Graduate Recruitment Blog Australia

Advice on Graduate and Internship Programs

October 12th, 2016

GradConnection talks to Fusion Graduate Consultancy about who they are and what sets them apart from the crowd, as well as their involvement in the Top100 Graduate Employer and Future Leader Awards.

How did Fusion begin?

The founders, Paula Gepp and David Cvetkovski had both been leading Graduate Program Managers for many years and with extensive knowledge of the industry were constantly frustrated by the lack of specialist graduate suppliers in the market. Armed with industry knowledge, a wide network of relationships and a whole lot of passion for everything graduate we established & Fusion Graduate Consultancy in 2008. The aim was to provide specialised graduate expertise for the attraction, recruitment and development of graduates.

What do you do differently from everyone else?

Our sole focus is on graduate recruitment and development. We are specialised and experienced in the graduate industry and can use our expertise and our networks to deliver a boutique, relationship and results-based service. The small size of our organisation means that we are nimble and agile and can make things happen quickly. And our extensive knowledge and networks mean that our clients have one, trustworthy source from which to access everything they need.

What drove you to become involved with the Top100 Graduate Employer and Future Leader Awards?

We love the graduate industry and we just can’t help ourselves! When we saw an opportunity to showcase what we do as well as give something back to the industry (and its stakeholders) we jumped at it. We believed in the potential of the competition and wanted to play our part in making sure it was best practice and industry leading. The competition is a great initiative for students, providing them valuable exposure to graduate recruitment processes; for employers by providing them with early access to fresh talent; and for universities to showcase the employability of their students.

What is the most interesting thing about Fusion, that we wouldn’t learn from your company website or profile?

Coffee, we drink lots of coffee! And we like to have fun. In fact, one of our favourite company values is “to always make time for a laugh with each other and with our clients (ideally over a coffee or wine), and look out for each other’s happiness and wellbeing”.

What inspires Fusion?

The opportunity we have to share our expertise and thought leading opinion of graduate recruitment and development with like-minded, passionate graduate managers and the broader industry. For us it’s about people, relationships, sharing and coffee and challenging the status-quo while truly feeling like we add value.

We have heard you have occasional "Bring your pup to work days - Can you show us the dogs hard at work?


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September 28th, 2016

Always improving your efficiency is at the core of a great business and the same applies to recruiting top talent. The old way of putting an advert on the web and hoping for the best just isn’t good enough anymore.

Interviewing processes have changed - don’t get left behind

One of the most overlooked improvements in business is how you hire talent. Right now the most cutting edge recruiting technologies is digital automated video interviewing - it’s how forward-thinking businesses are pulling ahead of the rest.

Using a video interviewing platform like Vieple gives you great financial and time-saving benefits:

  • Reduced hire times
  • Lowered associated costs
  • Better talent pool to pick from
  • A distinct competitive advantage

Video interviewing - what exactly is it?

Vieple is an online video recording platform for interviewing candidates. It’s easy to learn and easy to use, and best of all, having all your candidates in one convenient place means you don’t have to waste time scheduling interviews. Screen the applicants at a time that works for you and get the best talent on offer.


Improve your ROI

Using Vieple has many benefits over the “old-school” way of doing things. Don’t waste time waiting for candidates to show up at your door. Right away you’ll see improved productivity, and travel costs and other expenses will be dramatically lower.

You’ll also get access to the cream of the crop. One of the huge benefits of Vieple is that it puts the responsibility onto the candidates. Straight away you’ll see who makes the shortlist.

Find the right people with Vieple


Try Vieple now for free and find out for yourself how much you can save.

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September 28th, 2016

Video interviewing is fast becoming the preferred way for employers and recruitment agencies to create short lists of candidates. For candidates, this move away from phone screening can be confronting at first, but when you understand why recruiters are moving to video interviewing and a few simple techniques on how to make the most from this opportunity, it will all seem a lot less daunting.

Why video interviewing?

Candidates and recruiters are becoming more time poor. Phone screening can be hard to coordinate and doesn’t always give the interviewer a clear understanding of a candidate. Video interviewing can be more convenient for both candidates and recruiters, and in the case of recorded video interviewing systems, can be conducted at a time and place that is more practical.


