Sunday, July 26, 2009

resumes question

Someone asked about how much information to put in the "personal" section of the resume.  This person inquired whether they should list that they came to the United States via the asylum process.  

A commenter pointed out that it might be awkward for the interviewers to ask about the asylum notation.  I agree.  There are many restrictions regarding what we can and cannot ask about in an interview - including age, marital status, national origin, etc.  I would be concerned as an interviewer about asking the candidate regarding his or her asylum notation out of concern it might run afoul of employment laws and regulations. To me, this seems like something you could address in an interview.  Like where an interviewer asked about difficult challenges you have faced, or unique circumstances, or why you went to law school.  I think in that context, your asylum situation would be an interesting and unique take on those questions.

As for other things in the "personal" section, I don't usually spend too much time looking at it; honestly, I would really only remember if it had something unusual (or odd) - which wouldn't necessarily be a good thing.  Most of them say similar things - cooking, travel, road races, etc.  I am more impressed when people show me deep experience and an ability to juggle - since that is what we do every day in law firms - we typically don't get to work on one memo all day or for multiple days until we feel satisfied; rather we have to put out multiple fires and oftentimes when we think we will spend the afternoon doing one thing, a separate unexpected issue comes up and totally derails our plans.

So, if you've supported yourself by working through college/law school - that is something I think should be noted.  If you served in the military - say in Iraq and commanded a unit -- yes, that is relevant and important experience -- clearly you could operate under stress!  (And yes, I have seen reference letters from commanding officers that did help a candidate get a job). 
If you've had unusual and challenging internships, note those as well.  I would just stay away from too much personal stuff.  Are you moving to a "new" city to be with your fiance?  Not for the resume, but more for the interview or perhaps cover letter to explain your connection.

I prefer one page resumes, but if you've had a LOT of work experience -- i.e., you took time between college and law school of more than a couple years -- and you feel you need to go to the next page - then go ahead.  But bear in mind some reviewers may not turn the page. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blog's One Year Anniversary - Partial Reveal!

Hello everyone.  I am sorry I haven't blogged lately.  As you know, HP is of course a practicing attorney and HP got really busy with work and multiple deadlines, plus various social commitments.  I will try to blog more often in the coming weeks.

No, I wasn't out celebrating the big one year anniversary of the blog. Can you believe it has been one year since I launched with my list of the top things that annoy the hiring partner?  I really had no big plans to become a blogger, per se, I just kept seeing certain behaviors in our younger lawyers that I knew were really hurting them.  Has this changed?  Well, to a certain extent, due to the economy and the massive change in the way law firms hire and retain lawyers, I do think there's less a sense of entitlement than we had been seeing.  There's still plenty of room for guidance and improvement.  

I will answer some of your questions in upcoming posts but I really felt for the big one year anniversary, something momentous was required.  Something exciting.  Well, no, F-3 and I are not running off to the sunshine of the blogsphere to live happily ever after.  Though I certainly appreciate all F-3 has done in his/her contributions to the blog.  And I appreciate the contributions of the rest of you (except of course when you are slamming HP with really nasty comments).

Which brings me to the big one year celebration announcement.  Are you ready?  Really ready?
(heck I am not sure I am ready)......

HP is a Woman!  

Yes, a female.  So many of you just assumed HP was a man. (Some of you still doubt I am even a lawyer, but I can assure you I am in possession of a valid law degree and bar membership).  I am not certain why so many assumed I am a man.  Because I am a partner?  A Hiring Partner? Heck, plenty of Hiring Partners are women. Was it because I often tell it how it is, kind of straight up, whether it seems harsh or not?  I am not sure, but for those who sometimes accused me of not having a women's point of view, or being anti-woman (which I and those who have worked with me found comical), it may simply have been because I was trying to be gender neutral.

OK, so what does this mean?  Well I hoped you've learned that assumptions can often be wrong. And, hopefully this doesn't change anything. I still aspire to give you useful advice - don't worry guys I am there for you.  For our women readers, I'm hoping this opens up more of a discourse on women's issues in the workplace.  Believe me, I have been there. No one has handed me anything and I know it is not easy.  We can't do it all, 100 percent. Some of us can do a bunch of things pretty (or really) well. But superwoman does not exist. You have to recognize you can't have it all, all the time.  That's been my conclusion.  Sometimes I'm a great parent; sometimes I'm a great lawyer; sometimes I am both; but other times if I'm being a great lawyer and working all night to get something done and missing activities - no, I'm not being a terrific parent.  I guess we will discuss some of this down the road.

Well, I hope that was exciting and I look forward to some thought provoking comments and questions.  



Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ranking; other points of view

Hey folks, on the ranking, I would go with "no layoffs" but the problem is you wouldn't necessarily know about the stealth ones.  I would look at where my best chances are -   do they usually hire multiple candidates from my school, would my grades and other credentials normally make the cut, etc.   What area do I want to do, and do they have a substantial practice in that area (assuming I know).   As I said, shoot wide because it is going to be extremely difficult to get a summer 2L gig AND after that, even if you've done a solid job, no offer  may follow.  

I've been meaning to reach out to our practicing lawyer and recruiter readers.  I am guessing you have some great ideas to contribute here.  Folks, what have you seen this summer or during last year's interviews that candidates should know they should do differently?  What really "saved" a candidate.  HP has a lot of experience, but mine is only one person's and I would welcome your thoughts....and I bet our readers would as well.

Separate note:  I sent an email to someone recently.  I think the guy is out on vacation.  Odd out of office message specifically indicating he is not checking messages and you may wish to call when he gets back because your message might get lost in all his emails that have come in while he was out. I thought this was an odd message. I mean I got the point, but if I were a client, I might think he was saying my matter wasn't particularly important and he's just so busy with other stuff he might forget about my matter.  I just think there's ways to convey these types of messages in ways that make clients and others confident that their matters are or can be covered and that they are important.  Even though clients know we have other clients, they also like to know that they are a top priority.  A better way would be to say "I will be in an area with limited Internet access, but in my absence you can contact my colleagues xyz and abc, who have been briefed on outstanding matters and should be in a position to assist you [and will know how to reach me].  I've often found that most things do wait till after vacation or other absences, but putting a confident message out really helps.  

Hope the week goes well. 

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Someone asked about how to rank firms for fall OCI -- in summary, whether firms that have laid off might be better prospects since they have shed "extra weight," or whether lay offs are a sign of a firm's instability and in essence, mean the firm really has no need for further people.   In a normal law firm world, I would say to regard firms that have done lay offs very cautiously.  But, nothing about the current state of the legal market is normal.  

Hence, my answer to "how do you rank is?"..... are you crazy?  I would rank the firms by "where the hell might I get a job?"  This is not a law student/associate market.  Did you miss that?  I'm sorry, but those days are over.  Hopefully, the firms going on campus in fact have slots to fill and hopefully they are being very careful with their numbers.  I know hiring partners and recruiting staff who have already called law schools (yes, even top 25 law schools) and indicated they are not coming on campus this fall.  So, if you've got firms coming on campus, I presume they have some slots to fill. And, at the end of the day, if you wind up with multiple offers, then great for you.  At that point (when you have offers), I would start the "ranking" process -- where do I feel comfortable, what is the firm's reputation in the area (for possible movement later, for instance), what do legal and other news say about the firm?  This is when we would consider lay offs.  For me, if it is a choice between a lay-off firm and one that hasn't done layoffs, I think I would lean toward the non-layoff firms, but you need to do some homework - how are the departments staffed, do they seem overstaffed?  How did the associates seem, did morale seem good?  Perhaps you can talk to someone who spent the summer there this past summer.  Do your homework.  But that is when you have an offer.  

At this point, before you have an offer, go fishing.  Throw that net out far and wide.  The days of the law firm world as your oyster are over.  Ranking will be for after the offer.  Take the interviews you get and go in with a positive attitude to all - even if maybe it's not your first choice -- it may be your only choice.  Sorry to be harsh, but that is the way of the law firm market today.  

Happy 4th.