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After the Bar

Career Resources

Finding Your Dream Job in a Down Market

Angie Rentz and Andrea Brooke Mohr


  • Approach your job search like a job, allocate time, set application and interview goals, and maintain patience and positivity amid unprecedented circumstances. With adaptability, focus, and effort, your desired job can be achieved despite challenges.
  • Seek opportunities beyond traditional roles, like in-house positions or growth industries.
  • Effective networking involves discussing others' success and transitioning to your goals. Temporary legal work, common during recessions, prevents resume gaps and can lead to permanent roles. 
Finding Your Dream Job in a Down Market
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Tackling a job search is never easy. It takes a lot of time and energy to research opportunities, update your resume, draft cover letters, and complete the interview process. Finding the extra time, on top of existing personal and professional commitments, can be daunting—even in a strong economy.

COVID-19, and the societal, personal, and professional changes that have spurred from it, have certainly not made this task any easier. Understandably, this already-daunting task may now feel impossible. We are here to tell you that it is not—you just need to make a few changes in your approach.

Focus on the Right Employers

There are job opportunities for lawyers in the current market, and it is vital to know where to look. If you are seeking a law firm position, be open to pivoting. For example, if you are a corporate lawyer with strong transactional skills, consider positions with healthcare, restructuring, or technology groups that may have a greater need than traditional corporate practices.

It may be an excellent time to focus on in-house positions. Many companies are seeking to limit money spent on outside counsel and are expanding their internal legal teams. Companies experiencing growth are also likely to be adding new positions—target growing industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, home entertainment, home delivery services, and mortgage.

Leverage LinkedIn

If you want to hear from recruiters, update and polish your LinkedIn profile. Be sure to include a professional headshot—first impressions are essential. Include in your profile your complete employment experience since law school, including employer, title, practice group, job responsibilities, and location. If you are interested in jobs in your hometown, include your high school in the education section.

Remote work is more plentiful in the current economy, and this trend may be here to stay. If you have remote work experience, highlight it by using phrases like “managed a remote team” or “regularly conduct meetings via Zoom.”

LinkedIn offers an option to flag yourself as “Open to New Opportunities.” Your current colleagues cannot see this designation, but it signals recruiters that you are receptive to hearing about job opportunities, making them more likely to reach out.


When it comes to networking, identifying who you want to connect with is the easy part. However, getting someone to respond and commit time to speak with you is the challenge. When reaching out to networking targets, ask about their success. Let them know you are impressed with their career trajectory and would love to hear how they landed their current position. Once you have learned more about their career, the transition to your career goals may be easier to navigate.

Consider “Temp”

Unemployed during your job search? Temporary work can be a great option. Many firms and companies hire attorneys temporarily to help with specific projects like reviewing contracts, assisting with due diligence on M&A transactions, or getting an important case prepped for trial. Temporary work is even more common during a recession because it allows employers to get needed help without commitment.

Temporary projects are often remote and can last several months or years. They can be full or part-time, affording flexibility for attorneys who may now be balancing work with increased personal responsibilities.

Temporary work also allows you to avoid a resume gap while gaining additional experience and expanding your professional network. If you can make a positive impression, temporary assignments may turn into permanent positions.

Set Yourself Up for Success

The best way to land your next position is to treat your job search like a job. Assess how much time you can devote to your search and block off the time on your calendar. Set daily and weekly goals for the number of applications you will submit and the number of interviews you will schedule. Hold yourself accountable for your job search the same way you would your actual job.

Most importantly, be patient with yourself and the process. These are unprecedented times! But if you stay focused, open-minded, and positive, you will find your next job—and it may be the dream job you have been waiting for.