Putting the Pieces Together: Why “Fit” Matters in a Legal Job

If you’re building a career as a legal support professional, finding the right firm takes more than simply matching your skills to available job openings. By seeking a more well-rounded fit, you gain not only the opportunities you need to build your skills, but an environment that supports your efforts and helps to solidify your reputation as well.

What is “The Right Fit,” and Why Does It Matter?

“Cultural fit” occurs when your workplace’s norms, values and methods align with your own. When the fit is right:

  • You don’t have to pretend to be someone else at work.
  • You have the tools, support and workspace you need to do your best work.
  • You’re personally connected to your work and the results of your efforts.
  • You’re proud of what you do, and you enjoy telling other people about it.
  • You feel personally and creatively fulfilled by the work that you do. Even when it’s difficult, it feels meaningful to you.

Many professionals hop from job to job during their careers, seeking a good fit without realizing what they’re looking for. When the fit is right, however, your work becomes easier: You find yourself able to do excellent work and to enjoy the challenge it provides.

How to Find the Right Cultural Fit For You

The good news is legal support professionals aren’t the only ones looking for a good fit. Law firms and legal departments understand the value of “fit” as well, and they’re more likely to prize candidates who offer the right fit.

Here’s how to focus your job search on employers who offer the right fit for you:

Know what works for you.

Think about your previous jobs. For each, jot down both what you loved about the workplace and the work and what you hated. If you notice patterns forming, make note of them by circling or underlining them.

Then, distill this list into the top three to five elements that support your best work and the top three to five that don’t. What you should have is a summary of your ideal workplace and your nightmare workplace.

Use this list when you research job opportunities.

While learning about firms you’d like to work for, keep these lists at hand. Whenever elements of your “dream” list come up, make note of them. Integrate them into your interview preparation, either by including them in your practiced answers or by noting a question to ask the interviewer. For instance, if strong mentorship matters to you, you might ask “Your firm website notes you have a mentorship program. Could you tell me more about how it works?”

Likewise, if a firm’s website or other materials keep pinging your “nightmare” list, it’s a sign the fit won’t work for you.

Talk to your recruiter.

Your lists can be one of the most valuable tools your recruiter can have when it comes to matching you to organizations that offer the fit you need. Don’t hesitate to talk to your recruiter about your lists and about why certain elements appear on either the “ideal” or “nightmare” list.

At Kent Legal, our recruiters focus on fit. We help job seekers find law firms and legal departments that match well with their skills, career goals and professional values. For help finding your next career step in the greater Toronto area, contact us today.

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