The application period for OCI, otherwise known as bidding, will begin on July 1st and close on July 19th  at noon Pacific Daylight Time. It is not in your best interest to randomly select your potential employers so remember to carefully research and select to whom you would like to send your application.

Be prepared for OCI by starting early. Begin by polishing your resume and cover letter. In the handouts section of the website the LCS team has tips, tricks, and examples to perfect your cover letter, resume, and more. If you want more one-on-one help please make an appointment with us at the Law Career Center.

Once you have fine-tuned your application, the next step to sail through the OCI process is to perfect your ‘soft skills’. Jessica Sisco, the Manager of Legal Recruiting for Reed Smith’s Northern California offices, emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) when she is recruiting as well as when she’s on employer panels. Below she gives her advice for mastering social smarts.



The Hard Truth About Soft Skills: Social Smarts Set You Apart From the Pack

Times New Roman or Arial, one-pager versus two, there’s one important thing your resume just won’t be able to capture this OCI season – and that’s your emotional intelligence (EQ).  As a recruiting manager, my hiring committee and I will conduct over 160 interviews this OCI season, and EQ skills are hands down the trending topic in our hiring meetings.  EQ skills like self-awareness, communication know-how and social adaptation are most apparent during the interviews and networking events of OCI, and they can – and often DO – mean the difference between a ding letter and lining up a way to pay off those student loans.

Candidates who flex their EQ in the recruitment process make themselves memorable long after the interview.  In decision meetings, they are the students who “communicate effectively,” “forged a connection” and “just seem to get it.”  Simply put, high EQ-ers are able to line up their intent with their impact; others (aka interviewers) perceive them as they want to be perceived.  What’s most interesting is that many students have zero idea how important social skills are in landing a job. Thus, High EQ = A Soft Skill Edge Over the Competition.

While you’re not likely to see a soft skill EQ class on your law school’s fall roster of courses, you can strengthen your social prowess to prepare for interviews and networking events.  Here are two ways to ensure that your intent and impact are aligned for this OCI season:

1)  Inward Looking: Self-Awareness.  Choose an action you carry out in a group meeting or seminar – listening, talking, sitting.  Focus on this action in several different meeting scenarios in order to uncover patterns.  Do you look the speaker in the eye while listening or do you look away?  Do you nod at some things the speaker says or at everything?  Do you interrupt or do you wait until the other person has finished?  Do you take long pauses with “uhs” in between?

Once you discover patterns in your actions, think about what they imply – what impact they might have on others. If you nod constantly while someone else is talking, the speaker may assume you agree with everything she says and that you want to hear more – which may not be the case.  When you speak, if you pause and say “uh” a lot, people might think you have a weak grasp of the subject.  By becoming aware of your actions, you’re able to alter them so that they work better for you.  Voila!  Align your intent and impact.

2) Outward Looking: Social Awareness.  Choose an action you perform.  Let’s say it’s volunteering an answer in lecture.  Now pay attention to how others respond to your action. How often do you raise your hand?  Are other students missing out because the professor always calls on you?  What are the reactions every time you volunteer – sighs, eye-rolling?  By understanding HOW your actions affect people – your impact – you can modify your actions so they affect people as you WANT them to.  Notice when your intent does not match your impact and try different behaviors in that scenario.

Stand out from the crowd this OCI season by putting those social smarts to use!  Oh, and go with the Times New Roman one-pager. J

The legal industry is not alone in its emphasis on emotional intelligence.  A recent Business Insider article revealed that Yale School Management is testing its current incoming class for social smarts to determine if skills like accurately understanding and managing emotions and the ability to adapt to social cues can actually predict a student’s future success.  While we may not know the answer for several years, we DO know that social smarts often have an impact on hiring and recruiting decisions.  Read the article here:

Hendrie Weisinger’s Emotional Intelligence at Work: The Untapped Edge for Success is a great source for additional EQ-building exercises.  These suggestions were adapted from his book. 

Jessica Sisco is the Manager of Legal Recruiting for Reed Smith’s Northern California offices.  She has been in the talent management field for seven years and holds a B.A. in Communication from Stanford University and an M.S. in Organization Development from University of San Francisco.  She has spoken on numerous law school employer panels and designed a course entitled “Emotional Intelligence: How Social Smarts = Success in Lawyer Land.”  Callback season is her favorite time of year.




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