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Know thyself

updated on 20 May 2014

Until you know what you have to offer employers, how can you convince them that they need you in their team? Although an impressive list of experience is vital, it's useless if you don't show employers the skills you have gained. That's where MySelf, LawCareers.Net's free self-analysis tool, can help…

Two of the biggest mistakes that candidates make in applications are not properly analysing their activities and achievements to demonstrate skills that employers want, and not telling employers about such achievements effectively. LawCareers.Net's MySelf tool is designed to solve the first problem and, in turn, make solving the second a matter of common sense.  All you have to do to use it is become a member of MyLC.N.

MySelf works by allowing you to systematically analyse and record the activities and achievements you'll present to employers in application forms and on your CV. You need to take each individual experience - be it academic (degree, thesis, special project), extracurricular (societies, trips, charity initiatives) or work experience (vacation scheme, waitressing) - and think in depth about what you did, what skills or competencies you had to demonstrate and what you learnt, and then record which of these will be of interest to employers. Taking this systematic approach, not only you will  gain a much better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, but you will also have all this information at your fingertips, ready to blend together into the perfect application!

Once you've entered it into the system, each activity is broken down and scored for its relevance in demonstrating your competency in the six core areas that every law recruiter is looking for:

  • intellectual ability;
  • enthusiasm/drive/motivation/resilience;
  • accuracy/attention to detail;
  • teamwork/leadership;
  • commercial awareness; and
  • communication skills.

Once you have recorded all of your activities, the collected results are displayed on a summary chart showing, at a glance, where your strengths and weaknesses lie by plotting competencies against three areas of endeavour: academic, work experience and extracurricular. Each intersection between experience type and competency is coloured according to how well that combination is covered. A tick appears where you have experience with a top-ranked competency. You're aiming, of course, for a tick in every competency.

To explain better how it works, we'll take you through the process with a fictional candidate, Sam. The first step - after logging into MyLC.N and selecting MySelf - is to enter your activities and achievements; do this by clicking on the purple "Add experience" button at the top left-hand side of the page. You'll be asked to break down each activity into "Task", "Action" and "Response", and then to score the activity from one to five for level of competency.

The screenshot below shows the breakdown of Sam's vacation scheme experience.  

As you can see, Sam's vacation scheme experience demonstrates her communication skills, accuracy, teamwork and commercial awareness, but is less useful for showing her intellectual ability and motivation. She'd therefore want to use different activities (ones in which she scores highly) to demonstrate these.

After recording all of your activities and experience like this, click "Overview" to find out which competencies you score highly for and which you need to work on.

Sam's overview table shows that she's doing well as she has a tick in every competency. To improve, she could work on doing more to demonstrate her intellectual ability and motivation; although she has ticks for these, the boxes are not coloured the brightest shade of green (as the other four competencies are).

If you need more convincing that MySelf could be the difference between application success and failure, how about some objective opinion of the service's merits? The University of Law's Careers Team Manager Angela Smith says:

"MySelf is a brilliant tool for students and it will help them raise awareness of their hidden aptitudes and abilities. If you’re a student facing the task of job applications, my advice is to go to MySelf and try it out; it’s practical, easy to use and very useful!"

Finally, to get the most out of the service, remember to complete your MySelf analysis BEFORE you start making applications - if you have not properly analysed what you have achieved, you will make a bad application.