How to stand out on your training contract application form
Author: Hannah Short, Trainee Solicitor
Applying for training contracts can be a stressful. It can be difficult to get your personality, skills and drive across on paper in a way that stands out. So I've put together 3 top tips to help you get noticed.
Examples & Variety
Remember to use examples in your application when answering the questions. If you're saying you're a good team player make sure you back it up with an example. It's also important to use a variety of examples too. Avoid talking exclusively about your gap year or your week of work experience make sure you mix it up to show us all of your strengths.
I would recommend writing a list of all of your recent extra-curricular activities and work experience (legal and non-legal) before you start writing your application so that you can plan which example you will use for each answer. This will help to avoid repetitiveness and make sure you include all of your relevant experience in the application. This is your opportunity to show us why Shoosmiths is the firm for you, so try and convey your personality as much as you can. Talk about what makes you different and don't just use work/study based examples. It's your application, so make it personal to you!
Remember to demonstrate throughout your application how you are aligned with the 4 values at the heart of the Shoosmiths brand; pulling together, being within reach and response, taking initiative and talking business sense. These values are used consistently through the firm, not just to assess training contract applicants but in our yearly reviews and in the promotion process, so it's important to show what these mean to you.
It's helpful to think about the following questions when planning your responses; How can you show you're a good leader? When have you successfully worked to a deadline or provided a good service to a client or customer? What exposure have you had to the commercial world and how will this help you in your role as a solicitor?
As well as this, it's important to think about Shoosmiths goals and strategy. Shoosmiths aim to be the leading national law firm famous for client service and if you can show how you can contribute to that goal, your application will really stand out. Think about when you have gone above and beyond for someone, be it a client, customer or one of your peers. Clients are at the heart of our business and so showing how you can develop strong and effective working relationships will really stand out.
Don't be afraid to use non legal work experience. I included a real variety of experience in my application from being chair of the law society at university to my part time job at Sainsbury's. If it's relevant to the skills you will need as a solicitor, (ie. communication, organisation, teamwork and commercial awareness) include it!
Where possible, it's great to include legal work experience too. But don't just include a list of the tasks you completed. Make sure you mention what it was about the experience that made you want to pursue a career in law. Talk about what tasks you got involved in and how you contributed to the team during your work experience.
Overall, try to be as authentic as you can. The assessors will probably have to read lots of cheesy or overly formal applications and so make sure yours stands out by clearly and concisely explaining why you will make a great trainee solicitor at Shoosmiths in your own words and using real life examples!