Job Search Strategies in Tough Times

Job Search Strategies in
Tough Times
Facilitated by Robert
Lawyers Assistance
What Strategies to use in
Tough Times?
• The strategies are very similar to normal
times with some exceptions-I am defining
“tough times” as those; where due to
economic contraction there are fewer legal
jobs easily available
• Lawyer demand occurs in cycles,
depending on business prospects-we have
had good times here for about 10 years-in
some places in the USA things are very
tough for lawyers now
• In tough times articling students may not
be hired no matter how good they are or
no matter how hard they worked
Tough Times
• The “hit ratio” goes up-that is the ratio of
contacts to short lists to offers in good
times it might be 15/3/1-it takes 15
contacts or applications for 3 shortlists to
get 1 offer
• In hard times it might go to 30/2/1 or
• The bottom line is that it takes more effort
and the “easy pickings” won’t be there
• In some areas there may be “full
saturation” of lawyers meaning moving to
a place with more demand is a good idea
Tough Times
• “Salaried” jobs will be scarce or non
existent in small firms or small markets
• For those wanting private practice this
means going job hunting with a
“proposal” for a straight percentage or
base salary plus a percentage or “eat what
you kill” arrangements
• For those lawyers with a few years
experience this may mean going out on
your own earlier than you wanted or may
feel ready for (in perfect circumstances)
Tough Times
• For some lawyers it may mean jumping
over to “Quasi- Legal” jobs or even non
legal jobs
• The main point is that you must broaden
your horizons and drop preconceived
notions of the way you envisioned things
going with your career
• The people who suffer in hard times are
those who are rigid or myopic “I want a
tier one law firm in downtown Vancouver
with a top notch salary-nothing else will
do” or “there is no way I am going to live
in a small town”
Tough Times
• Some area of law are very susceptible to tough
times-real estate goes up and down in terms of
volume, merger and acquisitions slow down a lot in
tough times when money is tight
• Some areas of Law increase in tough times i.e.foreclosures, collections, divorces
• If you are flexible you can ride one boom up then
change areas and ride another down (real estate
followed by foreclosures)
• You must be flexible in tough times-sometimes
quickly changing areas of practice-easier in some
firms than others-being a one trick pony (being over
specialized) is particularly dangerous in hard times
• In really hard times being a partner easily shifts
from being an asset to a liability-you get cash calls not draws in hard times
Tough Times
• Job hunting can be more difficult,
especially if you are fairly
inflexible-remember there is
always demand for some area of
law somewhere
• You must do your search very
effectively and do what works
• You won’t be able to rely on
many job ads being published or
headhunters finding a job for you
• Networking becomes
indispensable rather than just very
What Works in Job
• Depends on who you want to
work for-in private practice about
80% of successful lawyers use
networking and informational
interviews,15% published ads and
5% headhunters
• With some employers like
government and academia all jobs
are advertised but often the job
goes to an incumbent or someone
who has networked effectively
Being Proactive Works
• Waiting for an ad that describes you
perfectly is a fantasy-you will wait forever
• Employers assume the way you look for a
job is the way you will work-thus you
want to demonstrate being proactive and
showing hustle
• In small or medium firms ads (especially
for articling students) are rare or non
• Drag and Drop works-in fact it is the only
way to get most jobs in small to midsize
How to get a Job Fast
• 2 things determine how long it takes-how
you search and how much time you put
into it
• How you search means putting your time
into productive pursuits: networking,
informational interviews, career
assessments, drag and drops etc.
• How much time-if you are unemployed 40
hours a week is good-if employed if you
can do 5- 10 hours that is good (note this
means productive time-not obsessing,
worrying, fretting, tossing and turning at
night etc.)
Be Warm, Active &
Interactive-Warm contact
• Warm contact means some
connection to another human-the
opposite is cold contact i.e.
sending an email
• Active not passive-waiting for ads
or an invitation is passive
• Interactive-knowing someone in
the organization (even briefly) is
very helpful
• Most jobs are secured by warm
• Don’t rely solely on published ads
Lawyer Specific issues
• Resistance to “warm” techniques
• Feeling of being “special or
different” “I have all these
degrees I shouldn’t have to
hustle” is counterproductive
• Marketing yourself can be solo, in
a group or by leadership
• Usually one on one is the most
productive- i.e. coffee on a drag
and drop
Published ads
• Not always about a job opening
• Could be about a union
requirement to advertise
• Often job is already filled by
interim candidate
• Headhunters (ZSA or Counsel)
are useful in special cases
• Career counselors or job clubs are
very useful
Group Techniques
• Job fairs
• Volunteering-Increases your
connection with the organization –
Creates networking possibilities
• LAP events
• Attend seminars or lectures
One on One
• AKA-Networking
• 75% of all jobs found this way-for some
jobs in private practice this the only way
• This is the hidden job market
• People will hire someone they know over
someone who is better qualified
• No connection is too remote
• In many small firms the idea to hire
someone is stimulated by the presence of
the person who is applying (for a job that
doesn’t exist!)
Networking and
Informational Interviews
• A process of community building
• Don’t ask people “if they know of
a job for you” it puts both of you
on the spot use the informational
interview technique instead
• Ask for something that they can
do-talk about themselves (they
will listen for hours!)
• Informational interview practice
Resistance to Networking
• What gets in the way of your
networking? Most people don’t
like doing it
• It is usually some form of fear
• i.e. “I am embarrassed”
• The reason I’m not making the
call is…..
• Complete the sentence with 5 or 6
endings-the answers are the
resistance you need to overcome
• How can you reframe this?
Resumes and Cover
• Should answer the questionsWhat can you do for my business?
and Why should I interview you?
• Focus on employers needs more
than your credentials or goals
• What skills are needed-Do my
skills match?
• You should also have a business
Do your own
Rewrite as required
Emphasize your strongest points
Show results-not just titles
Be accessible and very easy to
• Be the person with the right skills,
the right knowledge base,
motivation and results
• Be descriptive of your skills,
experience and credentials
• Content has only one purpose-to
prove you are well qualified to do
the job
• Chronological resume-used for
similar jobs up the ladder
• Most common form of Resume in
• Functional resume-used if your
background is varied-ie. law and
• Organizes by category
• Targeted resume-used for a
specific job-or when you are off in
a new direction
• Show your qualifications-describe
actual achievements rather than
listing job titles and dates
• Be descriptive-not flowery
• Describe tangible, measurable,
results 500k award for
• Always mention law degree,even
for non law jobs-it is an
impressive credential
• If more than 5 years-lead with
accomplishments not degrees
Special Situations
• Gov’t jobs-describe education and
training using exact words in job
• “disconnect your natural
intelligence and creativity and
break up your education and
employment history into a large
number of tedious redundant
Special Situations
• Scannable resumes-focus on key
words, use industry jargon and
• Use key action wordsdeveloped,delivered,negotiated,m
anaged etc.
• Use basic fonts, avoid
• Use one side only
Professional Profile
• Can be used instead of a cover
• Story style format-who are you
and what do you want-in 3-5
sentences-lets do one now!
• Some consultants say this is more
effective than traditional resumes