuff right; it’s surprising how many people still make simple mistakes which cost them a job.
Correct spelling and grammar
If you want to be a solicitor you’re going to have to have to be a proficient user of the English language. Having your application riddled with spelling mistakes or poor grammar is going to give you an instant rejection. There really is no excuse for having a less than perfect application. You have spell checkers, the time to proof read the application and even friends / family / tutors who can read your application for you. Even if spelling is one of your weak points you don’t have an excuse for mistakes.
Have a good CV
This doesn’t just mean have it filled with all the relevant & up to date work experience and academics, but make it look nice too. If your CV is poorly set out and confusing then there is a pretty big chance it will just be discarded without even being properly looked at. Remember; recruiters have thousands of applications to look at and won’t waste their time trying to figure a confusing application out when they can just move onto the next one.
Look smart & presentable
Looks matter during the interview and assessment day phases. Men should wear a suit, be clean shaven and have neat hair; not too long or messy. Women should also wear a suits, have a professional hair style, and not be wearing too much make up or jewellery. This show that you:
- Care about your appearance.
- Understand how strong first impressions can be formed on appearance.
Personally I think that men can still look smart with short facial hair & smart casual clothing, but sometimes you just need to play the game. It’s not worth the risk otherwise!
Be the nice person on assessment days
People tend to get too enthusiastic to prove themselves at assessment days to the stage where they seem mean or aggressive. No one wants to work with that sort of person. Don’t see the other people on the assessment day as your enemy or rivals or someone you need to beat. Just think of them as your potential workmates who probably have as much passion for the law as you do. Always be respectful and polite. This will stand out more than someone who never backs down or is trying to hurt others.
Research the firm
You should be able to talk for around 2-3 minutes about the firm when it comes to the interviews. They may just be one of the many firms you applied to (see the point below) but you need to know a little bit about their history. I believe firms expect this not just because they think you have wanted to work for their firm all your life, rather it’s an expected part of preparation for any job. If you don’t know about the history of a firm, and which areas of law they specialise in, how do you know you want to work there and will enjoy working there? Read our tips on firm research.
It’s a numbers & personal development game
Just keep applying and making yourself a more desirable candidate. Eventually you should get that training contract. Each application you make should increase your chances at being successful with the next one as you learn what’s wanted from the firms. Likewise as your CV gets better and better your chances increase. The main thing is you’re continuously improving, and continuously applying for training contracts (or vacation schemes).