How To Keep Your Career Afloat in this Market

Sheila Markin Nielsen, M.S.W., J.D.

The economic crisis we are facing is having a big impact on the legal workplace. A global frozen credit crisis has cascaded across the business world killing off deals and severely curtailing the up side of the market. Yet even though the business world is severely impacted, there are “hot pockets“ of activity where people are busy, and where there‘s work to be done there are jobs to be had.

How is this economic situation currently affecting the legal job market? Big firms, especially the aspiring global players, are doing some heavy pruning. These firms are cutting away lawyers in less productive practice groups. That means some attorneys who are outplaced are entering a market full of jobseekers often with excellent credentials who have often been shed from the same practice groups at different firms. Many of these lawyers are trying to land jobs at law firms with the same slow practice areas which means that the firms will not be hiring in those groups. If you have been outplaced, how do you find a job in this incredibly difficult legal market? And if you are a new graduate how in the world do you find your first job?

First, if you are trying to make a lateral move, realize that some of the usual methods for conducting a productive job search will not be as effective in this market. Recruiters and ads will not yield as many jobs even for stellar candidates. In this market ads are like meat for a shark attack. Here is the meat and here come all the sharks. Some workplaces will not use recruiters even if they might have done so in the past. One reason is that many workplaces will not want to pay a recruiter‘s fee when a website job posting will generate a wealth of responses from highly qualified attorneys. That means a job seeker needs to learn about the market and market trends for him or herself. It is crucial to read the papers like crazy and look for information that impacts your practice area. Read the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Crain‘s Chicago Business, Chicago Lawyer, CBA Record, and other news including sources on the internet. You want to understand the mega trends, the trends in your city, and any local gossip you can learn about the legal market. Based on what you learn you will do a better job of guiding your career in the right direction.

And that is your job - guiding yourself and your career in the right direction. Not only will no one do this for you, but your workplace may not be on your side. Recently I have counseled many attorneys who were ostensibly “on track“ for partnership at their firms but were shocked to receive reviews that smelled bad just as the firm needed to find people to ding in order to stay afloat itself. I have also counseled lawyers who were straddling more than one practice group, often on the advice of a partner-mentor, who consequently got let go because, the reasoning went, they were not up to the experience level of their counterparts.

As for recruiters, they also may not really be your best buddy. A recruiter‘s livelihood depends upon making placements. Their job is to introduce as many competitive and qualified candidates as they can find for the employer to vet. They are not necessarily promoting you. They are just as eager to present your rival to the potential employer.

So here are the first golden rules of search for today‘s difficult job market: YOU HAVE TO BE YOUR OWN RECRUITER. And to have a productive search THERE HAS TO BE WORK IN THE PRACTICE AREA IN WHICH YOU ARE CONDUCTING YOUR SEARCH. In other words, you need to know that there is market need in the area in which you are looking for work. You want to direct your search efforts to sectors of the market where there is either work to do right now, there will be work coming soon, or the countercyclical work that corresponds to your current practice area has heated up. Think of these as hot pockets you might be able to tap into.

Reading the news is vital to your search because it will teach you the practice areas that could be fertile ground for job search and how you need to portray and explain your skills. This is especially so if you should try to move into a different practice area, namely try to move to the countercyclical side of the market or even realign your skillset. For example, if your practice area was real estate deals, you might try to move into workouts. If you practiced in the corporate financial area, you might shoot for liquidations and bankruptcies. If your practice area is dead without evidence that it will revive, you may need to move into something very different. For example, if you were in a financial transactional area think outside the box about whether you might have transferable skills for white collar crime, the SEC, estate planning, matrimonial law or other areas that have activity and where your financial knowledge will be valuable.

In January, some of the hot pockets for lawyers were intellectual property, patent, benefits, bankruptcy, work outs, liquidations, advising banks about whether to accept TARP funds, and health care. In February there were more hot pockets opening up; litigation, class actions, white collar crime and others. There are still more areas predicted to heat up or already hot: compliance, estate planning- asset management. The federal government stands out as one of the very best potential employers for the near future. And certain regions of the country seem to be more stable and less affected by the economic tsunami.

