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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

March 3, 2017

The Employer Perspective: Tips for Getting to the Top of the Hiring Manager’s List

Julie Q. Brush

Many employers who read The Lawyer Whisperer write to me and express their viewpoints on a variety of hiring, interview and workplace topics. Several have inquired about sharing these views with my readers. This glimpse into an employer’s mind is invaluable for legal professionals. So it is in this spirit that I’ve created The Employer Perspective article series. These specialty articles, written by executives and hiring managers, provide their secrets on hiring practices, guidance for job seekers and general advice from the employer’s perspective.

Lisa Borgeson, Senior Director, Legal; Employment & Compliance at NetApp Inc. kicks off The Employer Perspective series with her article Tips for Getting to the Top of the Hiring Manager’s List. Here’s what Lisa has to say…….Enjoy!

Tips for Getting to the Top of the Hiring Manager’s List

You have been submitting your resume, working your network and interviewing like crazy. But somehow you never seem to get the offer. What can you do to get to the top of the hiring manager’s list?

When I post an open role on my team I frequently receive resumes from many qualified candidates. For me, the right skills and experience are table stakes – you will not get an interview without them, but it won’t be enough to get an offer. The legal professionals at my company are very integrated into our business, so I put a high premium on cultural fit both inside and outside the legal department. I want people who are adaptable and are learners, who are eager to stretch and grow. I like people who are passionate about their outside interests because they tend to be passionate about work too. Our legal department doesn’t turn over a lot of roles, so I am looking for someone who wants to grow their career at our company. Which candidates do I pluck from the pile for interviews and, more importantly, who gets the offer? Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you catch the eye of the hiring manager and claim that dream job.


Make your resume meaningful. In a field of qualified candidates, it is important that your resume stands out. Everyone lists their job titles and responsibilities. The candidate who highlights interesting projects or offers meaningful metrics for their work catches my eye. More than two pages or a deal sheet that includes everything you have ever touched and I will lose interest.

Ask questions. I like candidates who are curious and willing to stretch and try new things. When you land that coveted interview, be prepared with questions that show that you have done your homework about our company, our industry and the role. Candidates with no questions seem uninterested or worse, uninteresting.

Be prepared. I will not call you for an interview unless I think you have the skills and experience to do the job. I want to spend our interview time determining whether you are a good fit for our organization. Anyone can summarize the jobs they have held in the past. To get the offer, you need to come prepared with concise examples of your achievements, the important relationships you’ve built, and ideas you have for the role. Bonus points to the candidate who can acknowledge missteps and describe how they rectified the situation or learned from it.

Be authentically you. With fit at a premium, I want to get to know who you are. Don’t be afraid to let your personality and energy shine through. You don’t have to work your last marathon time into the conversation, but be prepared to make this a dialogue, rather than a deposition. I may ask you to tell me about what you enjoy outside of work and I am looking to see if we will have a good professional rapport.


Be untruthful. As a company, but especially as a legal department, integrity is paramount. I will automatically reject your candidacy if I find errors on your resume or you embellish your qualifications. Period. At best, these things make you appear to lack attention to detail, a key requirement for almost all legal professionals; at worst, they make you seem untrustworthy.

Professional courtesy. I prepare for my interview with you by reviewing your resume and developing thoughtful questions to get to know you. I show up on time and I devote my full attention to our conversation. You must do the same. Multitasking or taking a phone interview during your commute will not impress me.

Play it cool. If you are interested in the opportunity, show it by expressing your enthusiasm for the role and our company. Take notes and ask thoughtful questions. Offer your insights into the role and the value you could bring to it. If you want remain on my list, follow up with a carefully crafted thank you that reflects upon our conversation, but leave future follow ups with the recruiter to avoid putting me in an awkward spot.

In a crowded market, it takes extra preparation and effort to attract the hiring manager’s eye. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you will need to let your true self shine – in your resume, your questions, your career ambitions, and your interview answers. Doing your research on the role, our department, our company and our market will pay off dividends. When I make my choice, I am taking the long view. That means I’m looking for someone who will be a great fit long-term, who is curious and adaptable, and wants to grow and develop their career. I hope that it’s you.

Lisa Borgeson is the Senior Director, Legal; Employment & Compliance at NetApp Inc. For more information on Lisa’s impressive background, please visit her LinkedIn Profile.


If you are a hiring executive and are interested in contributing to The Employer Perspective series, please submit your article to info@thelawyerwhisperer.com and it will be reviewed for publication on The Lawyer Whisperer website. If selected, you will be notified by email with some kind of accompanying emoji.

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