is my law degree keeping me from getting interviews? by Alison Green on October 16, 2014 A reader writes: I have taken so much of your advice during my job search — personalizing my cover letters, delineating my accomplishments rather than job descriptions on resumes, etc. In particular, I have explained in my cover letters, best as I am able, why I am pursuing administrative positions in human resources and higher education student services rather than legal jobs, although I was most recently an attorney. (My reasons, FYI, are many. I have young children, I prefer a less adversarial role, I was a solo and I miss having coworkers, I just do not like being a lawyer…) I know it is a rough market right now and not a good time to be switching fields, but I have spent two months applying to so many positions and have gotten not a single phone call or rejection email or anything else that would indicate that my application is not just being immediately removed from consideration. I am often applying for entry level positions that do not have experience requirements. I do have administrative experience and some educational experience from before I made the apparently terrible decision to go to law school and obtain a JD. I can’t help but think that people have a lot of incorrect notions about what kind of education law school provides. I think it turned me into a focused, hard-working person, enhanced my analytical skills, and made me an effective communicator. But I am worried that hiring managers might assume that it turned me into a lawyer-stereotype: argumentative, materialistic, and arrogant. Am I just using my JD as a scapegoat for my job hunt frustration, or could this be true? It’s less likely to be that they assume law school has turned you into a jerk and more likely that they assume that you want to be a lawyer. I know that you’re explaining in your cover letter that you don’t, but they’re looking at your resume and seeing: Lawyer. The other factor is likely that your qualifications aren’t as strong for the roles you’re applying for as other people’s qualifications are. That’s partly a line-for-line issue with your resume and work history (you’ve been working as a lawyer rather than doing the work they’re hiring for), and partly because when they look at you as a package, what they see is someone who’s been on a different track than the one they have in their head as the strongest profile for the jobs they’re hiring for. Their ideal candidate profile probably doesn’t include law school and working as a lawyer, so you deviate from it in significant ways. That makes it much harder to get interviews in a tight job market. (In fact, changing fields in this job market is extremely hard to do in general, not just for lawyers. When employers have loads of qualified candidates with experience in their field, there’s not much incentive for them to take a chance on someone without that track record. To give yourself even a fighting chance, you’ve to paint a really compelling picture of exactly how your skills are transferable — you can’t assume they’ll figure it out for themselves.) On top of that, you said that you’re applying for entry-level positions — but you’re not entry-level. Most employers are almost certainly dismissing you right off the bat because of that. Very few managers want to hire a former attorney to do entry-level work; they assume you’ll be bored, dissatisfied with the pay, and likely to leave as soon as something better comes along. It doesn’t matter if you tell them that’s not the case; it’s the case enough of the time that they’re not likely to play those odds. So I think the issue is twofold: First, you probably need to recalibrate what jobs you’re applying for so that they match up with your actual skill and experience level. Second, I suspect you need to put more work into explaining why an employer should be excited to hire you for whatever specific opening you’re applying for. Not just why you’re qualified to do the work, but why you’d excel at it. You need to paint a picture of why you’d be awesome at this particular job that’s compelling enough to make you competitive with candidates who do have a track record in the work. What reason can you give them to pass up those people and talk with you instead? I can’t figure out that answer for you — but you’ve got to figure it out on your own, and explain it to them. That’s what will start getting you interviews. Related: Should you go to grad school? You may also like:why don’t hiring managers look for potential in people?when should I move education to the bottom of my resume?how do you get experience if all the jobs require you to already have experience?