Blackwell to give networking seminar for NY State Bar 6/25 10am

I am honored to have been asked to present a seminar on networking for the New York State Bar Association. The webinar takes place Thursday, June 25 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It is free to NYS Bar members. For more information or to register, click here:

I personally was a networking hater, for many of the same reasons that you hate it. I have gotten smarter with age, and have learned how to create and use a network painlessly.  I am so sorry that I didn’t start doing this sooner, but better late than never! It’s not to late for you, either!

Don’t have a network? Don’t know how to use it? Aren’t getting the results you expected from your contacts? This seminar will give you 3 steps that are so easy even the most introverted and reluctant attorney can immediately start building a powerful personal network.

The program is an hour, will be both informative and entertaining, and can be 60 minutes that can change your life.

FYI, the event is also available to non-members of the NYS Bar, but there is a $100 fee (I don’t get that money – this is pro bono!)

Hope to “zoom” you Thursday!

Coronavirus Cuts – Accept a Pay Cut or Look for a New Job?

I had someone ask me the following question today about his cousin’s situation:

Q: “What if, due to the virus, your employer is furloughing the majority of staff, but is keeping you on at a 20% pay cut. If it took you 5+ years to make that 20% you are losing, won’t taking the pay cut  affect your marketability and ability to negotiate to get your original salary back at your next job? Or do you think it would be difficult to get your current salary if you were furloughed anyway?”

A:As for your cousin, I would tell him to SHUT UP AND BE GRATEFUL.  We are going to be getting into very, very difficult economic times. “Furloughs” are going to be turned into firings and many companies are going to be folding. He should be grateful he was deemed valuable enough to be kept on. Law firm partners, associates and staffers are all taking pay cuts now — some up to 50% — and the same holds true for the corporate world. I’d rather have 80% of something than 100% of nothing!”

The truth is that no one knows what the economy will be going through, or what’s going to be happening on the job market. We don’t know how long this situation will last.

You may be upset that your salary was cut, but many, many people – millions in fact, including attorneys and white collar executives – are going to be looking for new jobs. With companies and markets in economic chaos, there won’t be many new jobs out there and the competition for them is going to be unlike anything we have ever seen before.

I make my living by helping people find new jobs, but if you already have one, I’d hold onto it as tightly as you can. It’s not pleasant out there.

If you have been furloughed or laid off, I can help you compete in this very complex market. We are even offering up to 50% off our services for those who have suffered job loss because of Coronavirus. For the rest of you, hunker down and be as indispensable as you can to your firm.

The Job Market is Holding Its Own!

There are new law and executive jobs opening up.

There were 22 new attorney jobs posted on Ziprecruiter today (Thursday, March 26)  for New York City lawyers, 9 for lawyers in New Jersey, 1 posted today in Connecticut, and 5 in Massachusetts. So despite everything that’s happening with the economy, 37 new law jobs were posted today alone.

Over the last 5 days, there were 93 new open legal positions posted in New York City, 55 in New Jersey, 25 in Connecticut and 46 Massachusetts. That’s 219 new law jobs posted during a week where the government announced more than 3.3 million unemployment claims were filed, and many of us are are lockdown. Law firms and companies are hiring. .

There is still life in the job market for lawyers.  It’s not looking too bad for executives, either. There were 114 new Vice President jobs posted just today in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In the last 5 days – when it looked like people were losing their jobs in droves, there were 520 Vice President jobs posted in these same locales.

To be sure, the number of new job postings per day has dropped by 50% over the last month, but the trend seems to be levelling off this week (may the Corona curve do likewise!)

If you have been thinking that the  Coronavirus has brought a halt to professional- and senior- level hiring, it seems you may have to take another look. We will looking, too; we we will be  tracking the numbers and talking with hiring partners and executives. We will keep you posted. Stay well!


To help those impacted by Coronavirus – 50% off our services

LIke many companies, we want to help those whose lives and careers have been disrupted by the Coronavirus. I am not a doctor or nurse and can’t volunteer to give medical help, but I can give job search help. For those who have lost their jobs because of the lockdown, I am providing a discount of up to 50% on many of our services. I have also added to our team of resume writers so we can handle professions that we don’t normally represent. Job search now is going to be more complex than ever in modern history. My practice is in its 28th year, and we have been through some very good economic times and some  very bad economic times. We have helped people navigate through some very difficult job markets and find new positions. This is an unprecedented situation, but we have a  great deal of expertise and are here to help you. Money is going to be tight for many people, so we are pleased to be able to offer a variety of our job search assistance programs at up to 50% off our regular rates. We will all get through this together, and we want to do our part to help those who can benefit from our expertise. — Bruce Blackwell

Bulletin: Coronavirus and the Job Market

This is the perfect storm. We are at the start of a pandemic and a recession. Nothing is the same as it was just a few weeks ago, and no one knows what the job market – or life — will be like a few weeks from now.

