Before Google Maps there were road maps. They were tangible, printed on paper, with incredible detail. We kept them in our car glove compartments. You could open a road map, spread it across the kitchen table and plan a trip. There were usually several options and different routes that would take you to your destination. There were choices available – the coast highway, the mountain pass or the back roads and the route chosen was not necessarily a straight line to your destination.
We think about careers in the same way. There is a roadmap to your next career opportunity and it is informed by the nexus you have to that opportunity. Nexus is all about connecting the touch points. Here are four touch points to consider.
Competencies and Practice Area Experience
When you learn of an opportunity that excites you, draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left side, list what the employer wants. On the right side, list your competencies or practice areas and examples of your accomplishments that align with what the employer wants. That establishes nexus. It will also prepare you for the interview; being able to articulate the nexus is a key to a successful interview. Demonstrate your nexus by describing your accomplishments. Show the interviewer what you can accomplish by way of example.
Do you have experience in the industry in which you are pursuing an opportunity? While in law firm practice, did you represent clients in that industry? Competitor experience might be highly marketable. And if you do not have direct competitor experience, how are your competencies or key practice areas transferrable to the new industry? If you have learned how to navigate one federal regulatory agency can you learn how to navigate a new regulatory agency? These are all important connections to make from point A to Point B.
Common Ground and Determining Fit
What do you and your next employer have in common? Were you trained at the same law firm? Do you practice in the same area? Did you attend the same college or university? Do you volunteer for similar organizations or serve on the same Boards? Do you share an interest outside the legal profession?
Scholarships and Awards as well as grades and academic institutions may be more or less important to the hiring attorney or the organization than others. Knowing what’s valued by the hiring attorney and the organization become some of the subtle nexuses that can define one’s success in being hired. Find the connections.
Culture and Determining Fit
The “right fit” matters for both parties (the organization and the individual). If you thrive in a steady, consensus building environment, evaluate every employment opportunity against those criteria to ensure that the cultural nexus exists. Likewise, if you are excited by innovation and out of the box thinking, you need to seek out opportunities where that culture is present. Is work life balance relevant? If so, do others in the department manage outside activities? If you know what you are looking for, there are ways of structuring questions to cull the information that may be needed by both parties in assessing the “right fit”.
Identifying and articulating as many touch points as possible provides you with a nexus to your next opportunity. Nexus literally allows you to draw the map and build the bridge to your career destination. Articulating the many touch points may be the key to landing your next opportunity.
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