As rapid market shifts occur, it is also possible to make educated predictions about certain trends as well. For example, some large cases are said to be brewing at the SEC and the US Attorney‘s Offices. That is likely to generate work for lawyers who do white collar crime but may also indicate the need for contract lawyers and temporary attorneys to do document review as well. As large firms shed lawyers they may well find that when the market heats up again they will need to restock the practice areas they reduced, but are likely to be uncertain about the future and therefore reluctant to hire laterals who would be on track for partnership. I think that many large firms may want to limit their obligations to their lawyers and stay agile in a quickly shifting market. Given the indicators, I would not be surprised to see a two tier system develop in the legal field especially in the case of the large firm: namely, those lawyers who are on track for equity partnership, characterized by hard charging, competitive, relatively overworked lawyers. And a group of second class lawyers who would have had far better careers before this economic meltdown occurred, engaged in document review or more menial work. There already seems to be a trend with some companies to bring on seasoned corporate counsel to do the work formerly tasked to outside counsel as a way to save money. There are lawyers who are happy with the status and relative freedom that comes from contract lawyering, but there are others who will be disappointed with a limited career trajectory and uncertain job security that results from temporary work.

Given our current economy and the possible need to reposition yourself in the field of law, one of the most important messages I can give you today is to GET YOUR CAREER RAFT INTO DEEPER WATER and keep steering it out of the shallows. What do I mean by that? Here‘s an analogy that works pretty well to explain this concept.

Two summers ago our family went on a cruise to Alaska. At every port there were activities you could opt to do. At one of the ports you could go on a raft trip for the day. Our family chose to do that. The rafts were rubber and could seat about eight people and a guide. There were about ten rafts and ten guides with the guides sitting in front. We got in our boat and started down the river. There had been a drought in Alaska and although the river was flowing, water was not as high as it had been in past years. In fact it was pretty shallow in places. Our guide did a great job of keeping us in deeper water and still telling us about the wildlife and history of the region. As we went down the river we saw that many of the rafts had gotten into shallow water and were stuck on the shoals. The people in the raft were bouncing up and down trying to nudge their boat back into the deeper water. We made it to the end point ahead of other rafts because our guide kept his eye on the subtle way the water flowed in the river and literally kept us in the main stream. In a severely contracted job market it is up to you to read the water flow = work flow and do your best to keep your career raft in the deepest water you can.

Here is how this concept translates into an action plan. Yesterday I met with a 5th year commercial litigation associate from a large firm who was trying to assess the best career direction for the near future. Her practice group seemed to be picking up after a slow period, but she had already gotten equivocal reviews that she knew meant that she was not going to be able to make partner at this firm. This was not something she felt particularly bad about. She wanted to have a work life that permitted her to enjoy her weekends and spend time with friends and family. She had been planning to leave this firm and large firm life generally. Should she try to make a career move now or act on another option that had just been offered by her firm; namely, help out the bankruptcy group. They needed assistance and she had been asked to help them by the partner running that group who was also a good friend of hers. As a general rule in a market with some uncertainty I would advise clients to stay in the same practice area even if that means humoring your boss from hell (that micromanaging freak) and actively build skills, build your value in your practice area, and build practice if at all possible. However, given this economy and this client‘s limited future prospects at this firm, it made more sense to build skills doing countercyclical work. That way when she leaves the firm within the next two years she will be better positioned to remain in the work flow whether the work is on the up or down side of the business cycle and she will have worked with a partner who likes her and will say good things about her work at the firm.

One way to conceptualize your value and your potential for jobs in the workplace is to think of the market like a beast that is either hungry or not. If the beast is very hungry, your chances for getting a job in a practice area where your skills are not perfect are still high. A hungry beast will not be as picky. But if the beast is not hungry, even if you have very good skills, you may have trouble finding work. It is a simple rule that can help you to guide yourself as you look ahead and chart your course.

The idea that you have to think about your career in a proactive way, actively managing your skillset and your career direction is a new idea for many lawyers. Gone are the days when you can go to law school and know that if you do well you will surely land a job at a prestigious firm and live there happily ever after. Gone are the days when being a service partner is secure. It is not radical advice to network a lot. But in this new world market you have to network as if your life depended on it. You have to create and build many more relationships because this is the net that will save you if and when your job or your firm vaporizes.

These relationships do not have to be deep, long standing, intimate relationships that take a very long time to develop and nurture. But they do need to be sincere. I call this “friendship lite“. It works as long as you really mean it. Friendship lite requires that you interact with many people and convey and actually act on an authentic interest and concern for others. It means that you become a center of initiative, actively engaged in helping others in many little ways. If you can help a new friend find a good nanny for her newborn, or refer a new contact to a wonderful therapist for his daughter with school phobia, or find the time to talk with your friend‘s son about his college aspirations, you are helping other people and you have created good will in the legal neighborhood in which you live or you wish to live. Good will is hard to quantify, but I can say for a fact after watching many careers over the span of more than 30 years: what goes around comes around. It may look as if greedy and domineering people are the winners, but what is fascinating to watch over the span of a career is how these people can be thwarted by others who have been stepped on and end up in positions of power and influence who eventually get them back.

With a world in flux and a shifting job market that is hard to anticipate, it becomes important to not only think outside the box, but sometimes, to move outside the box. By that I mean it may at some point become important to re-tool or re-tread your legal career by transitioning to a new practice area. Unfortunately, this can be hard to do especially if you have practiced at a large firm. Large firms need lawyers to be highly specialized and expert in niche areas of the law. Specialization can be useful or dangerous for your career. Specialization narrows your skillset and creates exclusivity and expertise which can boost your value in a large firm or in a consultant role. But if you try to leave that setting it can limit your options. For example, as your career progresses at a large firm the tendency is to become more and more narrow in focus. It would be as if you have become the expert in belly button lint, but only for outties. You become known as an expert in a narrow field. People who talk about what you do think of you in this narrow context. “John is the belly button lint specialist, but only for outties. It‘s doubtful that he could do “innies“ and he could never understand toe lint.“ Of course this is nuts. But it is often the way other partners think, and recruiters, and even my clients themselves.

Obviously lawyers are lawyers and the good ones can and will do well at all kinds of legal work. As a former Assistant United States Attorney, I have seen lawyers from that office successfully transition into many areas of law and law-related work: civil litigation, commercial transactional, intellectual property, judgeships, general practice, government and administrative work, recruiting, public service and teaching, to name a few. Not to mention the lawyers who have developed successful businesses such as a microbrewery, weight loss clinics, or a restaurant.

But where can a lawyer go to build the skills that would support a transition to a new practice area? Currently there are no schools or courses you can attend that will guarantee you will be able to change your practice area. To be marketable in the law the employer needs to know that you have had on- the-ground experience doing the work that needs to be done. Maybe the solution would be internships for lawyers needing to re-tread offered by firms that need to watch their bottom line. (There‘s a business out there someone could make money on!) That might be a win-win situation for everyone. But until then you have to cobble together a solution: workshops, CLE, courses that are part of an LLM program, or an LLM ( in the right circumstances), pro bono activities, and working with another practice group (with the blessing of your current practice group) can sometimes be helpful.

Absent the opportunity to have an internship, and if you are in a practice area that is saturated in a market where the beast is not hungry, what are you supposed to do to get a job?!!? How can you find the deeper water and learn how to get luckier? I teach people how to do this in an hour long session I call “Networking, the Quest“ which is chock full of concepts that I ask my clients to employ in creative and very active ways to explore the job market and mine it for job potential. I cannot cover all of these concepts here but I will try to hit the high points for you in the next few minutes.

Everyone says you should network. Recruiters, career services, vocational counselors and the career section of your newspaper all tell you to network. But they often do not tell you how to do it effectively or they give you advice that doesn‘t work well in this crazy market. The usual advice is to go talk with everyone you can and tell them you are looking for a job and ask them to let you know if they hear of anything. When you approach people in this way I believe it is counterproductive. I tell my clients DO NOT USE THE ‘J‘ WORD IN THE BEGINNING OF YOUR SEARCH. Job is the “J“ word. Why should you not use that word when you are beginning your search? You are, after all, looking for a job. That‘s true, but the problem is when you start with the “J“ word you immediately limit the extent of information you will get in that interaction.

As soon as you say you are looking for a job, everyone runs away from you like you‘re a leper. Just think about how you feel when someone calls you up and asks if you have heard of a job. You don‘t know of any jobs. You are not a recruiter. And you aren‘t going to do a search for your friend because if you do still have a job you are not going to spend your time seeking out job possibilities for someone else. You are going to be working as hard as you can to be indispensable to your current employer. You don‘t know how to help your friend. You really just want to get off the phone as soon as possible. What happens when you use the “J“ word? You are really asking the contact person to become your recruiter. You do not want to do that. YOU HAVE TO BE YOUR OWN RECRUITER. That‘s your job. And no one will do it as well as you will, once you know what to do. Because no one is as motivated as you are to get you a job.

What else happens when you use the “J“ word? You inadvertently cut the conversation short. Your contact person will generally say, “I don‘t know of anything but if I hear of something I will call you.“ And that‘s the end of the conversation. You didn‘t learn anything about the market ­what‘s hot and what‘s not. You didn‘t learn anything about law firm branches coming to Chicago from New York and capturing the bankruptcy group from Winston and Strawn that now needs to staff up. You didn‘t gossip and learn that one of the associates in that group was a friend of your contact, a really nice guy, who would probably be glad to meet with you and talk with you about what‘s going on over there. You didn‘t really get into the grapevine and throw your hat in the ring with that group over at Katten Muchin that is overwhelmed with work advising banks on TARP funds, or the law firm that is suddenly very busy advising wealthy clients about asset management and how to pass assets to the next generation. YOUR GOAL IS TO HAVE LONG GOSSIPY MARKET-KNOWLEDGE RICH CONVERSATIONS WITH A LOT OF PEOPLE.

One of my first rules for networking is this: “Do not call a friend and ask him or her to help you find a job.“ You have to give your friends a different role, one that allows you to learn more about the market and develop into an effective recruiter for yourself. GOOD NETWORKING IS ALL ABOUT FRIENDSHIP. Friendship lite, but true friendship. Done the right way, networking is also a heroic quest. I teach networking as a combination of medieval quest and Star Wars. You are a Jedi warrior like Luke Skywalker or Princess Lea, and I am Yoda. You are trying to get to the castle and meet with the keeper of the castle keys.

Imagine that the starting point is a cave. Your cave, to be specific, is your house. Your cave has your computer in it. Most people get stuck in the cave and don‘t get out enough to do the quest. People get stuck on the internet checking out job listings on websites and Monster or Vault or other lawyer sites. They work and rework their resumes and with a click of a button they send out hundreds of resumes further clogging up the cyberspace. In this kind of market I would not be surprised if every job posting attracted thousands of resumes from attorneys looking for work. Your resume is likely to get lost in the massive e-mailings that are going on now. Even those workplaces that use the internet to find lawyers run the risk of overlooking the best people for the job because the sheer volume of paper coming in without people attached to the paper can be overwhelming. As a job seeker, DON‘T GET STUCK IN THE CAVE. Get out of the cave and take your lap top with you as you go on your quest.

When job seekers are first trying to find opportunities, however, it is as if there are mountains in the way. Where are the jobs? Where is the work? You can‘t see what‘s going on. The mountains are in the way. It is very frustrating. Unlike most other informational needs you have in life, you cannot get the best job information by reading a book or going on the internet. To have a successful search YOU HAVE TO TALK WITH PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN WITH A VISTA. You need to commit to going on a trek. You have to go through the mountains and the woods and talk with people who know what is going on locally in their neighborhoods. However, before you even begin your quest you do want to have some good information and ideas about which castles would be a good fit for you where your skills would be valued and you could contribute to the village surrounding the castle and be welcomed by the villagers.

Villages or neighborhoods are general projected work settings that would be a good fit. For example, good neighborhoods for a commercial litigator might be: in-house (small or larger corporation), boutique litigation shops, or government (SEC, litigation, appellate). There usually are multiple neighborhoods and castles that might work for you, based on your skillset and the market need. What the internet is valuable for, even priceless, is to do research to learn about these villages and castles. Also, as your search proceeds, the castles become more refined. You begin to identify specific places that would be a good fit for you, and places that are busy, active and have work, but that usually takes a little while to learn. IT‘S YOUR JOB TO IDENTIFY THE MOST LIKELY CASTLES.

As I mentioned there is a forest to get through. The image of the woods is useful one, I believe. Many lawyers I have counseled over the years have been wandering through the woods and followed a career path just because they stumbled onto it, rather than identifying the best career direction and figuring out how to achieve that goal. DON‘T WANDER THROUGH THE WOODS AIMLESSLY. When your career happens to you, you can end up in a job that doesn‘t play to your strengths. All too often those are the people who get let go by the workplace that is engaged in heavy pruning,

As you make your way through the woods, you will encounter trolls and ogres coming along the paths. (Or call them Chubakkas and Darth Vaders, to keep the Star War imagery.) These creatures live in the woods and know their way around at least in the nearby forest, better than you do. You need to ask them for directions and advice. I call these folks trolls and ogres because they are scary to most networkers, who are nervous about talking to strangers and are fearful about what will happen when they try to engage a creature in the woods. Will they get embarrassed or humiliated by this encounter? Will these people think less of them because they were outplaced? Lawyers in general do not like to ask for help. They like to be the ones giving advice to others. So the fears that have to be overcome to engage in a successful networking search are represented by these concepts of trolls and ogres.

There is a difference between these two groups of contact people, however. The trolls are natural counselors/ helpers and the ogres are, like Darth Vader, not going to be helpful. You will meet ogres in your quest. DON‘T BE AFRAID OF THE DARTH VADERS out there, or you may avoid or curtail your networking search and end up back in the cave, which is no good. You have to be brave and face your fears and get back out there and encounter the creatures who can give you advice about how to get to the village and the castle you are seeking. About 2/3 of the world are trolls who, like a Shrek or Chubakka might be big and green or furry and terrifying looking, but are great helps. As for the ogres, they are having bad lives. Who knows why they are grumpy or unhelpful. Maybe they have just been told they have incurable cancer. Maybe their kid has just flunked out of college. You do not always know why contact people have gone over to the dark side. But you should try not to take it personally. Forgive them and ask them for the names and contact information for more trolls and move on. “Do you know anyone who is nice who is working at that firm who would spend some time talking with me?“ Your search progresses as you go troll to troll to troll.

What should you be talking about with the trolls since you are forbidden to use the “J“ word? Ask for advice, information, market knowledge, gossip, and oral history. The reason I use a medieval quest image for job search is because it is one of the few remaining areas of life where you have to rely on soft information: oral history and hearsay and gossip to get your knowledge. But the good news is that as you get this information by using the grapevine, you are being picked up by the grapevine and discussed among the villagers, which is part of the magic of how you get luckier in your job search. As you talk with the trolls of the forest, you should also be prepared to instruct them about how they can help you. You need to 1) have a list of people you really would like to meet who are connected to the village and the castle you are seeking, and 2) your should have a number of ads written out that describe the workplaces or castles where you know the fit would be good. “Looking for a position as an associate with a litigation boutique of under 50 lawyers in Chicago that is busy, active, growing, and people seem to enjoy working there. Can you think of any places that fit that description (castles)? And do you know of any nice people (trolls) who work there who might spend some time talking with me?“

For a troll to really be helpful, it is important to TELL THE TROLLS OF THE WORLD YOUR DREAM AND YOUR DILEMMA. It is very hard to know whether a contact person has the great information that you need, or really very little that will help your search. It‘s as if every person you encounter in the forest as you go on your quest is a black box of possibility that you need to get opened up. The way to open the box and see what is there is to say something like this: “I have a goal and a problem. And I am hoping you will give me some advice. My goal is_____________ and my problem is____________.“ You have to instruct and teach the trolls of the world about what your needs are, your goals, and wishes, and what your obstacles are, with real clarity and specificity. You want to think through and carefully craft your descriptions of what you seek.

MEET IN PERSON WHENEVER POSSIBLE. On a scale of one to ten it‘s a 10 to talk with the trolls of the world in person outside the office. You want to have breakfast, lunch, dinner, or coffee with them. It‘s a 9 to talk with them in their office. It‘s a 5 to talk with them over the phone without any further in person contact. It‘s a 3 to 5 to e-mail something and a 1 to send something by snail mail unless you can convert that into an in-person meeting. Why does everything have to be in person? Now you get the story of my friend, Ralph, who works for IBM in sales. Ralph is always traveling to Japan where he meets with his customers. Whenever I call his cell phone he is almost always out of town. I asked him why he has to travel to Japan all the time, and here is what he said, “There is no way to create real trust without looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand.“ Ralph is very good at sales. When it comes to a good networking search the same is true. You are the commodity. You need to look your contacts in the eye and shake their hands to create the good will and trust that can help you to get hired. EVERY MEETING WITH A TROLL IS AN INTERVIEW.

Who actually gets jobs? FOLLOW THESE RULES. Jobs go to people where the following is true:

  1. The skillset matches the need of the workplace, or if it doesn‘t you are face-to-face with a person and can help him or her understand how your skillset translates.
  2. The work is there. The place is busy.
  3. You come through a trusted contact, (but it only needs to be friendship lite).
  4. The music is good between you and the interviewer(s)

You do not always need the trusted contact if you have the first two items on the list, but it never hurts to have that trusted contact, and, if you can get it, an endorsement as well.
KNOW WHAT AN ENDOSEMENT IS AND ASK FOR THAT WHEN APPROPRIATE
  1. Your contact knows your work, likes, and trusts you.
  2. Your contact knows someone well positioned in the castle you are seeking.
  3. The information you have gotten from your quest tells you there is work at the castle or they may need help over there.

If your contact is willing to do it, it would be wonderful if he or she would send an e-mail or make a phone call saying what a great person you are. This is not just networking. This is an endorsement. This is how people get jobs. If you feel comfortable doing it, ask for the endorsement, but only if the person will say “You have to meet John/Jane, he/she is a terrific person and an outstanding lawyer (outstanding law student) and would be great at your workplace.“

Eventually as you trek through the forest and learn about the villages and castles that fit your background, you will start to learn about the keeper of the castle keys, the person who is charge of hiring. ON YOUR QUEST KEEP TRYING TO FIND OUT WHO IS THE KEEPER OF THE CASTLE KEYS AND TRY TO MEET WITH HIM OR HER Very often, that person is not the person you are told to contact if you send your resume to the castle or e-mail it there. Often the keeper of the keys is a powerful partner who has the actual and ultimate authority to hire but is not involved in the human resource function of culling through hundreds of resumes with an eye to getting rid of them. That‘s the HR function.

Most castles are highly defended. There is a moat full of water and monsters, a heavy gate, a big, nasty dragon at the gate (that‘s the HR person) whose job is to keep you out of the castle and who wants to find fault with your credentials. Most job seekers send their resume and cover letter to the castle which is like giving to the dragon and asking the dragon to deliver it to the keeper of the keys. Maybe it will get to the keeper, then again, maybe the dragon will eat it. However, behind the castle is a vibrant neighborhood full of villagers coming to market with their wares, and interacting with each other including many of the folks who live in the castle you are trying to get into. Your job is to go around to the back of the castle, mingle with villagers, learn about the neighbors and meet with them. Sometimes you have to get creative to get into the village. Often, it is not very hard to get into the village because the concept of “Six Degrees of Separation“ works very well.

Once you figure out who you want to meet and the castles you know would be a good fit, you can create a master list, show it to trolls and ask for introductions. OKAY, SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO BECOME A BIT OF A STALKER, BUT IN A GOOD WAY. If you know there is someone you really need to meet to set up an audience with the keeper of the keys, you might have to get inventive sometimes. When I was trying to get an interview at the US Attorney‘s Office, I found out that Senator Chuck Percy was one of the gatekeepers for that office. I learned that he was a good friend of the father of a friend of mine. I met with the father of my friend and explained why I would really like the chance to meet with Senator Percy and why I was highly qualified for the position of AUSA. My friend‘s dad promised that he would pass my resume along to Percy, but he never did. Four months went by. Instead of getting angry and frustrated and giving up, I kept trying to get more information that could be useful. I learned that Percy played tennis at a certain tennis court, and since I played tennis too, I made it my business to set up a lesson on the same court after he was done playing there, and when he finished playing I went over and introduced myself saying, “Senator Percy I‘ve almost met you for the last 4 months.“ I explained what I meant by that and also why I would make a terrific Assistant US Attorney. That didn‘t get me the job, but it did get me the opportunity to interview for the job and the interview went well enough for me to land the job of AUSA.

How does Six Degrees of Separation help you? Every lawyer you know knows at least 100 other lawyers. If you have gotten to the point where you know the places where the fit would be good and the work is there, you may now use the “J“ word. You are at the “tipping point“ Once you are in the village or inside the castle and meeting people who know the keeper of the castle keys, you try to have a face-to-face meeting with that person. It is true that as you network, every meeting with a troll is an interview but the meeting with the keeper of the castle keys is the crucial interview and YOU SHOULD BE FULLY READY TO ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER THE KEEPER OF THE KEYS. Also important is that you have done a good job of recruiting yourself to a place that should welcome you because your background and skills are a good fit. As you network for information, as soon as you identify a castle that seems to be a good fit you should be checking on your lap top for the backgrounds of the people who work there to be sure your schools, and your skills match up well with that group of people.

These and other concepts that I teach my clients as part of a job search strategy session are really the result of watching my clients over the years and learning from their efforts and experiences as well as my own, what works and doesn‘t work when it comes to finding a new job.

I hope these ideas have been helpful to you. There is a lot more that I wish I had time to cover, but this is certainly a start. May the Force be with you.

Nielsen Career Consulting
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sheila@nielsencareerconsulting.com

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