The Covid-19 pandemic, and its social and economic effects, will last longer than we all initially imagined (two weeks — ha, we were so foolish) and now the anxiety is really kicking in.  There is no shortage of worries to fixate on right now, and a big one we keep hearing is how will I ever find a new job in this market?

We have never lived through a pandemic before, but we have been in the workforce (as attorneys and recruiters) during two previous recessions – the dotcom bubble bursting and the Great Recession of 2008.  We could also include the Enron crisis as another difficult time in the job market.  We are happy to report that the market rebounded after each of those events, and that attorneys found new jobs and saw their careers advance and grow.

So, how will you find a new job?  Will you have to adjust your job search techniques?

Your network has always been a great resource to tap for your job search.  It is now more important than ever because:

  1. More competition for each position – There will be more people applying for every job, so the competition will be tight.  Any opportunity to get your resume noticed above others will be key.  Personal recommendations and/or referrals could make all the difference.
  2. Risk – Every hire is an economic and cultural fit risk.  With companies being particularly worried about the bottom line and about morale, they will want to minimize these risks.  A personal referral often feels like a “safer” hire.

Take a minute to think about your network as a whole – this should be a large group.  It includes current and former colleagues, law school classmates and professors, recruiters, family and friends.  Given that we are all essentially stuck at home these days, what should effective networking look like?

  1. Extend your networking reach. Interestingly, while we have a tendency to avoid reconnecting with those we have fallen out of touch with and those we only tangentially know (an acquaintance or someone you have met only once), these members of our “outer network” can be the most helpful. Talking to people who do what you do and know who you know is not particularly useful if you are looking to expand your horizons! Try to reach out to someone you have lost touch with, or a friend of a friend (or a parent of one of your kids). Expand your circle.
  2. Make meaningful connections virtually. There are no happy hours and no coffee shop meetups, so what is a networker to do? There is no need to schedule a call or have a video chat with every person you reach out to. Honestly, we are all getting fatigued from these.  Sending a short email, posting on LinkedIn (either something you write yourself or an article you find interesting/helpful), or even sending a quick text or a funny meme are great simple ways to connect.
  3. Social media is both friend and foe. Think of your online presence as your first impression/first interview.  Keep in mind that people in your expanded network will likely turn to LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to look you up when you reach out to them. Make sure your profiles are up to date and appropriate and that your privacy settings are such that you feel comfortable with what pops up when someone searches for you.

There’s a lot we can’t do right now.  We can’t go to school and most of us can’t go to work. We can’t see our friends and family and hug them tightly. However, staying connected, reconnecting and establishing new connections are all things that we can easily and safely do from the comfort of home.  Use this time to build and strengthen your network.

Contact Denise Schwartz or Eynav Epstein at EpsteinSchwartz Legal Search to learn more, to discuss the legal market or to hear about current opportunities.

EpsteinSchwartz Legal Search is a Chicago-based boutique legal recruiting firm. EpsteinSchwartz does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristic. All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential.