3 Ways to Excel at Marketing Yourself in Today’s Economy

The key to landing your dream job (or dream career change) is to put yourself in front of potential employers – they can’t hire you if they don’t know you are out there. Learning effective ways to market yourself can have a huge impact on the number of resume requests and interviews you get. How do you start marketing yourself in a way that will make the employers come to you? Here are three techniques:

  1. Identify what you’re good at and what you can offer an employer. Hiring managers aren’t just interested in filling open positions; they are interested in gaining assets for the company. How could you be an asset? What kind of information about you does an employer need to see to know that you will be a valuable addition to the team? You need to address your accomplishments in all of your marketing materials. You also need to make it very clear about how an employer can benefit through bringing you on board.

  2. Rework your resume and cover letter. Depending on the industry, sometimes it is better to stand out and be different. People looking to make a career change to a  creative industry, like publishing or entertainment, could benefit from sending out distinctively formatted resumes and cover letters as representative of their creative talents. Often times, marketing yourself effectively means taking chances and standing out from the crowd.

  3. Utilize new technology. The job market is a crowded place right now, saturated with many highly qualified people. Some have recently been laid off from a corporation or law firm, others are recent law school grads and there are also those who are looking to make a career change. To make sure you see (and are considered for) every available job, spread yourself out over the Internet. Use LinkedIn, Facebook and Craigslist. Post your resume on every job board and social media site you can identify – you never know where your next opportunity will come from. The posting process will take many hours, but if you land a six figure job, it will have been time well spent. You should also eblast your resume to as many executive recruiters that you can find; remember, too, that recruiters typically work nationally, not locally. In addition, you should  do cold mailings to companies of interest in your targeted location or industry — just because they are not advertising open positions doesn’t mean there aren’t openings. Keep in mind that research shows only about 7% of available jobs are advertised on the web. To find that 7%, you should  set up a “job agent” to scan the Internet for appropriate opportunities. Career Strategies can perform many of these services for you through our Contacts and Connections program.


The Top 4 Job Hunting and Career Planning Tips During a Recession

Is the recession really putting a damper on your career planning process? It’s hard to move up the ladder and land your dream job when you’re not even getting interview requests. It’s important to not lose hope, however. From hiring a professional resume writer to changing your career planning agenda, there are several things you can do to boost your chances of getting hired. Here are the top four tips and tricks to help you score the job you’ve always dreamed of:

  1. Brush up on your skills. Anyone who is serious about career planning knows that you’ve got to keep your skills relevant. Often times, this translates to taking a class on the latest computer programs or educating yourself about the latest things going on in your industry. If you know what you’re doing, you’re more likely to get hired!

  2. Hire a professional resume writer. Sure, a professional resume writer may cost some money up front. But it’ll pay for itself within the first week of you landing a new job, and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes along with knowing your resume is 100 percent error-free.

  3. Focus on social networking. Millions of organizations and people have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages these days…including companies that are currently hiring. New media is a great way to find out about new jobs as they’re posted – getting in early may be what gets you the job. For more information check out our prior post on using the internet for a career change!

  4. Try part-time work. To prevent gaps in your resume (which is a major career planning no-no), try freelance, part-time or volunteer work. Keeping yourself busy isn’t just a great way to fend off boredom, it can also make the difference between getting hired and getting passed over for (another) job.


Why Hire A Professional Resume Writer?

The economy is unstable, unemployment rates remain shockingly high and it doesn’t look like anything is going to change dramatically any time soon. While there are jobs out there (our clients are getting interviews and we have already completed three cases in the first six weeks of the year), with the market being what it is, how is the average job hunter supposed to find a new position

When you have done all the career planning you can possibly think of, it may be time to hire a professional resume writer.

One of the biggest advantages of hiring a resume writing professional is that you know your resume will be flawless and compelling. One of the biggest complaints that recruiters and human resource professionals have with job applicants is one of the easiest to correct: cover letters and resumes with glaring errors.

Let me give you an example of a letter we received from a candidate just the other day:

“I saw your “ad” on Monster.Com and am interested in your services.  My interests, skills, knowledge and abilities far exceed the law and would welcome the opportunity to discuss alternatices.  Resume attached.”

Beside the obvious typo (I have never discussed “alternatices” with anyone before), and the two less obvious grammatical errors, there is an error in judgment and presentation that would be sure to turn off a potential employer.

By hiring a professional resume writer, you are doing more than just career planning: you are taking an active role in your job search, and eliminating the possibility that a grammatical or strategic error on your resume could be holding you back. Yes, it will cost more money than if you were to sit down at your kitchen table and write it yourself, but you will end up with a presentation-quality resume that is not only completely error free, but which presents your credentials and talents in the best light possible.