Video interviewing types

There are two key types of video interviewing in use: live and recorded. Live interviewing often occurs using a technology such as Skype where the interview takes place in real time. Unfortunately, with live video interviewing there is a good chance that you will have to work with interviewers around technical issues with video lag and dropouts, and also interview on scheduled time.

The other, preferred video interviewing technique is recorded interviews. The best systems allow you to go online and conduct your interview at a time and place that suits your busy lifestyle. Recorded video interviewing is also a better way of making sure that all candidates are given the same chance, as the questions are delivered in the same format for everyone.

Now that you understand the difference between live and recorded video interviewing, we can help you understand the fundamentals on how to present the best impression for your video interview.


Sound is one of the more obvious areas where candidates fail with video interviews. Before you start your video interview, test the sound as well as the volume. With live video, the interviewer can give you feedback if there is a problem with sound but with recorded video you won’t receive feedback until after the interview has been viewed. The best recorded video interviewing systems like Vieple allow you a test question where you can test your sound setup before you start your interview.

Lighting and camera position

An over lit or under lit video looks unprofessional. Check the lighting to make sure that it presents you and your surroundings in the most positive light. The same is true of camera position. No one wants to be looking up your nose for the entire interview.

Make sure you set up the camera so that you are in the centre of the frame and the camera is at your eye level. If you are using the camera on your laptop, prop it up with something so that the camera is at eye level. Also make sure that you are not too far or too close to the camera. Where you sit may be limited by the strength of your microphone but try to sit so that your head and the top half of your torso are in the frame.

Set the scene

Remember to check everything within the frame of the video. Remove anything that may be inappropriate or distracting. The less there is in the frame, the less distraction there is from you. Also make sure that nobody can walk into the frame accidently during your videos as this can distract both you and the interviewer and is viewed as unprofessional. It may be a good idea to notify anyone present in your immediate environment, that you are completing a video interview and wish to remain uninterrupted for that period of time.

Choose your clothing wisely

Keep it simple and avoid patterns and fine stripes. Small format video struggles to render both. Choose solid, conservative colours (except bright white). If you want to see what works best on video, consider what news presenters wear. Also, make sure that what you are wearing is appropriate for the position. If the position requires you to wear a suit, dress in a suit. If the dress standard is more casual, wear smart casual.

Make eye contact

That usually means looking at the camera. Constantly looking out of frame is distracting and can create the impression that you’re disinterested. If you have notes, use them for preparation but try not to use them during the interview.

Monitor yourself

With video interviewing systems such as Vieple, you have a picture of yourself on the bottom right hand side of the screen. Are you sitting very far forward in your chair? Is your body language showing interest? You'd be amazed at what an interviewer can read just from how you’re sitting. You can practice before the interview, using just your webcam and recording yourself. Ask others for input and feedback.

Now you’re ready for your video interview

Like any interview, your success in a video interview comes down to preparation. Practice with your webcam using the tips above until you feel confident and comfortable, and you will give yourself the best chance of making a lasting impression. Good luck.


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September 21st, 2016

It's been an exciting time at GradConnection with applications for our 3rd annual Top100 Future Leader Awards coming to a close recently. We are thrilled with the response this year and look forward to the 2017 Awards night - being held on February 9th at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney once more.

We have 11 student awards this year and early numbers point to more and more students putting their hands up and vying for a spot. Applicants are currently being put through their paces​ and from here the entrants are going to be assessed using the process designed by Fusion Graduate Consultancy, which consists of the following stages;

​We hope to have the brand spanking new Top100 on the site soon!

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September 21st, 2016


For the third year running GradConnection in association with the Australian Financial Review (AFR) will be publishing the Top100 Most Popular Graduate Employer list.

Did your company make the Top100 list this year? The provisional results show some interesting changes to the results from 2015, with some amazing leaps in ranks as well as some new entrants. And with just over a month left of data to collect who knows what could happen!

Each year this list is published on our website for all students to view as well in the Australian Financial Review (AFR), Australia’s primary source for business news. Excitingly, since last year, the GradConnection Top100 Employer feature within the AFR has grown from a 12 page pull out to a complete glossy magazine!

The GradConnection Top100 magazine provides a wide variety of options for advertising to promote your organisation and its success in the 2016 Top100 rankings.

