Friday, August 21, 2009

answering some questions

Hello gang: sorry it has been awhile.  Life interrupted blogging.   I think the next several weeks will be interesting as we hear about OCI, fall out from summer 2009 (sorry but I think we will see some heavy no offers), and what the summer 08 class does to fill their time until Jan 2010, assuming that date holds.

What I would (and I bet our readers) would like to hear from you is...what are some creative "getting job" solutions you've heard about - or implemented yourselves?  I'm looking for some stories of creative solutions to the "what do I do till Jan 2010" and "what do I do if I am no offered from Summer 2009?" Or any other job hunting stories you have to share - e.g., post layoffs too.  I can share my thoughts but I always think a broader range of opinions is helpful.

So feel free to chime in.  

Some recent questions: thank you notes after summer associateship.  Yes, good idea to send to HP and others with whom you worked, nothing wrong with showing your appreciation and continued interest. I got some email ones and that was fine with me, but I do think you get a little more "bang" with a note because we get soooo many emails every day that it kind of goes flashing by and opening a note takes a little more time.

A blog reader asked about her intention to move to a new city (and interviewing with firms there) because she is recently engaged.  She wondered if mentioning the engagement somehow worked against her.  No, this is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why you are changing cities and your connection to the area.  And, a very common one we have seen many times.  No worries.  Just explain that your fiance is in new city; you intend to make this your home, and this is the only city in which you are now interviewing.  

Someone I don't know well asked me for a reference.  I would be happy to scream "this person is great" for someone I worked with and I do think is great; however, I really can't do a reference for someone whose work and workplace/social interaction I have never observed.  That would, among other things, affect my credibility with the people to whom I am recommending candidate.  So, be cautious when you think about references.  You really want someone with whom you have worked. Someone who has seen your interactions in the workplace and socially and someone who has reviewed your work product.  And, this is a hard one, but you want someone who you feel will give a glowing, fabulous, enthusiastic recommendation.  When we call to reference check, we can pick up on "he is good" versus "this is the best lawyer since Clarence Darrow and we wish we weren't losing him to your city."  It might just be the person talking and maybe they are not the bubbly type, but if you can target your reference person to be someone you think will really sell you, focus on that person.

I am thinking of instituting or re-instituting a "tip of the day" to get some quick advice out and keep the blog going.  

First tip of the day:  sometimes we all need to recognize that the suits that fit us, say, last year, are kind of too tight now.  Yes, we gained a little weight.  Sometimes we just need to accept this, and go to another size until we can get back into the old ones.  I've seen some horrible skin tight suits on men and women alike.  It is not attractive when we can see the outline of your body parts.  Not professional and quite distracting.  Do yourself a favor and invest in something slightly larger.  You can always donate the "bigger suits" to a good cause like one of those putting people back in the workforce groups once you get back to fighting weight.  


Anonymous said...

As always, thanks for your excellent advice.

With recruiting season upon us, I was wondering what the rule of thumb is for career fairs like Lavender Law and unsolicited mailers. If I'm going to see a firm at Lavender Law should I refrain from mailing in my information beforehand and risking a rejection? Do firms typically have quotas they want to recruit from career fairs (vs. OCI and mailings)?

Anonymous said...

This is far from "excellent advice". HP basically just said, "I have no clue what you No-Offered and No-Hired students are gonna do in this economy, so I'll just put the question back into your hands."

"broader range of opinions is helpful"

Yeah right, let the Blind lead the Blind.

1. I think asking for a recommendation is ridiculous. If the applicant was so great and wonderful, then WHY DIDN'T YOU (the recommender) HIRE HIM?

2. Thank you notes? Are you serious? You really think the Hiring Committee is going to reverse course and extend an offer simply b/c the SA had the temerity to send a $0.99 "thank you" card from Hallmark?

3. The suit tip was actually pretty good. Nobody likes the "canned sausage" look in a suit.

f-3 said...

I don't get the "recommendation is ridiculous" comment. Recommenders don't hire the job-seeker for so many obvious reasons - the candidate may decide to work in a different city; they may be lateralling into another firm; recommender's firm may not have open spots but remember having a good relationship with the candidate; candidate may not have liked the recommender's workplace but maintains a good relationship with the specific recommender, etc. Friend of mine who is just volunteering for a non-profit during his post-grad deferment period also got asked for references from previous employers. Even for a volunteering gig.

So, asking for a recommendation is not ridiculous - it is necessary. Not building a list of references - **and keeping up your relationship with them** - will only hurt you.

As for thank you notes - HP was saying that they are appreciated and a nice touch. No one's saying it will reverse a hiring decision. It's about professional etiquette. It's the same reason why you should send thank you notes to potential clients in the future, even though the client may still decide to go with your competitor.

We're looking for indications that a candidate knows how to behave professionally with clients and with other attorneys. Knowing professional etiquette - which includes thank you notes - has always been a part of it. No, it isn't on a checklist somewhere, and failure to send a thank you note is not a lethal error, but if I see a well-written and appropriate thank you note, it gives me one additional clue about the person's ability to behave like a professional.

Plus summer programs take time and effort to put together. No matter how much your firms cut back, they probably still took you out to lunch / dinner, and scheduled events for your enjoyment. And attorneys took time to give you work experience. Saying "thank you" - whether it's on a card or in an e-mail - is the least SAs can do.

Anonymous said...

A thank you note to your Summer Internship is not about "professional etiquette" it is about sucking up and gaining favor. It is why people do it after interviews, it isn't because they are "so grateful that the employer took the time out of his busy schedule" It is because the applicant wants to do whatever is necessary to gain favor with the decision-maker. How many No-Offered or No-Hired individuals do you REALLY think are gonna send a "Thank you" note?

I worked at McDonald's as a kid, should I send them a "thank you" note for the opportunity to learn how to flip burgers and cook fries?

Getting a letter of recommendation from a non-profit org. in which you volunteered with during your deferal is COMPLETELY different than going to the Partner at a firm you SA'd for and asking for a letter of recommendation.

One has an inherent understanding that the applicant WILL NOT be working here and therefore it is understandable why a LoR is being written. The other raises a peculiar question of why the recommender didn't snatch-up this "wonderful applicant"

Anonymous said...

hp was talking about getting letters of rec to apply for jobs in general, not necessarily a 2L asking his summer supervisors to give him a rec. Plus firms are no-offering left and right. If a 3L is looking for a job right now, and if your summer employer is willing to say your no-offer was economic, it would be to your advantage to get that in writing.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 3L who didn't get an offer from my summer firm (economic reasons), and I'm asking a couple of partners I worked with for recommendations. I think the "well why didn't you hire them, then?" question isn't always pertinent. At least for me, the partners I'm asking weren't on the hiring committee and were surprised I didn't get an offer, so I think of it as a "yes, they were good, no idea why we didn't hire them" recommendation.

Anonymous said...


I'm a 3L with an offer to start no earlier than Jan 2011. Any recommendations on what to do in the mean time? Or how to spend my 3L and in between time to further my career?