You can work with your resume writer to customize resumes and cover letters for each individual job to which you apply. Tailoring your paperwork to match the specific criteria of each job that you are applying for will go a long way toward getting you noticed by the hiring managers.

When you work with a professional to highlight only your relevant work history, it will look like you spent your entire life concentrating on building your skills in that particular discipline or practice area. Although a professional resume writer will cost money up front, it is a small investment that can help you secure a six-figure job more quickly, and it will pay for itself many times over.

Hundreds Attend NYS Bar Career Conference

CSI’s switchboard is jammed!

Hundreds of attorneys attended the New York State Bar Association’s annual career conference held in New York City on January 25, 2010. Many hundreds more participated in the event, which was simulcast on the web.

Career Strategies founder Bruce Blackwell was one of several panelists. His presentation contained solid information about job search methods and issues in this shaky economy. As a result, the switchboard at Career

Strategies has been overloaded with calls.

“The response has been much more than gratifying,” said Mr. Blackwell, who added that because of the volume of calls and emails that have been flooding in, “it has been hard for us to get back to everyone as quickly as we would like.” He asks callers and emailers to please be patient, and assures them that their inquiries will be followed up as quickly as possible.

Other panelists included Dr. Leslie Seppinni, Author of Excuse Free Living; Kelly Hoey, White and Case, Manager of Alumni Relations; and Elena F. Kaspi, President and Founder of LawScope Coaching. NYSBA Webmaster Barbara Beauchamp also made a highly informative presentation about how to use NYSBAs social networking tools.

This is the fourth time the New York State Bar has held a career conference, and the second to which Mr. Blackwell was invited to speak. The event was chaired by Lauren Wachtler, Chairperson of the Lawyers in Transition Committee.

The day consisted of three hours of formal presentations by the speakers, and then two more hours of Q&A from the audience.

“I was honored to be asked again to speak before the New York State Bar Association’s members,” said Blackwell. “The panelists presented truly outstanding information about how to navigate through these difficult times, and the audience asked some excellent questions covering the whole range of job search and career development issues.”

For those who could not attend, or who would like to see the presentations again, the full program is available on the internet through the NYSBA website.

The Top 4 Reasons to Consider A Career Change

In a recent survey conducted by Monster.com, 90 percent of job seekers said that they would consider a career change – and 49 percent said that they were actively seeking to change industries. Looking to make a move of your own, but aren’t sure if a career change is right for you? Below is a list of the top four reasons most people consider a career change::

1. To secure employment and a source of income. With the job market being so competitive these days, more and more people change industries just to keep some sort of income flowing in. If given the choice between waiting for a job in your own industry for an indefinite period of time or taking a lower level position like a contract legal temp job just to pay the bills, many people choose the latter.

2. To move up the ladder. Because so many companies and law firms are cutting jobs, fewer positions are available to enable employees to move people up the ladder. As a result, some are opting to make a career change instead of wallowing forever in stagnant law firm and corporate waters.

3. There’s too much competition. Sure, you might have spent the last 15 years doing real estate law, but if there aren’t any real estate law jobs in your area, what are you going to do? Some choose to go back to get an LL.M or MBA to enhance their competitive edge, while others opt to move into different practice areas; taking the proper CLE courses can provide the basic knowledge, which can be supplemented by independent reading and study.

4. To become happier. This is the big one. Sometimes, a career choice turns out to be a nightmare. When you are just not happy with your current position at all, it’s not likely that a change in employer will make you happier. We have seen people move to “lifestyle” law firms only to find out that they still need to put in 2000 hours or more. If you are a litigator but hate the constantly adversarial nature of your work, a change in law firms won’t make a fundamental difference in your happiness. Oftentimes, the best thing to do is make a bold career change move. It might be challenging at first, but if it makes you happier for the rest of your working days, it will be worth it. You can enjoy your job and be well compensated all at the same time!

In a recent survey conducted by Monster.com, 90 percent of job seekers said that they would consider a career change – and 49 percent said that they were actively seeking to change industries. Looking to make a move of your own, but aren’t sure if a career change is right for you? Below is a list of the top four reasons most people consider a career change:

The Top 4 Career Change Cover Letter Tips

If you’re looking to make a big change in your career – changing industries, applying for different types of positions than you’ve previously held, etc., you need to adjust more than your resume. An impressive career change cover letter can make the difference between getting called in for an interview or getting lumped in with the “do not call” list. To help you along your way, here are four tips for writing a career change cover letter that will wow your future employers:

  1. Make sure it’s formatted correctly. The way you format your career change resume is as important as the content itself. Not sure how to arrange what it is that you want to say? Do a little research, there are tons of samples online that you can use as a starting point.