The good news is that the job market is not dead. Law firms and corporations are still hiring. As one source told me, “when there’s a job that needs to get done and you don’t have enough people to do it, you add to your staff, virus or not.”

We have been surveying legal and executive recruiters, hiring executives and law firm partners to get a fix on what’s happening in the job market.

One legal recruiter who specializes in in-house placements said they still have active job orders to fill, and in fact, job orders are still coming in. A partner at a Big Law firm said they have candidates in the pipeline and are intending to continue making offers. Another recruiter said some firms are telling him to “keep looking” for candidates, while other firms are telling they are putting things on a “let’s wait and see” basis.

Interviewing, of course, is now being done on-line. One source said he was told that final hiring decisions wouldn’t be made until a face-to-face interview, which may just be a way for a company to hedge its bets and lock up a candidate without having to actually start paying them.

The possibility of layoffs was raised by some of the people I spoke with, but at the law firms and among senior corporate executives, the sense was that layoffs would more likely to effect the lower echelon workers, not the more senior ones. Another person said his firm does not like to lay people off, but instead would consider salary cuts if necessary.

Our general feeling is that it makes sense to continue on a job search – or to launch one – at least for now. Firms and companies are hiring.

If the Coronavirus spikes and makes it even more important that we all “shelter at home,” it would almost certainly bring the hiring market to a standstill, and there’d be no point in doing an aggressive search.

However, this perfect storm will not last forever. Severe or not, if the virus abates within a relatively short time, I predict there will be a pent-up demand for talent and great deal of new hiring going on. If the virus doesn’t let up after a few months, it could be a very different story.

We will continue our research into the hiring climate, and hope to be able to prepare a decent “think piece” on this unprecedented situation. Right now, there’s not enough time, but I will get to it. In the meantime, we will continue talking with hiring managers and keeping you advised of our findings. I would certainly welcome any input from our readers out there, especially those who do hiring. Everyone stay well. This too shall pass. — Blackwell.

Now I Really Know How You Feel. I was Happier Not Knowing

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has hit as close to home as can be. Because of the pandemic, my wife, Gwyneth, may no longer be able to practice her profession. In fact, her entire profession may be going down the tubes. At least for now.

Like many of my clients, Gwyn has to explore her career options. Unlike many of my clients, this is an involuntary exploration; most clients come to me voluntarily because they want jobs they actually enjoy.

Gwyn loves her job. She has a Masters Degree in Gerontology and 22 years experience in the field. She does geriatric care management, assisted living placement and nursing home marketing. She helps seniors and their families explore their residence options when they can no longer live on their own.

She meets with seniors and family members in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and private homes to assess their situations. She can no longer do this. She can’t see people in hospitals because the hospitals are generally not letting outside professionals into their facilities for fear of contagion. The nursing homes are wary of admitting new patients for the same reason. The assisted living facilities are in the same boat. Even home care agencies are impacted, because a homecare worker may be a carrier or go into the home of someone who is infected.

The senior care industry is in a true mess – I don’t know how else to describe it. This will eventually change when the virus runs its course, but who knows how long that will be? There are many healthcare marketing and admissions professionals who are going to be unable to practice their trade and will need to find new careers.

My wife, like my clients, is very smart and very accomplished within her field. But she doesn’t know about the transferability of her skills. Like many of my clients, she is wondering about what else she can do with 20+ years of experience, what else is out there for her, how can she maintain her income and so on. She is wondering if her training, her graduate degree and two decades of experience will all be wasted. She is asking the same questions of herself that my clients ask of themselves. It is a scary, uncertain time for her.

My expertise is career change; I can help my lawyer clients, but I can’t really help my wife. I know diddly squat about the transferable skills of her profession. When it comes to the transferability of the skills used by lawyers and executives with 20+years of experience, I have substantial knowledge and can help them find new career paths. I am a subject matter expert. But that very specific knowledge is not going to help my wife.

I always understood, from an intellectual standpoint, why the thought of a career change can be so intimidating. I intellectually understood why so many lawyers fear change, because they know they are competent and know what they are doing in their profession, but don’t know what’s involved in something new. I intellectually understood why they were so uncomfortable not knowing what else is out there for them that leverages their skills but applies them in new ways, and still generates a good income. I understood all of this intellectually.

Now I am living it. I liked it better before.

— Bruce Blackwell

This is Why I Still Do This Work and not Go Sailing Instead

This is one of the most amazing days I have had at Career Strategies. Two of my clients accepted offers this morning before I finished my coffee; one of my relocation clients received two offers within the last few days; another overseas client has two interviews coming up for jobs in the U.S. this week, including one set up this very day. I haven’t even had lunch yet.

This day reminds me of another day, when Crain’s New York Business had three of my clients listed in their weekly People in New Jobs page. Almost the whole column was about Career Strategies clients.