If you have made the provisional Top100 rankings, a representative from the AFR will be in contact to organise a time to speak to you about the advertising opportunities.

If you would like to speak to someone sooner about this or would like to discuss the Top100 rankings and the AFR feature, please feel free to contact your GradConnection Account Manager or Resh on 0416 516 748 or [email protected]

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Sustainable Graduate Recruitment

Posted by Nikki Barnard

September 20th, 2016

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider, Harrier Human Capital, recently released a whitepaper on delivering sustainable graduate recruitment. As we all know, grad recruitment is an important pipeline for organisations to consistently grow their talent and drive innovation, flexibility, knowledge share, loyalty and retention. But what's the impact of turning off the talent tap when economic times get tough? If your organisation is under pressure to cut entry level recruitment efforts, Client Solutions Manager Lindsey Barnett suggests this paper might cause you to rethink….

Human Resources Interview Recruitment

Why organisations don’t recruit

‘Graduates are too expensive’. ‘There’s an oversupply of graduates – the market’s flooded’. ‘Our business is cutting back on recruitment at every level – why would we hire graduates?’ These are just some of the reasons that organisations use for not recruiting grads or, even worse, cutting their recruitment efforts mid-cycle when times get tough.

Hiring graduates is essential

Harrier works with clients to help their key decision makers understand the flipside:

  • That graduate hiring brings fresh talent into a business.
  • That it creates and develops a talent pipeline for the future of organisations.
  • That it can counteract the effect of an ageing and retiring workforce and bring new skills, knowledge and innovation to the workplace.
  • Hiring grads ensures businesses remain competitive and current, and can assist with organisational culture changes.
  • Many companies even recruit entry level hires to meet their short term requirements for lower level roles and qualified labour at reduced salaries.

Naturally all of this must be underpinned by an understanding of, and alignment with, business objectives, which can sometimes be overwhelming: But that’s what we’re there for!

Halting recruitment can be detrimental

If cost cutting is a factor, or redundancies are on the agenda, the flow of graduate talent is often seen as an easy tap to turn off. After all, if your organisation is downsizing, how and why would it justify recruiting for entry level roles? Halting graduate recruitment, letting go of important university partnerships and retrenching graduate recruitment managers is easily done, but not as easily recovered when business improves. Employer brand takes a long time to build and a moment to destroy: A sudden disappearance of presence in the market now will affect engagement with your brand when things pick up again. However, putting a robust business case forward and managing the internal messaging as others are redeployed can be difficult.

Sustainable graduate recruitment

Education Career Opportunities

So how can graduate recruitment be sustainable when the economy slows? What can proactive HR departments build into their business case for new or continued efforts in graduate recruitment and development? Our whitepaper explores four major components that can help in securing time, money and resources in a budget-focused, cost effective way:

  1. Align graduate recruitment with the organisation’s broader people strategy
  2. Differentiate yourself as an employer
  3. Maximise low cost engagement opportunities
  4. Measure return on investment

Whilst it may currently be a buyer’s market, ignoring the need for a consistent pipeline of entry level employees as part its wider people strategy can ultimately be detrimental to an organisation’s growth and competitiveness. Hiring a pipeline of entry level employees will help guide, build and shape the workforce of the future.

Read on to find out more

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September 15th, 2016

The Gaming Pathway to IT

From an early age, one of my favourite past times was to head around to my extended family's house, not to be a good relative, but because my cousin had recently become the proud owner of a brand new Sega Master System II. Revolutionary for its time, this gaming console played some of the greatest games ever made from Alex the Kidd and Sonic the Hedgehog through to classics like Double Dragon and we would play for hours.

My love of gaming is something that has stuck with me, from a young age right the way through to high school, where after I continued down the IT path. I made a lot of friends along the way with similar interests - the majority now working in the tech and IT space.

With time, gaming and computers only got better and better,which unfortunately also meant that prices began to increase. Even though I hated this fact as a poor student, it became something to be thankful for as it enabled me to begin learning my IT skill set from an early age.

