There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, and attorneys are facing an immense amount of ambiguity about the job market. Whether you’re looking for a new position now or anticipate job-hunting in the near future, you may be wondering what your search will look like amidst such a rapidly changing landscape. While there is no crystal ball that can provide all the answers, one thing you can count on is this: if you find yourself on a job interview in the next year, your prospective employer is likely to ask,
“What did you do during the pandemic?”
If a clear answer doesn’t immediately spring to mind, you’re not alone. With most of the country subject to shelter-in-place orders and a high degree of uncertainty in all areas of life, it may be challenging to come up with a cohesive, action-oriented response to that question. While employers should readily understand if there’s a gap in your resume coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, what you did during that gap matters tremendously. For job seekers—especially those who find themselves involuntarily on the job market—telling the story of how they spent their time between positions will be crucial. In fact, thinking about your answer now may contain just the opportunity you need to regain a sense of control over your career while offering a window into your unique qualities.
Normally, as a job-seeking attorney, you would be scouring job listings and contacting colleagues for coffee dates, but these are not normal times. Social distancing requirements may prevent you from pounding the pavement, and those with caretaking and home-schooling responsibilities may find free time to be in limited supply. Nevertheless, while current circumstances are unusual, all the things that mattered before still matter now—you just have to find a different way to do them.
As lawyers, we leverage our leadership and expertise to serve our clients in times of chaos and distress. It’s time to tap into those same strengths to invest in your own development. By strategically engaging in high-value activities, you can begin to exert some control in a chaotic world, enhance your qualifications for the jobs you are seeking, and nourish yourself as a person and a professional. Developing and demonstrating your leadership skills is not only achievable while sheltering in place, it is perhaps more important than ever—both for your own sense of autonomy and in displaying your value to employers.