I had been thinking about the possibility of taking early retirement, but knowing that I used my skills, insights and  experience to help these people find new and better careers, and to get them excited about their jobs again, is keeping me excited. Besides, I don’t like golf all that much and there’s ice on the lake so I can’t go sailing. It’s more fun to help people find jobs they love.


Does Your Resume Pass the “Two Sneeze” Test?

Academic research has shown recruiters read resumes in a systematic pattern, taking 6.25 seconds to make a yes/no decision; yet, 75% of the time, resumes don’t make it through an ATS to the recruiter’s desk at all!

That’s sobering new information from Career Thought Leaders, a research  and advisory council that provides certifications and Best Practices guidance for career professionals.

If your current resume isn’t grabbing a recruiter in 6.25 seconds – if your special contributory value can’t be clearly shown in about the time it takes to sneeze twice — then your resume is bad. Plain and simple.

Use the stopwatch on your cell phone and see how much of your resume you can read in 6.25 seconds. Not much, right?

Further, if your resume isn’t even making it to the recruiters’ desks because it is screened out by the computerized ATS, or Applicant Tracking System, that all recruiters use, you have a poor resume, one that is hurting your job search.

We can turn a poor resume into a powerful one. For a free consultation about your resume, call us at 914-940-4300 or click here to make a 30-minute telephone appointment:

To learn more about how we can help you find a new and better job through our dynamic resume and job search services, click here:

This is a 30-minute call that can change your life.

5 Essential Job Interview Tips

By the time a company or law firm decides who they want to interview, it is reasonable to assume that all of the candidates have the skills and experience to do the job. One candidate will win the position, and all the others will lose. Here are some interview tips that can help you avoid coming in second.

  1. Know your brand strategy – What 3 to 5 key sales points do you have that would show your value, and why you have a unique blend of skills that would make you a better candidate than your competitors. Make this solid skills, not general fluff – “I am good at writing and research” is general fluff that your competitors can say. What are your 3 to 5 best points?
  2. Put a positive spin on why you are seeking a new job – Cite nothing negative (long hours, hate billing clients, don’t like rainmaking, etc.) Look for other reasons why you are on the market … but make sure they relate to things that would benefit the employer, not just you. A statement like “I want to be able to help a company grow by applying a wider range of my experience than I can at the firm” is much better than saying, “I hate billable hours.” What are your key reasons for wanting a change and how can your next employer benefit from your service?
  3. Be prepared for the hard questions that you don’t want them to ask — Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes — what concerns would they have about your candidacy? Too young and inexperienced? Too old and over-qualified? No experience in the employer’s industry. No experience in the job function? Not great academics? Too many job shifts? Try to determine the concerns will they have about you, and then create your defenses. Turn those potential lemons into lemonade!
  4. Support your claims with PAR stories – Every lawyer makes the same claims about being good at writing and research, doing “out of the box thinking,” being a creative problem solver and issue-spotter. But few people back up their claims with evidence. Prepare a series of Problem-Action-Result anecdotes, each about a minute long (no more than that!) to illustrate and support your claims. Be prepared with an array of them, in different skill areas.
  5. Know the mission of the job and the immediate priorities – Ask the interviewer about the first challenges the newly hired candidates will need to address. Cite from your PAR stories how you have dealt with that type of challenge – or one similar – in the past. Look for relevant examples and make the connections for them. “Well, I’ve negotiated hundreds of contracts before, and am very good at getting favorable terms when I negotiate. While I’ve not done that specific type of contract before, I understand business objectives and how to make deals that work out profitably for my clients. I can do the same for you, too.

By being prepared with success stories to support your claims, by focusing on the employer’s needs and not your “wants,” and by knowing why you are a better candidate than your competitors, you can come out the winner and not the second-place finisher in the interview process.

If you have an important interview coming up, or want to sharpen your interview skills, let’s talk. Just click here to schedule a free call:

#jobinterviews, #interviewskills, #jobs, #careercoach

Happy 27th Birthday to Career Strategies!

Twenty-seven years ago today, I woke up, put on a suit and tie, grabbed a cup of coffee, kissed my wife on the cheek, drove to work, and opened the doors at Career Strategies for the first time ever. It was a Monday. My first advertisement had appeared in the Sunday newspaper. The headlines was: “Shorten Your Job Search.” Will the phone ring or not? Will this new business make it? Everything I owned was on the line. It was all or nothing.

Well, the phone did ring. It rang twice that day. One fellow, Michael P., made an appointment. He was a Dallas Cowboys fan, but other than that, was a great guy. He became my first client. The phone has been ringing ever since. To the more than 2,000 people who have turned to me for career advice, better resumes and support during an often difficult time, Thank You!  To the good people who have been part of my professional team over the years, Thank You. Here’s to more great years for us all.