It was through the following methods that my IT journey began:

  • Expensive hardware - Buying gaming PC’s was expensive for a student at high school, building them was much more cost effective. Determined to have my own gaming PC,by the age of 14 had built my first gaming rig and, in the process, had also received a crash course in computer hardware. This later put some cash in my pocket as I began to build computers for others.
  • Expensive games - There were some gray areas on acquiring games without actually paying for them is all I’m going to say on this matter. A game of cat and mouse with game developers is where I learnt all about file systems, config files and minor coding changes with an aim to get around certain “obstacles”.

By the end of this process, I knew my way around computers and technology - both physically and virtually and when it came to being gently encouraged out the door at 18, IT was top of the table for what I should study at university.

Understanding this pathway and journey into the world of technology has turned out to be even more relevant than ever before and here’s why:

eSports and the GradConnection University eSports League!

Ignoring IT pathways ,computer games are now big business - one of the biggest in fact - worth billions and billions of dollars. What has been a hobby for most has now grown into a professional sport with millions (many like myself with a love for technology) tuning in to watch people play competitive computer games, just like they would the rugby league or AFL.

To put this in perspective, last year 4.4 million tuned in to watch the NRL grand final, however 27 million people tuned in to watch the League of Legends computer game finals!

Check out some of the events which have been taking place around the world but also now in Australia!

Forget hackathons - eSports and gaming are your newest, most untapped, up-to-date and relevant way to not only find these IT students, but to also be able to interact with them in a very positive and comfortable way. Many students gravitating towards IT have had a similar journey to mine into the profession of IT and, knowing this, you can use this information to your advantage.

Here is what you need to know:

  • The average age of participants in eSports is 21 years old and have an interest in tech and IT.
  • A much larger percentage of participants are female, compared to the current 15% graduating with IT degrees within Australia.
  • Gaming is one of the fastest growing industries with many big brands from LG through to Telcos and various airlines sponsoring some of the most notorious teams and competitions, however, it is brand new in the attraction space.
  • This is the origin of gamification being used in recruitment around the world.

With great enthusiasm, GradConnection is proud to present the University eSports League - a first for Australian attraction and one of the newest and coolest ways to attract Australia’s most sought after tech talent.

What is it you ask? The UEL is:

  • A nationwide eSports tournament amongst university students across the whole country. Preliminary rounds will begin online, culminating with the final taking place in Sydney. Finalists will be flown in from around the country to take part in an absolutely awesome studio finals.
  • A chance for organisations to take part, support this community and interact with these students from a very early stage.

Want to know more?

If you are interested in finding out more email [email protected], or your account manager, for a full info pack or a chat and a coffee. Make sure to contact us to find out all you need to know about the industry and how to get in early as there are limited sponsorship opportunities available for the first ever University eSports League.

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September 14th, 2016

benefits of clubs and organisations

Whether you have just graduated or you are in your last years and building your resume, getting involved and being a part of a club, or even the president of a club can boost your chances with your future job prospects. During your job search, no matter what kind of job you are looking for, they will require you to show your skills and abilities that are beyond academic achievements. Adding the clubs and organisations you were involved in to your resume gives you a competitive advantage when job searching. 

Your involvement in clubs and organisations allows you to develop skills that can be used in a real working environment. Your resume may be able to highlight these skills to grab the attention of potential employers. There are a variety of skills and qualities that you are able pick up from the clubs and organisations such as1:

  • Time management
  • Organisation
  • Leadership
  • Project management
  • Employee management
  • Book-keeping / budget
  • Problem-solving
  • People skills
  • Writing and reporting skills
  • Communication skills
  • Experience in office-simulated environment 

These skills that you may receive and develop can be used as an advantage on your resume. Clubs that you may be able to include into your resume could include:

  • Volunteer clubs;
  • By including volunteer clubs and organisations, employers are able to directly see your character and work etiquette around the workplace
  • Sports clubs and;
  • Including sports clubs could highlight your skills of leading and team work on your resume
  • Professional clubs
  • Professional clubs and organisations are the most beneficial to your resume as they put you into a space that reflects the type of work that you may be working with in your future career

Not only does extra-curricular activities allow you to develop soft skills, it also develops your character and work etiquette. These kinds of traits appeal to employers and allows you to have the benefit of becoming a higher potential. These traits show that you are able:

