Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Transitioning to a Non-Legal Career

Here's a short article about trying to pursue a non-legal career. Unfortunately, it isn't very detailed, but it does encourage the job seeker to adjust his strategy.

Usually, we hope that all of our accomplishments alert an employer to our general capabilities and compatibility with a position. Unfortunately, if the way we present those accomplishments makes us look qualified for a career in a different field (e.g. law), we have a problem.

If that's the case, we have to find a way to highlight what in our background makes us a good fit for the position to which we're applying. For example, if you clerked for a judge, you should emphasize your writing and research roles rather than the area of the law in which you gained experience.

Essentially, our resumes need to be a sales pitch as to why the employer should hire us. It should not simply be an autobiography that lets us bask in our own achievements. We always need to be sure to spin our experience to fit the position for which we're applying.

In other words, I think the article is telling us to lie...(j/k - I think).


  1. Just got a job offer outside the law. $45K. The don't think I'm overqualified. They think I'm desperate.

  2. I am the author of the article on repackaging for a career transition. It does not suggest lying. It recommends selecting and organizing the facts of a professional life in a way to land a job. That I see as smart. Smart isn't lying. It could be but not necessarily.

  3. I, too, have left law firm life and you should never lie.

    Personally, I think that resumes are more of a hindrance than anything else as they give potential employers reasons NOT to hire you. You want to get your foot in the door and meet someone first and become friendly, if possible. Don't think of it as a one-time thing but as establishing long-term relationships. At that point, people start to think of you as a person and not a resume. That way they can make an emotional and professional investment in you. Some people are jerks, but others are not.

    Having different resumes is something that I've done and advise others to do, but it is the last way you should want to introduce yourself to someone, especially if you're TTT.

  4. It is always best to know someone in the company. Kind of like how it is best to be born independently wealthy - but then, you wouldn't necessarily need a job to begin with.

    In all seriousness, it is incredibly tough out there. We are seeing dozens - and sometimes hundreds - of qualified people apply for one position. This is across all job sectors. Of course, the current Puppet/Idiot-in-chief - along with the "economic forecasters" and Ivy League-educated "economists" - will get on TV and tell us that "Things are turning around."

    Yeah, and Salma Hayek keeps calling my cell phone, begging me to run off with her. (I'll get back to her, after I return Halle Berry's messages.)

  5. Nando, I admire your site as advising potential students to really understand the return on investment in a law school education should be a cause celebre. Despite the difficulties, one shouldn't be put off without an "in" in the company.

    Esqnever has allowed me to write an extended post on networking for the blog, so I'll save my comments until then. In short: it can be very effective - even in terrible markets - but most of what you read about this online and from TTT "career" services groups is useless garbage.

    You kind of have to think about this issue before you start looking for a job. A person who wants a career in any field has to have a mind about whom he meets and what they do. Alternatively put, it is about a person learning to think like a salesperson. I readily say that it takes time for the seeds planted to grow and it takes a great deal of effort. You may know more people that you realize - at church, at the gym, if you're in a book club - seriously.

    The major advantage of this mindset is that resumes, the alternative, are probably the least effective way to get a job in the market. I just got into this because I think that resumes, while necessary, are almost useless for long term career work.

  6. The problem with "thinking like a salesperson" is that I've set my entire life and my entire education towards finding jobs where I don't HAVE to think like a salesperson.

    I can only speak for myself here: My father is a salesperson. In fact he's an excellent salesperson. Has a successful business (albeit one having a bad year due to the recession). I've been exposed to this my entire life - and the one thing I've known, for absolute sure, is that I would rather do anything - ANYTHING - other than what he does for a living. It's not in me. I'm so introverted I'd probably make introverts look like the life of the party. Except that I don't even go to the party - I hate parties. I dread going to them, I dread being at them, and the best part of one is leaving.

    I'm no psychologist, so I don't know if my situation is actually pretty close to normal for a lot of people, or what. But honestly, even if I had money and time, I wouldn't be socialising. Now, add the awkwardness of asking for a job in? Probably the most useful advice you'd have for someone like me is where to get cheap and effective narcotics, because "network" ranks up there with "do-it-yourself surgery" and "dancing in a lion pit while wearing steaks" (and I'm being absolutely literal - I'd rather do the lion dance).

  7. It's not lying - it's called connecting the dots for an employer. That's a basic component of an effective interview.

  8. Clearly my jokes haven't been landing well recently. Looks like my plan B of comedian is going to end up next to my former attorney ambitions.

  9. I hate to break it to 1:00 but "thinking like a salesperson" is practically the essence of making it in life. No one's going to hand you a job on a silver platter. Despite working in a field known for extroversion, I'm more like Janet Jackson (loud & exciting on stage or when working but quiet & solitary in real life). Plus, how will anyone know you need help if you don't ask them?

    Maybe you should think more like a hustler. To hustle, you have to play the game. The point of the game is to do whatever it is you're trying to do (get a job, get an investor, whatever). A hustler's goal is to get the task done: they don't care about social perceptions & they don't make it seem like they NEED the person in question. Hustlers also have the primary goal of survival; no matter what comes along, they're going to get things done.

    Or maybe you should do stuff online like a LinkedIn profile & reach out that way.

    Could you tell me what types of jobs DON'T require thinking like a salesperson? That & jobs where you DON'T have to deal w/the public? All the ones I can think of are horrible.


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