Right now, there’s little to no law firm hiring. It’s not permanent, but certainly until Shelter in Place is lifted in the Bay Area and we find a new normal, I don’t expect it to pick up. Does this mean you should just keep churning away at what you’re doing and put hopes of making a move on a shelf? No. There’s plenty you can do with this downtime. There are also a lot of reasons you may want to be thinking about a new firm: yours doesn’t feel stable, you’re not happy with how it has handled the pandemic response, you’ve decided to relocate geographically as a result of the pandemic (the suburbs are looking awfully good to me right now!), or this intense period has caused you to realize you just aren’t happy. That’s all legitimate and mirrors what I’m hearing from associates on a daily basis. So, here’s what you can do now:
- Connect with a recruiter so that you’re top of mind when things open back up. I am having several conversations with associates every day. In fact, I’m finding them to be longer and more fruitful than they were when the market was robust. People have really had time to do some (productive) navel gazing and have thought through the pieces of their current roles that are working and not working for them. As a result, they’re coming to me with a much more considered wishlist. Also, because everyone is at home, people can speak freely. That’s incredibly valuable for these conversations!
- Get your resume in order—especially if you’ve been in practice for some time. This is not an overnight project and can take quite a bit of time, so get to work pulling out your historical billing list and updating your representative matters/dealsheet. Be overly inclusive so that your recruiter can have the kitchen sink and pare it down from there. That’s right – after you’ve found your recruiter, ping your draft resume across to him/her for review so that it’s in ship shape when the market reopens.
- Begin thinking about how to answer interview questions. Some good examples, tailored to this moment: Why are you looking to leave your job now? Tell me about a conflict you had at your current firm. What do you believe this job offers that your current one does not? Practice your answers with a trusted friend via Zoom, your recruiter or your spouse.
- Polish up your LinkedIn. Yes, hiring managers (both in HR and partners) will sneak a look. Make sure it’s not an outdated photo from law school and that it accurately represents your work. I have had recruiting managers call and ask me why a candidate was looking for a specific role when her LinkedIn suggested she wasn’t a fit. She was, but her LinkedIn was not up to date. I think this led to enough doubt that the candidate wasn't selected to interview. It matters, so take an hour and spruce it up.
I know everything feels very uncertain right now. Hopefully following these steps will help you to feel you’re taking some control back.