  • Be committed
  • Prioritise and meet deadlines
  • Multi-task
  • Network

Not only do clubs and organisations provide opportunities to be social, there are a few main reasons to why you should join clubs and organisations that also help you in your resume and also in becoming a potential employee. As mentioned, clubs and organisations allow you to3:

  • Create a Network
  • Networking is an important factor in job searching and through clubs and organisations, you are able to build your network with the people within the club and even small connections with similar clubs. Not only will you find students and professionals with similar interest, you have to opportunity to take information and resources from them that can help you in your future career.
  • Gain Professional and Practical Experience
  • Organisations and clubs that lean towards the professional side also exist and these clubs are able to give you a professional-like environment and experience that you may be able to find and apply to your future career.
    Participating in clubs and organisations also gives the opportunity for you to get the practical experience that you may want in an environment that is safe. You are able to use your skills that you have learnt and apply them within the club that could help build your potential and gives you the space to improve before moving to a real work environment.
  • Gain Leadership, Organisation and Management skills
  • As mentioned, clubs and organisations allows you to develop skills in an environment that you’re comfortable with. This can also allow you to establish your abilities and apply them through various activities.
    Joining clubs and organisations that are also related to your major and course allows you to get that extra experience that you may need as well as develop your skills even more so. Taking the role of a leader can also be of great benefit while applying for jobs as they will reflect your behaviour. Leadership positions are important to highlight in your resume as employers would be looking for candidates that are able to have the traits of a leader.

What is important with involving yourself in clubs and organisations is that it gives you the opportunity to expand and broaden achievements in your resume other than having academic achievements. The activities that you have participated in would benefit you and give you the advantage of having done more experience than other competitors. Not only do you receive skills and experience from being involved, you are also giving back. Many organisations and clubs hold events and provide acts of service that allows you to give back to the community while getting that experience.

Although joining a club or organisation may take extra time and require some sacrifice, it has a lot offer and will help make your resume shine amongst the crowd; the more involved you are with your club, the better it will look on your resume. Through your participation and involvement, it is able to showcase your character and skills. The results of joining and participating in clubs and organisations will help you in the long run and benefit you in your future career and job searches.

1 ToughNickel. 2016, How to Use Activities and Clubs to Improve a Resume,
2 Graduate School of Education & Human Development, Campus Life: Joining Clubs and Organizations,
Baratta, M. 2010, Improve your student life and future job prospects by getting involved at school this year,

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September 9th, 2016

The world of social media is a big one and it seems to be growing by the minute. We are all aware of the advertising potential that social media is said to have, but the truth is that there are very few of us who know exactly how to get the most out of this very useful resource.

As Facebook is the forerunner in the social media popularity race, according to Statista with around 1.712 million active users, it is a great platform to start with when looking at social media as a marketing and graduate recruitment tool. With the ever evolving and fast-moving world of social media, it is vital that employers start thinking about how they are currently engaging and recruiting talent.


Here are a few important factors to be aware of when using Facebook for graduate attraction:

Branding, branding, branding

Raising brand awareness is key and should be at the very top of your company’s social media agenda. If you want to attract young graduates you need to go where they are - on social media. Once you have established your company page and have used the necessary advertising options available, you can start loading graduate specific posts.

Aimed at grabbing the attention of students and recent graduates, these posts should give the potential recruits a better idea of what your company is all about, and more importantly, your company’s culture. Aside from the obvious job listings, posting photos of your employees, company events and the like will not only increase brand awareness but overall appeal as well.

What’s on offer?

Every campaign needs a draw card and providing graduates with information about what’s on offer will undoubtedly be the difference between your campaign and others out there. On platforms such as Facebook, being somewhat boastful about your company’s mentorship and training programs will go a long way. The best and brightest in your industry will be attracted by these programmes, as they will see them as useful tools which will enable them to grow and develop within their careers.

Driving traffic is key

As simple as it sounds, the whole point of marketing through a social media channel such as Facebook is to use it as a catalyst to drive traffic to your company website. According to Shareaholic, collectively the top eight social networks drove 31.24% of overall traffic to websites in December 2014, 24.63% of which was from Facebook alone. 


