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: https://live.vcita.com/site/bruce.blackwell/online-scheduling?service=d6dc6699

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: https://www.careerstrategiesgroup.com/

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: https://live.vcita.com/site/bruce.blackwell/online-scheduling?service=d6dc6699

#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.

Marketing Yourself to Build an In-House Legal Career


I recently had the honor of serving as a speaker at a New York City Bar Association panel on how in-house counsel can develop their careers.

What does it take to build a successful career as an in-house counsel? Growing as an in-house attorney involves two pathways: moving up within your current company or moving out to move up somewhere else. Either process involves Marketing, something most lawyers find anathematic. Self-Marketing, however, is essential for a successful career as an in-house counsel.

Here are a few tips from the seminar on Self-Marketing For Lawyers Made Easy.

1) Make friends with the business people in your company.  Don’t just focus on your boss or the GC – build allies on the business side of your company. If there are ever cutbacks, the executives will cut the lawyers they don’t like before the lawyers they do like. And if there’s growth and a need to create a new spot for a divisional GC, the execs will push for the lawyer they like to take on that role. To be the chosen one, break down the wall that often exists between the legal department and the business team.

2) Learn about your company’s business. How do they provide their product or service? What is the competitive set? What are the business issues facing your company and your industry? Where are the opportunities? The challenges? You should do lunches or have coffee with the Department Heads. Tell them you’d like to learn about what they do, and what they must deal with every day. Show them you care!

3) Get visible in your current or targeted industry. Often to move up, an in-house lawyer needs to move to another company. This process can be facilitated by getting on the radar screens of organizations in which you may be interested. How? Join a LinkedIn group of professionals in an industry of interest. Contribute articles and comments. Join a professional association in your targeted industry, and be active in it. Let the business people in that industry get to know you and to see your value. The job offers will come!

4) Say “But Yes,” not ‘Yes, But.”  Corporate executives don’t like lawyers because you often say say “No” to things they want to do but cannot do legally. “Sir, that’s a great idea, YES — BUT it violates regulation xyz….” We don’t want to hear that. What we want to hear is, “There are problems with regulation xyz, BUT YES, I think I can come up with a way around that problem.”  Can Do beats No Can Do every time.

5) Learn to become a business partner. That means picking an area outside of a legal issue that you can learn about. Why? So you can contribute ideas on how to make the company better. Take a course in marketing and learn about how your company can make better use of digital media. Get smarter on information technology so you suggest ways in which new software can be used to improve your company’s business processes. Don’t think your only value to the company is to deal with legal issues. You have a brain. Use it to help your business solve problems and seize opportunities.

Lastly, as a long-time observer of the legal career scene, I have seen that many lawyers think the way to build an in-house career is to schmooze with other lawyers. They get active in Bar Association committees in hopes that the attorneys they meet there will let them know about job opportunities. OK, not a bad idea. Being on Bar committees can be great for professional development, and because it makes a Bar Association stronger and more valuable to its members. It is a worthy and noble use of your time.

However … how many people on a Bar Committee can actually HIRE you? If you want to be a GC, the answer is ZERO. If you want to be a Deputy GC, there’d have to be a lot of GC’s on that committee for you to have a shot at getting hired by one of them. Mostly, the lawyers you’d be working with on Bar Committees are your COMPETITORS. If they are law firm attorneys, they probably want to go in-house. If they are in-house and want to move up, they’ll be gunning for the same jobs you are.

To be successful in building an in-house career, focus on the folks who can hire you!

If you are looking to move in-house, or are in-house and looking for a better opportunity, call me. We have more than 25 years of experience in career management for lawyers, and unrivalled expertise in the development of successful in-house legal careers.

How to Get an In-House Job is Topic of NYC Bar Seminar

Transitioning from a law from job to an in-house legal position is a difficult challenge. The vast majority of the thousands of law firm attorneys I have counseled wanted to move to in-house roles. Only two — repeat, two — of my clients have wanted to move from in-house positions to law firms.

Effective Marketing for an In-House Career is the topic of a seminar being sponsored by the New York City Bar on Thursday, March 14 from 6:30 -8 p.m. p.m. at the City Bar building. I am honored to have been invited to be one of the 3 expert panelists for the event, which is open to all attorneys, whether City Bar members or not. Joining me on the dais are Anthony Bosco of Stone Turn and Adele Lemlek of Greiner Consulting.  

Winning an in-house job takes knowledge, creativity and effective personal marketing. These topics will be covered in the 90-minute seminar. Since many attorneys are uncomfortable networking, promoting and marketing themselves, we will be giving some techniques on how to contain (if not overcome) those fears.

We will also be covering how to build an upwardly mobile in-house career. To be successful, in-house lawyers need to market themselves both within and outside their companies. Building “brand recognition” is just as important in moving up the in-house ladder as it is in snaring that first in-house job.

How to approach the internal marketing process, who to target, how to make connections internally and externally, and how to be perceived by the executives as a business partner will also be discussed.

The panel will be moderated by Maxwell Silver-Thompson of Murphy & McGonigle, and is being sponsored by the City Bar’s In-House Counsel Committee, co-chaired by Daniel Wiig and Jack Lermer, and by the Career Advancement Committee chaired by Laura Torchio. The event fee is $10 for NYC Bar members and $25 for non-members. 

For those who are seeking to transition to an in-house job, or to move up the legal ranks, this will be an important, possibly career-changing event. 

New: Have Questions about your Job Search or Career Options? Ask us! Free 30-min. Consultation

If you have questions about your job search methods, your resume, or your career options, you can get them answered. For free. For a limited time only, we are offering a no-charge, no strings, 30-minute consultation with one of our legal and executive career experts.

