thinker_closeupThe current economic dislocation has provoked a lot of lawyers to scurry for new career opportunities—sometimes under duress. In the midst of the commotion, many folks slip into reactive mode, chasing every posting on website job boards and drafting application materials without a clear sense of how they fit. This strategy is often a recipe for disaster—a lot of applications submitted, few interviews offered and a gradual sinking sense of self-defeat.

Rather than scurrying, in tight job markets, it is more important than ever to step back and take a good hard look at who you are and what you do best.

In my experience, lawyers tend not to be the most self-reflective lot. Taking time to connect with one’s own sense of values and purpose often isn’t easy, let alone encouraged by law schools and employers. However, job searching is about marketing – and good marketing requires knowledge of the product, you. If you are in the midst of job transition, consider the following:

Review your past work history and look for patterns. Ask yourself about what you did, what you liked and what you didn’t like for each experience. Are there any themes here?

Identify your core values and skills. What is most important to you in your life? (Money? Status? Service? Flexibility?) What do you do really well? What kinds of experiences align with what you know? While not easy to come by, this information is critical to your long-term success.

Revise your application materials to make sure they communicate clearly who you are and what you offer. These documents must reflect both an understanding of the job requirements AND how you match with them. It also means passing up some job opportunities and focusing on others with more potential.

(photo: Brian Hillegas)

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