Adding links to blog posts and other relevant information on your company website, such as the different mentorship programmes on offer, will all assist in increasing traffic to your company page. Once on the site the potential graduate will be able to learn more about your company and will further increase awareness and interest.

How can we help?

If you would like to know more about what might be an optimal strategy for your programme, please contact your Account Manager (see details below), or if you are new to GradConnection please email [email protected].

Dan Purchas – [email protected]

Dave Jenkins – [email protected]

Mike Casey – [email protected]

Andrew Purchas – [email protected]

Resh Perera – [email protected]

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How to win the clerkship hunger games

Posted by Will , Law Land (Australia), HR

August 25th, 2016

How to win the clerkship hunger games

Do you have any idea how you'll be assessed during your clerkship? It's taken me almost two years of working as a junior lawyer at a top tier firm to figure out what partners and senior lawyers really look at when offer day rolls around.

If you would like a little inside information on how you'll be assessed, read on.

Let the games begin
Let the games begin.

There are two sections to this post:

  1. first, the guiding principles of a clerkship - these could make or break your clerkship so make sure you’re aware of them; and
  2. second, a short list of commonly observed clerk behaviors - here you’ll find some tips and tricks to help you along the way.

I've learnt a lot about how the recruitment process works by speaking to colleagues on recruitment committees, observing clerks myself (through delegating work and during social events), and from overhearing partners talk. How little I knew when I took on my clerkship!

The aim of this post is to bring some clarity and insight into how you’ll be assessed, and what will be expected of you.

The guiding principles of a clerkship

Much like the overarching obligations that all lawyers are compelled to comply with, there are two overarching principles that you should keep in mind during your clerkship. These are absolutely critical from the moment you walk through the firm's doors.

Be confident in your work product

One of the most important assets (though definitely not the most important asset) at your disposal during your clerkship is your work product. Your work product is ultimately what you hand up to your supervising lawyer, which will probably be a memorandum, small research note or draft email to a client. However, it also involves your ability to research, understand and synthesise information, and present that information in an appropriate way for the intended audience.

Some clerks still worry that their work product isn't good enough, despite the fact that they won out against hundreds or thousands of other applicants. Believe me, it is. You wouldn't have been offered a clerkship if your work product at uni didn't fall on the far right hand side of the bell curve. And yes, there really were that many applicants!

Use this knowledge to your advantage: give everything your best shot, and be confident in your ability to create top notch work. If a partner is confident in your ability to do the job right then it makes their life easier. They want to have confidence in you, so give that to them.

I just wanted to get this out of the way immediately because it can cause a lot of anxiety for clerks. Your work product is good enough for you to be there, so don't doubt yourself.

Understand how your actions affect the way you’re perceived

This is the single biggest risk factor for clerks. I've see many chances of an offer derailed by small, thoughtless acts.

If you haven't realised yet, you are judged by people on what you let them see. The limited timeframe of a clerkship means that no one has the time to get to know you, so any small quirk or mistake will stand out and won't be forgiven.

If you are on a three week clerkship, you absolutely must consider how the firm is perceiving you. You're in a better position if you have a three month clerkship because the lawyers you work with have an opportunity to get to know you, but you should still be diligent.

So what could you do that people will notice? Here are just a few things that I've seen over the last few years:

  • turning up 10 minutes late each day
  • wearing headphones at your desk
  • failing to show enough enthusiasm (being far too laid back)
  • unnecessarily staying back later than everyone else
  • being too informal, both in conversations with colleagues and, for example, in the way you dress on casual Fridays. Pro tip: don't wear t-shirts
  • telling sexist or racist jokes (it's embarrassing that I even need to list this one here - seriously, what are some people thinking!)

If you’re wondering who actually cares about these sorts of things, the answer is: everyone.

This all boils down to social awareness - a firm could never put someone without any social awareness in front of a client, because there is no way to know whether they will act appropriately or not. That means no grad offer.

At the risk of repeating myself, it's the perception you are creating that is important, and the questions which lead from it:

  • Obviously, turning up late isn't going to affect your work product. But this is the thought pattern of a lawyer observing it: Is this clerk that disorganised or does he just not care? Can I trust him to get my work in on time? Doesn't he realise how bad this looks?
  • Listening to music at your desk doesn't mean you're a horrible person who should never practise as a solicitor. But this is what some people will think: What is she listening to and is she actually focused on the task? I need to speak to her about the work I gave her, should I interrupt? This is pretty inconvenient and annoying.

