3L job seekers’ strategies require identifying the tools in job search tool boxes, connecting with past and creating future contacts, and reviewing and revising resumes. And that’s for starters.
Frustrated job seekers often want to separate job search skills from the rest of their lives. Don’t do this. You will use all of your job search skills when you build your law practice (or other business), fundraise for your kids’ kindergarten, run a political campaign for yourself or your best pal, and manage projects at work.
Don’t put your skills in separate boxes.
Take a new look at all of your experience and acknowledge what you have learned.
In a headlong rush to get “a job, any job,” frustrated job seekers can fail to take stock of their experiences and go from an unpleasant frying pan to an equally awful fire.
Whether paid or unpaid, legal or non-legal, every kind of interaction that looked even vaguely like “work” has something to teach you.
- A Genius Manager If you worked for a Genius Manager, “management” was invisible. The office ran well, goals were achieved, and the atmosphere was generally pleasant. Good management looks easy.
- A Toxic Manager Ask anyone who has worked for incompetent management: Instead of everyone in the same boat, rowing more-or-less in the same direction, every element of getting work done happens on scales that range from mildly chaotic to wear-your-HazMat-Suit-toxic. Every day you said to yourself, “If I ever manage people, I will never do that!”
- Your day Did you enjoy collaboration? Did you hate it? Did you spending weeks in front of a computer in a litigation practice writing what seemed to be the 100-year Term Paper from Hell? Or did you relish every opportunity to working out intricate and complex arguments and apply your facts to them? Did you work in a quiet place or was there the gentle din of genial people working hard and sharing their highs and lows?
Every situation has something to teach you.
Each experience helps you answer “Do you have any questions?” so that you can continue to find good work sites and to avoid what you know will make you miserable.
Your Network: Find it. Work it. Give back to it.
- · Get out of your house. The dust bunnies under your bed are not hiring.
- · Tell everyone that you are hunting for a job and give them meaningful specific information about what you are looking for. Telepathy is not a job search tool.
Become an expert.
Interview lawyers who are doing what you want to do. Research some current and critical topics. Blog about what you learn. It is easier to hire someone who is on her way to becoming an expert on her own dime and her own time than it is to hire someone who says “Train me, I’m yours.”
Join the bar association. Find a committee and do something for it.
Volunteer. Build skills. Decide in real time whether you really want to work for individual clients or, for example, to do policy work.
Keep up your part-time job. Always do your best work. This may become a full-time job, and, in any event, you need an excellent reference.
Polish your presentation skills. Banish “ummm” and “I’m like” from your vocabulary. Check your posture. Shine your shoes.
Actively manage your electronic profile. Use LinkedIn and other tools wisely and well. Your electronic profile questions are answered in Amanda Ellis’ excellent 6 Ps of the Big 3, which gives specific instructions on using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for job searching.
Review your resume. Cover the basics (spelling; past tense for past jobs; present tense for current work), provide meaningful specific information when it will be useful to you; eliminate items that are painfully obvious.
1. All law clerks do “research and writing.” Tell a prospective employer about some of the topics you researched.
2. “Objective” is a redundant resume space-waster. In addition to taking up space, there are three problems with resume objectives:
- Obviousness 1. The purpose of presenting a resume to an employer is to secure a job. Whatever language that might be shoe-horned into an objective is better suited to a cover letter.
- Obviousness 2. The only real objective is a day’s pay for a day’s work. Everything else gilds the lily.
- Pompous Potential. The language in an objective is often the most pompous, obscure and contradictory collection of words that a candidate will ever draft. Consider this real example:
My background has cultivated an aptitude to articulate solutions and reasoning in a concise and discernible format. I am searching for opportunities, outside the jurisprudential sphere, which demand these skills, preferably in a public relational context.
3. “References on request” is another redundant resume space waster. “References Available on Request” are, perhaps, the four most useless words ever added to a resume. Should a prospective employer want to check references before making an offer, your refusal to provide them will tank your offer.