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Conducting a Job Search in a Difficult Market

Job searching in a challenging job market takes perseverance, resilience, and creativity. Cuts to recruiting budgets are a primary way employers cut costs, which creates challenging hiring prospects for recent graduates. In addition, natural attrition may not be back-filled to the extent it once was, and layoffs of seasoned attorneys may occur, creating an increasingly competitive lateral market for experienced attorneys.

It is important to keep in mind that difficult periods in the hiring market do end. Many alumni will recall the difficult legal market of the early 1990s, which rebounded with strong growth in the mid to late 90s. If you find you are job searching in a challenging market, the following tips will help create the most effective search possible.

Contact CDO
YLS alumni have access to CDO throughout their careers. Whether you are a recent graduate, an experienced hire making a lateral move, or an attorney seeking an alternative legal career, CDO is available to assist you. Alumni are encouraged to make an appointment with a CDO counselor to discuss their job searches and strategies.

Stay Involved
Keep up with your memberships and activities in bar associations. Many bar associations have programs for lawyers in transition, which may be available at a reduced cost. Consider joining a committee and volunteer to work on their events and projects. Committee membership is mostly seasoned attorneys, and the Committee will present their findings to an even larger group, so this is an ideal opportunity for you to show them your work.

Be Flexible
In a challenging market those who are flexible with regard to geographic area, practice area, and type of employer will have a significant benefit. Take time to evaluate what areas of the market are currently doing well and growing. Think about the skill set you currently have and how that may transfer to one of these other areas. Consider CLE courses and bar association activities to help you gain further knowledge of these fields, and be ready to include that additional education in your cover letter and/or resume.

Network, Network, Network
The importance of networking cannot be overstated, particularly in a challenging market. Networking isn’t just about attending cocktail events, but includes informational interviewing, being active in professional associations, and attending CLE and other educational programs.

Take time to write down your personal network of friends, family, former colleagues, former clients, and other relevant professional connections, then add to that list by researching YLS alumni through Career Connections and other networks, as well as the alumni of your undergraduate school. Keep current with the activities of these alumni groups in your area.

Be Very Prepared
During a challenging job market, a job search may well take longer than during more prosperous times, so it is vital to be well prepared for every interview and networking opportunity you schedule. Perform detailed research on the employers and individuals with whom you are speaking, including their focal practice areas and current trends in those areas.

Before you go on an interview you should also reach out to YLS alumni or alumni of your undergraduate school for informational interviews to learn even more about the company and current trends. You can also schedule a mock interview with a CDO counselor in order to brush-up on your interviewing skills, and in order to strategize your interview approach for particular employers.

Recommended Resources
Video: NALP and ALI-ABA offered Managing a Legal Career Transition in Tough Times — a 75-minute presentation by Marcia Pennington Shannon and Susan G. Manch of Shannon & Manch LLP
Career Management System for Alumni