It might help to put it in a non work context: imagine two people having a conversation. While the first is talking about their weekend, the second isn't paying attention and is instead thinking about something else. The act of thinking about something else isn't the issue, it’s the failure to recognise that this behaviour is rude.

It's also an exercise in comparisons - if the clerk sitting next to you doesn't make these faux pas, then they win the hunger games. So how do you actually pass the test? By being kind, considerate, and if you’re a naturally outrageous person, just holding that inappropriateness at bay until the clerkship is over. Let it all out once you have the graduate offer and when you’re not being compared to the person beside you anymore.

This isn’t rocket science. Just remember, law firms want people who can interact with us and our clients, so if you can display enough social awareness to navigate through everyday situations, the firm will be confident that you’ll act appropriately when they let you loose on their clients.

The list - six short scenarios to consider during your clerkship

The aim of this section is to highlight a few examples of behaviours that are generally considered favourably by law firms, and some that are not.

I don't want to tell you how to act - you’re the one who has to decide whether to modify your behaviour (some people hate the idea of this) or double down (and accept the risk that it won’t be viewed positively). At the end of the day, everyone is different and you can't predict how every single person will react to you during your clerkship, so find a balance that you’re comfortable with and run with it.

Here we go.

That’s you on the right. Just keep it together and you’ll be fine.
That’s you on the right. Just keep it together and you’ll be fine.

Be human (don't be a sociopath)

Hopefully this falls into the obvious category, but it's worth noting early: act like a normal human being.

It can be intimidating when you enter a new working environment, especially as a law student without any significant legal experience. The best way to approach this situation at your firm is to treat the lawyers like normal people. We're not that weird.

Plus, everyone loves clerks! You will find that everyone will make the time to chat and answer questions, so make the most of it. If you make the effort to take an interest in people, they will probably remember you when the recruitment committee sends an email around asking for people's impressions of the clerks. It sounds horrible and manipulative writing it down, but making people like you should be an aim of your clerkship.

There’s only one thing to watch out for; lawyers can be pretty busy (especially senior lawyers), so don’t bail anyone up for 15 minutes and force a conversation out of them. If you would like to speak to someone for a little longer, ask them if they have some time in their calendar for a coffee. This way, they can find a time when they don’t have any deadlines or demanding clients to deal with.

Communicate with your work providers

If you are running behind on something and think you might miss a deadline, it's always better to flag it earlier rather than later.

One of the hardest things about a clerkship is managing competing commitments (and sometimes you will intentionally be given extra tasks just to test you). The key word here is managing - its very common to have competing commitments as a junior lawyer and you will frequently need to discuss new timeframes with your supervisor. This is fine, as long as you communicate early.

It helps to think of it from your work providers perspective - if they get notice early they can manage the situation by asking someone else to help, but if they get notice too late, then it limits their options. That means that they might have to deal with an annoyed colleague or client.

So communicate early and often, because before you know it, you’ll be out of time. And definitely speak up if you have suddenly been given five pieces of work by five different people. In this situation, you should go back to your supervising partner and ask them how they want the tasks prioritised. Always shift the onus onto a partner in this situation - the rest of the lawyers will accept their wishes.

I’m not saying this is an easy thing to do as a clerk (in fact, it’s still on my list of things to improve on), but it’s better than having to explain why you missed a deadline.

Leave at an appropriate time

To be honest, I think this one is pretty unfair: many clerks are judged unfavourably for working late. It's ridiculous because as soon as law graduates hit the floor, they will be expected to stick around until the work is done, regardless of time.

This is probably due to the perception that clerks will not be overloaded during their clerkship (which may or may not be the case). Therefore, when senior lawyers see you staying back to 7 or 8pm, they assume you’re mismanaging your time.

The best way to approach this is to take your cues from the other junior lawyers - don't stick around when they’re leaving, unless you've been told by your work provider to stay back to finish something. (And of course, you won’t be staying back late to meet a deadline because you would have already communicated your position early, as noted above!)

