Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reflections on my Job Search

Since I just received my job offer early this Monday and will not be starting my new position until Wednesday, it may seem a bit soon to reach any grand, sweeping conclusions about my job search.  That said, I think that my search taught me some things that could be of use to those of you who are looking for jobs, specifically people with law degrees.

1) Networking: I can only speak for myself when I say that networking is beyond crap.  The conventional wisdom says that networking is the golden rule of job-hunting.  Making connections, meeting their connections, getting your business card/resume out there, etc. For me, connections did absolutely nothing.  The only connection that produced any result was my husband's former coworker.  And all that ended up getting me was an offer for an unpaid internship.  Think of it this way:  in a difficult job market like this one, basically no one has any job security.  Why are they going to stick their neck out for a friend of a friend, someone they might not know very well personally and whose work product they probably don't know at all?  I can't even blame them for it.  Maybe networking was more valuable when the economy was better.  Or maybe if you are looking for an unpaid internship someone will go out on a limb for you.  But that's not the climate right now, and I can't say that shocks me.

2) Law degrees for non-legal jobs:  I was able to get this job, a non-legal job doing research, writing and social media for an organization, despite the fact that I have a law degree.  I don't know exactly what the interviewers thought about the law degree, but they did ask about it.  Every single person who interviewed me asked me about the law degree, why I have it, why I am not seeking an attorney position, and how the skills might translate.  My point is that even if some of the stigma of the J.D. is starting to dissipate (and I don't necessarily think that it is), it is still a liability you will have to address.  So come up with a good explanation for why you went, what made you change your mind about the legal field, and how you plan on using the skill set.  Keep the tone as positive as you can.  For me, it is difficult to sound positive when discussing the law and the legal profession.  But I did the best I could and I think it helped.

3) Interviews:  I can honestly say that the best thing that happened for me in terms of getting this job was the fact that I interviewed for a virtually identical job earlier this summer.  Some of you might recall that I went all the way through the interview process at another organization this summer.  I did multiple rounds and submitted a writing exercise.  While I did not get the position, I learned from the questions exactly what employers in this field look for in a candidate.  I even learned something from the tone of their questions about the law degree.  Interviewing makes you a better interviewer, so if you get an offer for an interview you should take it, even if it is not a position you think you would want to accept.

But the most important thing...

4) Don't Give Up:  We all went to college and law school or graduate school because we ARE intelligent, hard-working people with something to offer an employer and society in general.  Trolls, shills and apologists come on these blogs and try to make us feel bad about ourselves.  As if it is our fault that we were taken in at a young age by a huge scam.  As if we caused the economic collapse that left us with few job prospects and crippling debt.  I'm all for personal accountability.  But the people who come here and scream about personal accountability in the comments section are here because they thrive on making other people feel insecure and bad about themselves.  I'm no psychologist, but I can tell you this:  DON'T internalize this portrayal of the young, indebted and unemployed.  Our only crimes were not being born with independent wealth and believing that education was the key to success. Keep applying for jobs, keep going on interviews, keep looking for openings.  You will find something eventually.  You will, of course, have good days and bad days during the process.  I certainly did.  Have someone to vent to: a friend, a significant other, a family member.  And, if you are sick of venting to those people, send me an email.  I'm always like to commiserate.

Best of luck everyone!  And as I said in my prior post, I will still be blogging.  Exposing the higher education scam is just as important as ever, and I will be here doing my part as long as I can.

17 comments:

  1. I've been spamming this all over other blogs, but the petition brought up by Prof. Campos calling for greater transparency in employment figures given out by law schools is definitely worth a look:

    http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2011/09/law-school-petition.html

    Congratulations on your new job. As you say, there is simply no point being rough on yourself. There have been times during the last few years, particularly towards the end of my legal studies, when I have been very down on myself because nothing seemed to be showing up. In the end I went back to patenting, to a role which does not require a law degree, even though it is useful. That said, most of it came down to the luck of the draw - I just wish that had been more clear at the start.

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  2. I agree that one should never turn down an opportunity for an interview since, if anything, it's good practice. I do think, however, that if someone puts on a suit-and-tie, and attends an interview that the interviewer should, at least, give a response to the candidate, not just fart him/her off.

    I know from experience that some law firms interview candidates on an on-going basis just to appear that they're busy when in fact there are no positions available in the law firm. Some partners also use bogus interviewing to fill their timesheets. Wankers....

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  3. In Marx's "Capital", Marx said that the capitalist system creates an "Army of Unemployed."

    In other words, you J.D. "Young'ns" weren't screwed by law schools and the system. The system is just doing what it's supposed to do. You're SUPPOSED to get fucked up the bumhole!

