Job Searching in a Challenging Market

by Meredith Miller on April 9, 2012

A few years ago I found myself deep in a job search. The law firm for which I was working was abruptly shut down and I had to start looking for a job at a time that Bloomberg News called “the worst slump since the Great Depression.”  Whether you are forced into a job search or have made the decision to start looking, the key to a successful job search is having a positive outlook and the right tools to support your search. What follows are a list of guidelines that may help with your job search.

Resume – Update your resume to include your most recent position.  Request a mentor or colleague to proof your resume with suggestions based on format or content.  Then, update your resume so it’s available to send to a job posting. Keep it current as your situation progresses.

Online Resources – The first place I looked when searching for a job was the Legal Marketing Association’s Job Bank.  This job bank has the most up-to-date legal marketing opportunities with the largest variety of openings.  Also, this is a great resource if you want to see available opportunities that might spur your next move within your firm or elsewhere.  LinkedIn and college alumni websites can provide additional job opportunities.

Network and get involved with your local LMA chapter – Keep abreast of local networking opportunities, including relevant seminars, receptions and classes.  The NYLMA offers a variety of meetings each month that are geared toward career development.  Prior to an event, contact the organizer to see if there are any volunteer opportunities.  If there is a specific meeting that sparks your interest, reach out and see if there is any way to get involved with the program.  Once at an event, be outgoing and introduce yourself to as many people as possible.  Meeting new people in the legal marketing community can open doors to new opportunities.  You may meet a person associated with a firm with which you have interviewed or are trying to land an interview.

Learn from the interview process – Use the first interview as an opportunity to present your best assets and also to observe the dynamics of each firm’s marketing department.  Every marketing department has its own culture and business environment. The interview process can help you determine if you could potentially fit into that group. After interviewing at a firm, you should take a few minutes to evaluate your experience and always make sure to send a follow-up thank you note.

Reach out to a mentor and align with the right people – At any point throughout a job search, it is helpful to have someone who can be your mentor, a sounding board.  Whether it is a past boss, coworker or someone you connect with outside of the office, the person should understand what is best for you and advancing your career.  It is important that you align yourself with people who are looking out for your best interests.  This can include colleagues, recruiters or even friends.  It is best to discuss job opportunities with people who understand your specific situation and will help sharpen your search.

Leave on good terms – Never burn bridges with past employers. If you accept a job at a competitor, this may be more difficult than you might expect.  Once you accept a new position, you should meet with your present boss to discuss your decision as soon as possible.  This will help you, in the future, continue positive relationships with previous coworkers.  You never know when a past boss or coworker can help you get the interview or introduction for which you have been waiting. The legal marketing community is small and you want to preserve past relationships even as you move forward.

Meredith Miller is an Assistant Manager for Business Development at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. You can reach Meredith at mmiller@stblaw.com.

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