  2. Cover your bases. Have employment gaps in your resume? Did you hold a former job for a short period of time? Your career change cover letter is the perfect place to address these kinds of issues. Explain anything that might raise red flags, don’t just hope the person in charge of hiring won’t notice (the job market is so crowded right now, everything gets noticed).

  3. Write a fresh cover letter for each job you apply for. Don’t just send out the same career change cover letter for every job you apply for – make it unique to the position. Include a bit about how much you’d love the opportunity to work for the company. Sure, it’ll take a little more time and effort, but it will most likely pay off in the end.

  4. Edit, edit, edit! Before sending out your career change resume, give it another once over and make sure there aren’t any errors in your spelling or grammar. Not sure? Hire a professional cover letter writer to edit it for you!


How to Write A Great Career Change Resume

Are you on the market for a new job? Looking to switch industries? The most important step in the career planning process is to have a great resume – you won’t get the job if your resume isn’t good enough to get you in the door. Below are five tips that will help you create a dynamic resume:

  1. Emphasize specific accomplishments. With today’s competitive job market, it is not enough to say that you managed 50 people. In addition to listing your title and duties at each job, include your accomplishments. Did you win any awards? Did you land any big clients? What did you do to make your department or organization better? What problems did you help your clients solve? You have many skills … how did you apply those skills to produce results? Be specific!
  2. Utilize an executive profile section. Make your resume stand out by telling the reader, at a glance, about your background and skills. Use this information, often as bullet points, at the top of the resume. Show the talents you have that relate to the needs of the targeted company. Don’t brag … just be factual about your experience and your strongest attributes. Get the reader interested in learning more about you.
  3. Remember, it’s all relative. If you are applying for a writing position, don’t emphasize your courtroom skills. Focus on your accurate, persuasive writing abilities, your ability to produce work under pressure and the range of your writing: motions, briefs, appeals, opinion letters and so on. Keep the experience and accomplishments you list on your resume relative to the job for which you are applying … otherwise, it won’t seem like you are focused.
  4. Formatting is important. The way you design your resume is critical. An effective resume is not just about substance, it is also about form. You want it to be eye catching, as well as easy to read. Leave plenty of white space in the margins. Use headings. Use bullets, but sparingly – too many bullets defeat their  purpose. Also, try to stay away from the standard templates that come with MSWord – everyone uses these templates so all of the resumes tend to look the same. Get your own identity!
  5. Edit, edit, edit! Does your resume have any typos? Are you sure? Don’t trust your “spell-checker” program: “then” and “than” are both spelled correctly, but may be used incorrectly in one of your sentences. Have a friend look your resume  over with a fresh set of eyes, because there may be something that you are missing. Having just one typo on your resume will almost certainly eliminate you as a candidate for a job.

Career planning and job search takes a bit of work; don’t be afraid to tinker with your resume before sending it out.

Five Common Interview Questions You Should Have Answers Ready For

Since today’s job market is more competitive than ever, you need to be prepared to wow an interviewer as soon as you walk in the door. Differentiating yourself from your competition is crucial, whether you are applying for corporate attorney jobs or fast food fryer positions. A key step to preparing for an interview is having appropriate responses ready for common interview questions. Below are five common interview questions that almost every interviewer asks, as well as suggestions for appropriate responses:

  1. Tell me about yourself. This is more of a statement than a question, but it is a standard request for which you should have a prepared answer. Focus your answer on the aspects of your career that are on point with the job for which you are interviewing. Do not recite your job history … hit them with your best shot!  Don’t ramble, and keep it fairly short

  2. What is your greatest weakness? This is probably one of the most common interview questions that interviewers ask – and it is kind of a trick. Don’t think  you can fool the interviewer by disguising a positive as a negative, e.g. “I spend a lot of time paying attention to details, but I just like to make sure all of the Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted.” This will be taken as self-serving BS. Instead, cite a real negative but one that you are working to overcome. Example: “I used to be afraid of public speaking but I went to a Toastmasters course and now I am much more comfortable with it.”

  3. Why do you want to work for this company? This is a popular one with corporate attorney jobs – you need to know what about the company is different than its competitors, and the only way to do that is to do some homework. Find something unique about the company’s corporate culture or business model, and make sure it is nothing obvious that lots of interviewees will also cite. Again, you want to stand out from the competition, not blend into it.