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  4. Gosh you are such a whiner! Do you want some cheese with that, Rose? Even now that you've landed your non-legal job, you're still whining. For the record, you would have made a terrible lawyer! Lawyers are fighters, tough and aggressive. They don't take no for an answer. When things don't go their way, they find an alternate route. They don't cry over spilled milk and they learn how to make lemonade out of lemons. The LSAT used to weed out the weaklings like yourself, but I guess they've lowered the bar on that because you made it in. Trust me when I say this, we are all glad you found something else to do with your time besides whine!

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  5. Actually, 6:19, I think that my post was overwhelmingly positive! But I have to laugh at your description of lawyers. I have had the (dis)pleasure of two courtroom internships, and some of the most incompetent bozos you have ever seen managed to pass the bar. (I'm going to guess that's how you got in, right sweetie?)

    But, thanks for the support! I'm really excited for my first day tomorrow!

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  6. Your first day tomorow will be just fine!

    And I am so glad for you!

    Stay cool, and take it slow and easy, and get a feel for the new place and people.

    And any company or corporation, or whatever, is damn lucky to have you!

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  7. Rose, at the non-legal job interviews, did the interviewer(s) want to see or asked for a copy of a law transcript? Thank you and good job.

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  8. @2:25 - No, they did not ask for my law transcript, but they did not ask for my undergraduate transcript either. I have found that most non-profits did not ask for transcripts, but they did call references and ask for several writing samples. That said, I spoke to a temp agency that placed people with large companies this summer, and despite the fact that I specified that I specified that I was NOT looking for a legal position, they wanted transcripts from all institutions. But it never came to that because they never called me for anything!

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  9. You're still a whiner! And I suspect you'll be whining about what's wrong with your new job sooner or later. Just as soon as they don't give you the raise you wanted or you are rejected for that promotion that you so richly deserved, then they too will be the subject of your petty verbal insults.

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  10. Hey Rose!

    Congratulations! Finding employment is a long, hard journey. It took me over a year to find another position after being downsized in December, 2009.

    I've lurked on these boards for the past year while I was downsized while I was seeking a position as a paralegal (I've been working in the legal field now for well over 10 years). I too had to deal with the stigma in responding to questions why I am not seeking another paralegal position and why I was not applying to legal positions (my prior experience includes being a Paralegal Manager and I was a Contract Administrator before being downsized).

    Ignore people like 3:15. My bet, this guy probably never even went to law school. If he did, then this guy lives under a rock. The legal field is over saturated for everyone: attorneys, experienced paralegals, and administrative support. The firms are not hiring in the numbers needed to meet the number of people who were downsized *and* the number of recent graduates (this includes new JD’s and newly certified, paralegal graduates). In my experience, in order to remain working in this field, I had to take a significant pay cut. I have recently decided to re-start my search and start thinking out of the box this time around. I'm not greedy, but I have a little boy and two dogs to support and my current salary does not enable me to save any money. I'm also not in the position to take on a second job to make ends meet. I have found that maintaining my title and continuing to work in a field in which the ABA couldn't give a toss about maintaining integrity is no longer worth it.

    All the best to you; I am looking very forward in reading about your job and new experiences.

    TMF1977

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  11. TMF1977 -- My sister has worked as a paralegal without the degree (her degree was in English and she's an excellent writer) for over 20 years. She says there are not enough paralegals and that when they tried to recruit someone at the law firm she works for, they had to take a smart recent grad who wrote well and could be trained into the job. Is this unusual? Is the paralegal field over saturated in most places in the country?

    I'm sure taht Rose is not worried about the idiot @ 6:19 and 3:15, most likely the same troll. She has class.

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  12. To the idiot at 10:10pm: The idiot @ 6:19 and 3:15 is employed, making six figures and happy with life! What about you???

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  13. Hey, Rose,
    Congrats on the job. Hope things are going well now that it's three months later.

    Ignore 6:19, 3:15, and 10:09 (all the same guy?). I don't know anybody who makes six figures with the free time to maintain such a childish blog comment war. He/she/it probably watched too much Perry Mason as a kid, because their description of what lawyers do is laughably narrow and overly "Hollywood."

    As for the "stigma of the JD" you mentioned... eh... there is no stigma to having a law degree -- ok, maybe from those who've had a bad experience with lawyers -- divorcees, lawsuit defendents, etc. Here's what those interviewers really mean when they ask about law school -- are you really interested in this position as a long-term gig, or are you going to keep looking for an attorney position, and then bail on us 3-12 months down the road?

    It is a considerable cost to find, hire, and train a new employee, if nothing else, by taking the manager and other employees away from their tasks while they have to explain things to the "new guy." So there's a big incentive to make sure that "new guy" sticks around for few years. Add to this the all too common perception (misguided, though it may be) that the only reason to go to law school is to become a lawyer, as well as the current high unemployment rate, and your application for a non-legal position looks a lot like desperation. They don't want to have to replace you in six months because that juicy law firm job you were secretly still searching for finally came along.

    Anyway, good luck,
    Mike

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  14. Excellent post, I wish I’d have found your blog earlier!

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  15. Great post!I have been wonder’n bout this issue,so thanks for posting

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