Posted Dec 21, 2009 12:50 pm CST
Fitting in may be more important to getting and keeping a job than skill level, a legal recruiter says.
Writing for 4Hoteliers.com, legal recruiter Harrison Barnes of BCG Attorney Search says job applicants do have to meet minimum qualifications—and that could mean being in the top third of your class or graduating from a top school. But once you get an interview, you will need to mesh with the hiring committee to get a job.
“The interesting thing about my work is that I often get firsthand accounts regarding why people are getting hired and why people are losing their jobs,” Barnes writes. “If there is one thing that stands out to me, it is that the people that get hired and keep their jobs are generally those who fit in with their surroundings at work. The people that are losing their jobs and are having the most problems landing employment, are those who are not able to fit in.”
Fitting in may mean sharing similar philosophies and beliefs about the world, or feeling comfortable around co-workers, Barnes says. It means getting along with others, and not being a source of tension. “To your employers, you should seem like a kindred spirit, someone towards whom they can take a maternalistic or paternalistic approach,” he says.
Those who don’t fit in are easy to spot. Barnes says they tend to be critical of the group and create problems.
He also acknowledges that some hiring organizations are somewhat racist, some are male-dominated, and some are dominated by members of a certain religion or sexual orientation.
Barnes gives some examples of how fitting in helped some people land jobs. He believes one executive got a $200,000 a year job because he enjoyed surfing, like the CEO who hired him. He believes one executive was hired because she had followed the Grateful Dead, as did a company director. He believes another person was hired because she was a member of the same religious group as the hiring manager.
Barnes also gives an example from his own law school days. When he was a 2L, Barnes says, he was one of only five students from his school who got an interview with a high-profile New York law firm. The other four students were at the top of their class; Barnes’ academic record wasn’t as good and he had no idea why he got the interview.
Barnes figured out why he was chosen at the end of the interview. “I rose to shake the man’s hand, and when he held his hand out, he gave me my fraternity handshake!” he writes.