We don’t know about you, but we are beginning to hear things might be looking up a teensy bit in the job market for lawyers. So if you had become so discouraged you tucked the old resume away in your hope chest for future generations … well, it might be time to dust it off. To give you a nudge in the right direction, we asked five of our favorite legal career experts for tips.
1. Tap into the hidden job market with informational interviews. If your job search only involves checking Internet job sites, you’re overlooking a huge slice of the job market. While “networking” is an overused word and can strike fear into the hearts of many, it’s an imperative part of a thorough job search. One of the easiest and most substantive ways to network is to conduct “informational interviews.” You can subtly obtain leads, inform prospective employers and contacts about your current skill set and career goals, and potentially secure a referral to hiring authorities — all while you’re encouraging people to talk about themselves (something most people love to do). For great step-by-step help, check the informational interview tutorial here.
Tim Henderson, Director of Professional Recruitment & Development, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
2. Use your network! Find someone who knows what a good lawyer you are, might have a job for you or knows someone who does, and will advocate for you to get the job. The more connected and influential the person is, the better your chances of landing a job.
Ida Abbott, Author, Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know
3. Write a search strategy statement. Describe the kind of position that you are looking for, your primary areas of work expertise and, if possible, specific firms or companies of interest. Reconnect with your friends, former classmates and colleagues and share your statement. Start setting up meetings with them to talk about your strategy and ways they could be of assistance.
Wendy L. Werner, Werner Associates, LLC
4. Start with where you want to work. Once you have targeted the organization you want to work for, find someone there you know. Ask if he or she would be willing to send your resume to the appropriate person with a recommendation. Often, if you are retooling your practice or changing types of organizations — government to law firm, for instance — the traditional channels are not always the best way to secure an interview. The same is true for women lawyers who have taken a break from practicing and want to return — the path back is typically filled with obstacles, unfortunately. Returning women lawyers should look for ways to demonstrate their value through opportunities such as the OnRamp Fellowship, which helps experienced women lawyers re-enter the profession through one-year, paid fellowships at top law firms. Check out www.OnRampFellowship.com.
Caren Ulrich Stacy, Principal, Lawyer Development Strategies LLC
5. Understand the firm’s business needs. Ultimately, law firms are businesses that must provide value to their clients. Post-recession, firms are being asked to do even more for less. If you can show that you understand this, you are all the more likely to get in the door.
Grover E. Cleveland, Author, Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer