Craigslist as Offeree September 23, 2009Posted by admin in : Tales , trackback
There comes a time in every jobless lawyer’s life when they have to look at themselves in the mirror and say, “it’s time to beg for a job on craigslist.” It’s not a proud moment, but just when there seems like no other option exists, crafting a post as offeree can be a bit empowering. My job search approach is a 5 pronged strategy. First, an active search on the jobboards, currently I am using usajobs.com, hound.com and lawcrossings.com, and of course craigslist.com. I’ve used many others but have since phased them out for a variety of reasons mostly either they were too expensive or they were too heavily inundated with recruiter posts (e.g. attorneyjobs.com, theladders.com, laterallink.com, monster.com, careerbuilder.com, lawjobs.com). Each night like clockwork I search the active services I am using at the time. Any post that I seem remotely qualified for (and even some that I don’t) I apply to. I use a bank of about four cover letter templates that I previously crafted one highlighting my experience in antitrust, one for trademarks and soft IP, one for employment law and one for general litigation when applying. I tailor each letter for the specific position I am applying for. I then bundle along a references sheet, a writing sample, and transcripts and send it off.
This is when my resume takes its journey to “Nowhereville.” The resume starts strong and proud traveling straight through Middle Earth towards Walden Pond, it then treks over Atlantis (of course remembering to steer clear of Utopia, wouldn’t want it to end up in a happy place) and winds up anemic and emasculated in a little place towards the back of “The Waste Land” known as Nowhereville. Nowhereville is where 95% percent of my resumes wind up. 4.99% wind up in some combination of the Bermuda Triangle, a random Black Hole, and Never-Never Land (where I am told Captain Hook has initiated a hiring freeze). Finally, .01% actually reaches someone with the capacity to hire, who then promptly discards my resume in the nearest trash bin or rips it into 4 neat squares and uses the backs as scrap paper. Second, I search the internet for mid-sized firms that engage in the type of legal work I would ideally like to practice in. I craft a letter directly to the managing partner of the firm, explaining that “I am looking for a chance to prove myself and to gain valuable experience.” I then explain “I am willing to work part-time. I am willing to work for a probationary period and I am willing to work for compensation well below market rate.” I have yet to receive a response to any of these e-mails. Third, alumni networking, I created an excel spreadsheet listing all the alumni from my Law School that have agreed to allow students to contact them. I e-mailed each one individually asking for advice or any job leads they might know of. For those who respond, I get, mechanically, each one of the following components or some derivation in a different order.  A sentence that expresses sympathy or sorrow for my position,  A sentence that explains I should “broaden” my search to a variety of legal settings including non-profit organizations and small/mid-size firms (gee… there is an idea why haven’t I thought of it? [see paragraph above])  A sentence or two that explains I should keep my skills fresh by finding a way to “volunteer” or provide pro bono legal services (tacitly implying that my general good demeanor will pay the bills and put food on the table), and finally,  a concluding paragraph that explains they are available if I’d like to call them at their home or office but that they really do not have any further advice. Here is one specimen (annotated) by way of example:
Dear [Jobless Lawyer],  I am very sorry to hear about your situation. My suggestion would be to keep looking. There may be jobs at smaller (mid to small sized firms) that you would have to take a pay cut to work for, but still may be worthwhile.  I would suggest broadening your search, if you have not already done so.  With respect to finding something that will allow you to develop your skills as a litigator, I would suggest that you reach out to non-profit/pro bono organizations, many of whom have special programs to permit laid off associates to work (albeit for free). Those are my initial thoughts.  Feel free to give me a call at the contact information below, although unfortunately I doubt can be of much further assistance. ~ [Ivy League Crony]
I am in no way trying to diminish the responses these alums took the time to type to me, because the reality is this is the best advice they can give. I just would have thought that maybe one out of fifty could have started their e-mail with “I have a friend…” or “I know of this small firm that is hiring” or “let me pass your resume to an old colleague of mine.” I mean so much for Ivy League cronyism, for those of you who think it exists, I am living proof it doesn’t. $250,000 worth of degrees… today that and $2.25 will get me on bus (to make my point even clearer the bus costs $2.25). Fourth, the “informational interview.” This is where job seekers are encouraged to call up random folks for any variety of reasons (i.e. you are interested in the type of work they do, they are an alumnus, they look like they might need a friend etc.) and ask them out for coffee, a meal, dinner etc. There is no expectation that this will lead to a job, in fact it is almost certain that it will not. These meetings, I am told, should be treated like formal interviews, although they are not. The story goes that before leaving the “interview” you should get the name of another individual from the interviewer that you can go on another “informational interview” with. Sort of like those bizarre pyramid schemes that leaves some ambitious housewife driving a pink Cadillac but the rest of them with a basement full of expiring cosmetics. Unfortunately, I have not found the Cadillac. Adding insult to injury, my girlfriend refers to these endeavors as “man dates.” It would be worth the ridicule if something came of them, but nothing has. My fifth strategy is to get up on my soapbox and scream out to the world that I need a job and to please hire me. I did this by paying $25 dollars to post an ad in the job section of craigslist. Yes, I realize it is annoying when you are searching through job postings to find that one sad soul whose post reads “JUNIOR ATTORNEY LOOKING FOR WORK,” but I figured hey maybe that guy (or girl) was on to something I wasn’t, and I took the plunge. Here was my post:
Vault Top 10 Firm Litigation Associate – Looking for Experience I am a prior big law junior litigation associate, and a product of the recent economic downsizing currently occurring at the majority of corporate firms. I am looking for an opportunity to keep my litigation skills fresh and learn new areas of law until I am able to secure another full time position. My primary areas of interest are business/commercial, antitrust, securities, appeals, soft IP and real estate litigation. I am willing to entertain offers for lower (but reasonable) paying positions, as long as they provide for extensive substantive legal experience in a variety of areas. My Credentials:
- Law journal experience.
- Two published law journal articles and one currently in peer review.
- Worked as a law clerk for a State Judge.
- Worked in-house for a large publicly traded Fortune 500 company.
- Approximately 1 year of litigation related experience.
Ideally, I would like to put my services to use for a medium sized litigation boutique, either in NYC or easily commutable from NYC, and involved in at least some of the areas of law I mentioned above. Although these are not firm requirements by any means. Please e-mail me with any offers. I can provide my resume, references, and writing samples upon request.
That day I received four responses: The First:
Just wanted to wish you good luck. You might want to check out NJ’s recent pro bono initiative…that’s something I am going to look into. Also, I doubt it matters, but for what it is worth, American Lawyer is the default guide for ranking law firms, not Vault–if you were to say ’AmLaw top 10 firm’ it might make more of an impression…like i said, just a thought. [Mr. I am not Barred in New Jersey but Thanks for the Tip]
Dear Sir or Madam: I saw your craigslist post. I am a new entry level associate looking for a position. I would like to treat you to lunch if you are in the city sometime to have a discussion about your experiences which I believe would be beneficial to my own career. I imagine there are a lot of experienced associates such as yourself and new entry level associates such as myself “out there” right now competing for a few law positions. I hope that we could learn from one another. Please contact me by responding to this message. Otherwise, I wish you well in finding employment. [Mr. Two Heads are Better than One but not When we are Competing for the Same Jobs]
I saw your Craigslist post and I don’t think you will have any problem finding employment. I was wondering if you happen to come across any firms looking for a good legal secretary if you could let me know, or refer them to me. I am looking for a Legal Secretary position, I attach a copy of my Resume for your review. Thank you, and good luck to you in your search, [Ms. Desperate Secretary Sending out Her Resume to Any Warm Body]
Hi, I noticed your craigslist advertisement. I am working on an article about the legal layoffs and I was wondering whether or not you’ve seen any results? Thanks, [Mr. Unemployed Lawyer Posing as a Reporter to See If My Approach Was Successful]
To recap these are the four responses I received: 1) Someone correcting the title of my post, 2) Another unemployed lawyer looking for an “informational interview” 3) A legal secretary who for some unknown reason sent me her resume and 4) A reporter seeking to learn if my approach was successful. If it wasn’t for a fifth response (which came later) I would say this post was a complete waste of $25 bucks, however I did get what could be an actual legitimate lead for a part time position from this post. It is too early to tell but I will be sure to update in real-time on my twitter any success I may have hit upon with this approach.blog comments powered by Disqus