Let's say you've decided to move into a non-legal career after years of working as an assistant in a law firm.

How will the hypothetical employer evaluate your application on the ground that you lack the relevant job experience for the position you're currently applying for?

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  • I edited this a bit to make it a better fit here, if that changed your intent to much feel free to edit and clarify yourself! – enderland Jan 30 '16 at 1:20

Will the hypothetical employer reject your application on the ground that you lack the relevant job experience for the position you're currently applying for?


You could have 30 years experience as the top lawyer in the country, but if you apply for a software engineering position, it won't be useful.

But that same lawyer could apply for a decent number of positions which are not "lawyers" but can use that experience (for example many politicians have legal backgrounds, for better or worse...).

The point is it is what your experiences are that matter. Being a legal assistant you do things X, Y and Z. Some of those things can translate outside the legal field, some cannot.

Experience doesn't have to map directly 1-1 to a potential job requirements. But the usefulness of it should loosely map to the needs of the potential job. The important thing is making clear how X, Y, and Z can be useful for the future job.

  • Downvoter care to comment? – enderland Jan 30 '16 at 1:26

Try not to think of it as the employer rejecting the experience. Instead, you should take on the task of demonstrating your experience is relevant. Did you manage the office? Answer phones? Plan travel? Invoice for completed work and follow up if payment was delayed?

Apply to a job doing for a non-law firm what you used to do for the law firm. Make sure your resume clearly tells the story of how great you are.


This is a common situation for people in the military. You join the army, where they teach you how to shoot guns and drive a tank. Then you go back to civilian life, where those particular skills don't apply. Now what?

When talking about your experience, often you have to step back from the specifics of your job and look at the big picture. Yes, the army teaches you how to fight and drive tanks. But more important, the army teaches collaboration. How to work as a team. How to work with other groups with different skill sets. How to plan and execute operations. How to work under pressure.

Don't focus on why they should NOT hire you. Focus on why they should. What do you bring to the table that other candidates don't have? Working as an assistant in a law firm is probably very different than working as an assistant in a firm that makes chewing gum. Figure out how to quantify and sell the set of skills you have.

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