If you really do need more time to finish something, I'd suggest printing your work out (including any research you might need) and taking it home to finish. It’s a pretty crappy workaround, but as I said earlier, a large part of this is perception, and you won’t get penalised by doing it this way.

What to do if you don't know what to do.

Sometimes you'll get an assignment that’s a little over your head. First of all, don't stress. Take some time to think it through, prepare a brief plan or outline, and then make a start. Whatever you end up with is probably much better than you think!

It's definitely worth talking to another clerk and asking for a general sense check. Do they agree with your reasoning or conclusion? Sometimes just talking through a task with someone will help clarify things.

You can also ask a junior lawyer or two for help. They might be able to provide some better insights than a clerk (but still talk to a clerk to iron out the obvious issues first)!

If you’ve talked to a few people and still think something is wrong (or you’re so confused you don't even know where to start!), then go back and speak to your work provider. There is absolutely nothing wrong in asking them to clarify their instructions, and this sort of communication is generally valued. A problem will only arise when you don't understand something, and can't be bothered trying to figure it out on your own first.

Don't be negative

Lawyers have a special kind of love for complaining, probably due to the high pressure environment they are in all day. As a clerk you should avoid this at all costs.

You might get roped into this situation when you’re chatting to other junior lawyers who are complaining about the firm or their workload. It can be be tempting to agree, just to feel included and be part of the conversation.

Make no mistake - they work there, so social convention allows them to get away with it (and besides, they're probably just letting off some steam). As a clerk you’re still an outsider, so if you join in you will not only be insulting the firm, the lawyers will feel like you’re insulting them too.

You obviously can’t just stand there and say nothing, so what can you do? I’d suggest applying some of that social awareness you have, and instead of feeding on the negativity, be sympathetic. There is a world of difference between saying “wow, working to 1am sounds pretty rough, do you think the workload will ease up any time soon? Can you take some annual leave for a break?” and “yeah, working to 1am is ridiculous, this firm does seem pretty crappy”.

Stay in touch!

Only around 40-60 people (that's you) from up to or over 1000 applicants are given this golden card to keep in touch with the firm. Networking plays such an important role in creating opportunities for yourself, and it's astounding how few clerks make use of the post clerkship period to network!

I understand why it can be difficult. Here are some of my reasons for only catching up with two or three people after my clerkship, and some responses gained with the benefit of hind-sight.

  • I don't want to bother people (you won't)
  • I might waste someone's time (they will tell you if they're busy)
  • How am I going to keep a conversation going with someone I hardly know? (just ask them about their career, try to show a little commercial nous by asking what it is about their work that their clients value the most, and talk about what you’re doing at uni)
  • What it it ends up being awkward? (don't worry, the lawyer should have enough social awareness to end the conversation civilly, and you’ll still get credit for initiating the meeting and showing enthusiasm).

It goes without saying that you should be reaching out to both junior and senior lawyers, including partners. As I said earlier, everyone loves clerks, and lawyers are always decaffeinated - it’s perfect!

Don't like the man telling you how to act?

I understand if this post rubs off the wrong way on some people - in a way, I'm saying that you should change how you act, or change who you are, just make a good impression. What a sellout!

I do sympathise, but I also think that's being a little bit too dramatic. Everyone modifies their behaviour every single day to suit the situation. For example, despite how I feel, I will be more courteous that I want to be on public transport, I will be extra sympathetic if I feel my friends need it, and I will be more formal that I want to in a professional environment if I don't know the people across the table from me.

It's all part of the game, so play by the rules for now, and soon you'll be in a position to treat them more like guidelines.

Good luck!

Hopefully this post has provided you with a few insights on what law firms look at, and how you'll be assessed, during the clerkship hunger games.

If you asked me to summarise this entire post into a few sentences, this is it: You’ve done really well to land a clerkship. You’re obviously a high-performing individual so be confident when you walk through those doors. Just remember that you’re always being assessed, which means you need to act like a normal human being. If you can be kind and courteous to everyone, and give your work 100%, you’ll be great. And don’t forget to reach out for a coffee (or three) once your clerkship ends!

Will is the anonymous author behind Australia’s fastest growing law student blog, You’ve Entered Law Land. Head across to his blog for some more insights on studying law and improving your chances of landing that grad job.

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