Job hunting during a pandemic: Tips for a successful search
February 25, 2021
The pandemic has certainly forced change throughout businesses in the US. For law firms, in particular, by April 2020 more than 50 large firms had conducted pay cuts, layoffs, furloughs, or adjusted their summer programs. Firms and businesses had to modernize their technology and prepare for working from home on a massive scale. Travel lessened, as did an emphasis on brick-and-mortar offices. Law firm revenue wasn’t as negatively impacted as expected, at least early on in the pandemic.
Despite these changes, offer and acceptance rates have been near or at historical highs for law firms. And, as expected, the economic downturn practice areas have been busy: Labor & Employment, Family Law, Restructuring / Bankruptcy, Insurance, Healthcare, Trusts & Estates, and Tax. On the corporate side, businesses in the Shipping and Logistics, Online Education, and Technology sectors have continued to grow.
With hiring continuing, job hunting during a pandemic doesn’t have to be so daunting. If you enjoy your job but want to change companies, you can seek out networking opportunities to meet people from other organizations. However, if you are considering a bigger change, going through a three-part process of “ask, access, and act” can be helpful to ensure you land a job you love.
Ask – The first step is to ask. This is all about looking inward to identify what you enjoy doing. Think about what gives you energy and what you are good at. Many people focus too quickly on a new subject-matter area, e.g. switching from a litigator to an environmental lawyer, but fail to realize that the details of the day-to-day work have a much bigger impact on happiness. If you can identify what types of things you really enjoy doing, you can find a very fulfilling career. In order to identify these areas of strength and passion, you can rely on a number of different sources. You can look to any external assessments you have taken in the past, e.g., Myers Briggs. You can also find similar assessments online. You can also be far less scientific by carrying a notebook around with you for a week and jotting down the types of tasks that you enjoyed doing that week. You should feel comfortable asking others about what they view as your strengths. After taking notes and giving it some thought, you can review your notes and create a list of the types of things that you really enjoy doing.
Assess – Next, assess the types of opportunities that exist out there. Since you are looking for a career change, it is always helpful to cast a wide net and capture any and all ideas which you can narrow down once you have a good sense of what is out there. You can start by doing some searches on LinkedIn to find jobs requiring the skills that you have identified in step 1 or jobs that just sound interesting. Once you have a general idea of areas you are interested in, reach out to your network (including any mentors you have, recruiters, alumni from your law school, etc.) and ask them what types of similar roles exist in their organizations. Be really curious during this phase so that you can uncover all kinds of potential opportunities.
Act – Finally, act! If you aren’t yet sure you want to make a change, you can volunteer for some projects at your current organization that further develop the skills needed for the role(s) you identified as your next career step. If you are ready to make a move, get active in networking as well as applying for jobs that you find via your network (or through a recruiter and/or job bank).
Regardless of whether you are looking for a career change or simply to change organizations, networking is critical to success. Networking during a pandemic can be a bit different so here are some tips to do so effectively:
Leverage technology! LinkedIn can be really helpful during these times. Research people who are doing work you are interested in and reach out to request a coffee chat/informational interview over Zoom. You can get a free Zoom account so that you can meet new people via video.
Attend larger virtual networking events via bar associations, professional organizations, and events put on by your alma mater.
Find online volunteering opportunities.
Whether meeting people one on one or in a larger group, getting prepared before the interaction is important.
Know your audience before your meeting. Do your research and come prepared with questions.
Be prepared with a BEEP speech (Brief, Enthusiastic, Elastic, and Purposeful) about yourself.
Have an ask for each meeting. Whether you are asking for an introduction to someone or a recommendation for a role within the company, make sure you make that ask by the end of your discussion.
After any meeting, make sure to send a follow-up note to thank the person. Also, stay organized. Develop a networking spreadsheet of who you’ve met, where they work, and what you discussed. Set up a follow-up schedule, e.g., quarterly, and identify reasons to routinely follow up with contacts and briefly check in.
Job hunting anytime can be very difficult, but in this time of uncertainty and limited movement, it can be even more intimidating. Don’t be discouraged. Law firms and corporations are still hiring, and it is just as risky to do nothing as it is to do something. I hope that this article has provided you the tips and confidence to jump start your networking or make your next career move. If you want more details and/or to discuss this topic further, feel free to reach out to me at DJones@lighthouseglobal.com.
For 25 years, Lighthouse has provided software and services to manage the increasingly complex landscape of enterprise data for compliance and legal teams. Lighthouse leads by developing proprietary technology that integrates with industry-leading third-party software, automating workflows, and creating an easy-to-use, end-to-end platform. Lighthouse also delivers unique proprietary applications and advisory services that are highly valuable for large, complex matters, and a new SaaS platform designed for in-house teams. Whether reacting to incidents like litigation or governmental investigations, or designing programs to proactively minimize the potential for future incidents, Lighthouse partners with multinational industry leaders, top global law firms, and the world’s leading software provider as a channel partner. For more information, visit lighthouseglobal.com.
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