It’s always considered the best option to look for a new job when you already have a job – but what should you do if you’re unemployed at the time that you’re looking for something new? What are your options?
Your first priority, of course, should be to make sure that you’re able to pay the bills. This may involve taking on positions that aren’t in your field and may pay much less than you’re accustomed to – but in a difficult economy, it’s important to be flexible and expand the range of jobs that you’d be willing to take on. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck in a seeming dead-end job forever; it just means that you have the maturity to do what needs to be done until you find something that’s more appropriate to your skills and background.
Of course, don’t make the mistake of taking on a full-time low-paying job that won’t leave you with any time to look for your realjob — this is counter-productive and leads to a low return on investment (ROI), i.e. with you working many hours but moving no closer at all to your career goals.
Let’s say you’ve taken care of paying the bills, and you have a number of opportunities in the pipeline that may lead to a promising full-time position. Hiring can be a long-term process, however, one that can take months as companies often interview many candidates for a position, and take their time in making a decision. What can or should you be doing in the meantime?
One good option is to look for interim or short-term work. This is a possibility in most professions, including law. As firms remain reluctant to add full-time employees to their payrolls, they continue to turn to contract employees or consultants, those who have the necessary background and skills to do the work yet do not require an outlay of benefits and other pricey add-ons that make full-time employees an expensive proposition.
Many then wonder how to find this kind of work, as so many avenues in the employment sector are geared towards full-time employment. The first thing to do is let people know you’re interested in shorter-term opportunities. Your friends, former classmates, and contacts on LinkedIn are a great place to start. Be as specific as possible about your skills and where and how you think you can add value. Now is not the time to be shy! The more people know about what you can contribute, the better.
It’s also certainly worthwhile to identify and contact those staffing companies in your area that specialize in short-term legal placement (a good place to start is Lawmatch’s National Directory of Legal Recruiters). In every major market there are at least several branches of national staffing companies, and often several locally owned firms as well. While it’s true that the majority of assignments offered through these companies are tedious document review projects, not all of their assignments are in this realm. And even if you do end up working on a document review assembly line, you’re putting yourself in an environment where you at least have a chance of making new connections or distinguishing yourself in some way. These kinds of jobs can also help you build a resume of relevant experience that’ll add to the profile that you present to potential full-time employers. If your resume reflects an eagerness to succeed in the legal field, prospective employers will recognize that effort.