  4. Why did you leave your current position? Whatever you do, do not hint that it had something to do with not getting along with your bosses or co-workers. Try to frame it in a positive way, if you can. Don’t talk poorly of your previous employer, no matter how badly you hated your job.

  5. Do you have any questions for me? This is probably the most important out of the common interview questions you’ll be asked. We recommend that you actually ask questions at the beginning stages of the job interview … things like the mission for the position, the immediate challenges and so on. Show that you know a great deal about the company and its competitive environment by the nature of the questions that you ask. Do not ask questions about compensation or benefits … this will come later when you are discussing an offer. The time you invested in researching the company and developing good questions could be what lands you the job.

5 Tips for Using the Internet for Making a Mid Life Career Change

The Internet can be an invaluable asset to somebody looking to make a mid life career change – if you know how to use it to your advantage. Whether you’re looking for attorney jobs or nonprofit jobs, almost anyone can utilize the web to find the job of their dreams. To help you get started, here are five tips for using the Internet for job placement:

  1. Google yourself. These days, almost every employer uses Google before making a final hiring decision. What does Google say about you? You want search engines to find nothing but positive things about you – not a newspaper article about an old DUI or bankruptcy. This is especially important for people looking for high profile positions, like attorney jobs.

  2. Update your resume. Before you can get started on the path to a mid life career change, you need to have a career change resume. Update yours to include information specific to the type of job you want. For example, if you want to work for a nonprofit, highlight any volunteer work you’ve done for past organizations.

  3. Post your resume online. The more websites you maintain a presence on, the more people will come across your resume. Try Monster, CareerBuilder, Yahoo! Hot Jobs, anything and everything. Go beyond just posting your new career change resume on these websites — use them to actively search out the type of job that you’re looking for. You’ve got nothing to lose by putting yourself out there, and everything to gain.

  4. Network your way to the job you want. Websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter aren’t just for kids. Your future employer is probably on these sites, too – and you could be missing out on opportunities by not having a presence there. Have a specific company that you want to work for? Follow them on Twitter, and you’ll be the first to know when they’re hiring.

  5. Don’t give up if you get frustrated. Getting the hang of using the Internet for job placement can be challenging if you’ve never done it before. Don’t give up! Eventually, you’ll become an Internet job hunting expert…but it takes time. Sooner or later, your dream employer will find you!

If you do not have the time to become an internet job search marketing expert, or if you simply want to off-load that function, Career Strategies can do the work for you! We can even apply to posted positions on your behalf. For more information, please contact Bruce Blackwell at 914-683-5330 ext. 15.

Predictions For The Legal Industry In 2010

As a nation we have seen our fair share of turmoil in the past two years. It seems like one financial event trumps the previous one. If it was not the Bernard Madoff scandal it was double digit unemployment.  But as our country goes through this roller-coaster of change we also need to adapt and realize that growth and success is possible in any market. As the legal industry downsizes and changes in hiring practices occur, the ones that are aware of the new environment will be able to further their career. So lets look forward to 2010! What are the analysts predicting?

Downsizing coming to a standstill

Firms used the financial crisis to slim down significantly, both out of necessity and as a chance to unload unproductive associates that have been on there payroll for to long. For example in 2009 we saw the headline “Megafirm is cutting 38 attorneys and 86 paralegals and staff in its North American offices”, reported by Above the Law, based on a written statement provided by Baker & McKenzie. They said, “but while we can be confident that the economic outlook will inevitably brighten, it is difficult to know when the upturn will begin.”

As we know in 2009 industry leaders predicted that salaries would be frozen and would stay there.  Above the Law reported that certain firms are  giving associates class-appropriate raises that will return them back to a regular scale. Which is not a drastic increase, but it means the industry is back in business.  There is talk in the industry about certain firms moving to a merit based system, but it does not seem that it will take over  industry practices.

Promotions will be conservative but trend upwards

Like in the past law firms will promote lawyers in a conservative manner, but as the economy and markets recover there will be advancements within firms.  These trends will be different from firm to firm due to structural differences.

What method will be used to profit
There seems to be a trend that clients are starting to set there own rules on billing, from hourly contract to a fixed fee rate. It should be interesting to see how this one plays out. For example, the Chicago Tribune reported that “Northfield-based Kraft Foods Inc. chose to do this by holding a bid process this year for its international, day-to-day legal services”.  A very interesting idea.

Those are some of the predictions from our industry leaders…

The trend of optimism is a nice way for the legal industry to start the New Year! There is no better time like the present to find that position that will excite, inspire and impact your over all well being. The first step to starting the year off on the right foot is by looking at your current situation by doing a Job Satisfaction Survey.  Change can be a good thing.