Applying for a training contract can be a daunting process - competition for contracts is higher than ever and firms are challenging applicants to make their application stand out as best they can.
Kathryn McIvor and Joshua Hunter started their training contracts with Mills Selig in 2018 and both qualified as Solicitors earlier this year – here are their 5 tips for your training contract application.
“A common mistake when applying for a training contract is to apply for as many possible and hope you get an offer” says Joshua, “My advice would be to plan the application process carefully, research the firm, tailor your answers and ensure your application is submitted ahead of the deadline”.
Quality is better than quantity, decide on where you want to apply, factor in your research and allow yourself time to put the application together well ahead of deadlines or submission dates.
It might not seem immediately obvious, but law firms are very distinct – each firm has a unique set of values and often specialise in a particular type of work.
Kathryn says, “Firms want to know why you want to work for them, what attracted you and what made you choose them over a rival. Research is vital in this case – websites and social media profiles give excellent insight into a firm but I think it is important to go beyond this - seek out opportunities to speak to staff; open days and careers fairs are excellent opportunities for this.”
Kathryn continues, “And as daunting as it might sound, an email requesting a chat to a Solicitor or Partner within the firm you are applying shows initiative – don’t forget, even the Managing Partner had to secure a training contract at some point!”
“Unfortunately top grades alone are not enough these days” says Kathryn, “Work experience in a firm will always strengthen an application, but a range of experience gained through school, university, sports, volunteering and part-time work is invaluable”
Teamwork, project management, organisation, creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking are just some of the skills we begin to acquire from an early age and apply on a daily basis – draw on these as best you can and include where applicable.
Be clear and concise
Demand for training contracts is higher than ever meaning firms are often inundated with applications – the best applications are clear, concise and to the point.
Joshua says, “When applying for more than one opportunity it is tempting to copy and paste between applications; make sure you are answering the question you have been asked, not the question you wished you had been asked”. Joshua continues, “A shorter answer, clearly referencing and responding to the question is much more valuable on your application than a longwinded less concise answer”.
Lawyers and Solicitors are renowned for their attention to detail, it’s a crucial skill, to be honed and refined over your career. Spelling and punctuation mistakes on your application will not be looked upon favourably, so giving yourself time to proofread is essential.
Kathryn advises, “Print your application and read over it a number of times, then ask a friend or family member to proof it also – extensive proofreading gives great peace of mind once the application is submitted”
Joshua agrees, “Time to proofread an application is vital, I would recommend a few days to allow you to read over and check for mistakes or typos – but this will also allow you time to put the application aside and then return to it with a clear head to further review.”
Recruitment for training contracts with Mills Selig. roles commencing September 2021, is now open - click for further information: bit.ly/TrainWithMillsSelig