We will handle any topic or type of question relating to professional development, job search, career growth or career change. The only catch is that you must be a lawyer, executive or professional and there is a limit of one 30-minute session per person. To schedule, call our 24/7 line at 866-898-4228 or use the scheduling link below.

If you are having problems in your job search, are thinking about making a move, or aren’t sure what’s out there for you, schedule a free consultation with us today! You will be glad you did. 

Here are some of the typical concerns that we can help with:

Q: How does my resume compare against others in my profession?

Q: Are there better ways of finding jobs than applying on Indeed and LinkedIn?  I’m not getting


Q: What kind of non-legal jobs are out there for me? What do other lawyers do?

Q: I have been doing this work for a long time. Am I qualified to do something else?

Q: I want to change careers but can’t go back to an entry level job. Is there any hope?

Q: I am 58 years old. Who is going to want to hire me?

Q: I am getting interviews, but then I never hear back. What am I doing wrong?

Q: I don’t have a network that I can use. Are there other things I can do to find leads?

Career Strategies Group has been guiding legal and executive careers since 1992 and has helped thousands of professionals find new jobs or new careers. We are A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau, and our founder is a charter member of the career transition panel of the New York City Bar Association.

What Factors Tell You It’s Time for a Career Change?

What Factors Tell You It’s Time for a Career Change?

Feel stuck in your current job? Bored? Under-challenged? Dread Mondays? Think you are not doing what you meant to do with your career? If this sounds a bit like you, you can do something about it. If your professional life is bordering on the miserable, then it is time to start exploring your career options … After all, you have only one life, and you are in control of it. Or not. That’s your choice.

We have compiled five factors which will indicate whether or not you should seriously consider a change in your job or career track.

Too much roteness in your work.

We nearly all face occasional boredom at work – but that feeling should be temporary. If you are bored more than a few days a week, if you find the work to often is challenging yet somehow tedious and mundane, you need to think about making a change. If you are bored now, it doesn’t get better over time! The more you master your craft, the more you are put in a silo, the more boring it becomes. This depletes your creativity and energy so that when you finally do get home, you feel exhausted and struggle every morning to get out of bed to get ready to go to office. Success Story: One of our clients went from being a litigator to being the Chief of Staff for an international firm. “I love it,” he told us. “No two days are ever the same.”

Work is challenging but unfulfilling.

You may be good at your job … maybe even gifted … but at the end of each day you don’t feel connected to the outcomes you have produced. Your work is lacking meaningfulness. Deep inside, you know that you are not living a life of purpose, and you job is not really reflecting who you are or what you want from life. Your family and friends may think you have it made … but you don’t! When you feel your work isn’t accomplishing things you feel are worthwhile, it’s a sign you should start exploring making a change. Success Story: One of our clients went from being a partner in a law firm to becoming the Executive Director of a non-profit agency dedicated to a cause about which he feels deeply.

You catch yourself wishing you had a different job.

If you find yourself envying the jobs that other people have, or if you sometimes browse through Indeeed.com just to see what else is “out there,” then you seriously need to start thinking about what interests you. You often feel jealous when you come across an article or mention of a person in a different kind of job, wishing the article should have been about you. Success Story: We had a client who really loved computers and technology. She transitioned from being an intellectual property attorney to doing computer programming and system development.

You work only for money but aren’t having any fun.

Let’s face it. Money is important. But so, too, is quality of life, working with people in a collegial atmosphere, being engaged by your work, feeling good about what you are doing, and pretty much being happy most days about your career. Unfortunately, many lawyers mistakenly believe that they can’t make as much money doing something else, so they endure their days just to get that big paycheck. But the reality is our clients nearly always transition into jobs paying more money than they were making as lawyers. Success Story: Our client, an unhappy, unappreciated associate at an international law firm, increased her already good salary by $40,000 when she transitioned into a new role in professional development.

Your self-esteem is dwindling.

Self-esteem is something that propels us forward, personally and professionally. If you don’t believe in yourself, it is hard to get others to believe in you. Clients. Bosses. Girlfriends.  Spouses. Potential employers. Law is not a “nice” profession: Bosses second-guess you or give good assignments to others. Clients complain behind your back. Partners look at you sideways when your billings are down. You lose one lousy case and it wipes out all of your past victories. I have had many lawyer clients whose self-confidence was in the toilet. If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere regarding making decisions at the work, are second-guessing yourself, worried about how you are being seen by your colleagues, and are negative about any growth possibilities, then it’s time to move on to something new that will rekindle your inner strength and restore your self-confidence. Success Story: We had a client who was in the self-esteem basement after having been beaten up by her partners when a case went bad. She was held to blame even though she had told them at the very beginning the case was doomed and they shouldn’t take it. She is now with a new law firm, in a brand new practice area, and is excited about applying her past skills in this new direction. She’s back!

How we help.

We take a crawl-walk-run approach at Career Strategies Group. Taking the first step with us does not commit you to making a career or job change; it only commits you to looking at some of the possibilities. We start by applying a structured system to help identify your realistic career options. By realistic, we mean jobs that –, based on our assessment tools — you will like, have the transferrable skills to do, can get hired to do, and can get paid what you need to be paid. We will come up with a short list and talk through the possibilities with you. We almost always identify jobs that our clients didn’t know existed, or that they knew about but didn’t think they were qualified to do.

If one of the options really strikes a chord with a client, then they can move forward and have a resume prepared. If none of the options are appealing, or if the timing isn’t right, they can elect to stay where they are. There’s no pressure.

Going for a career change is not easy … but it’s not all that hard, either, if you are willing to face your fears, roll up your sleeves, and keep moving forward. We’ve helped several thousand people just like you find career paths they enjoy and feel good about. Call today for a free initial discussion about your career and job goals. We will let you know if we can help you.