Monday, October 24, 2011

job searching

Recently, I've started the job-search process in earnest.  By recently, I suppose I mean this morning, although I have been half-heartedly searching for about the last month. 

Finding a job is possibly one of the most horrible experiences to which we subject ourselves.  You send your resume out in to the void, and wait endlessly for some kind of response.  Most online postings have some sort of disclaimer to the effect that, due to volume of responses, they only actually answer people that they intend to interview.  So you have no idea whether you are still in the running but they haven't called yet, whether they found someone else, or whether they were even considering you in the first place.  Or really, whether they even read your resume.  So, worse than rejection, you hear nothing, nothing, nothing.  Then, if you're lucky, rejection.

Recruiters, career coaches, and the like, will tell you that "using your network" is a better way to get a job than sending your resume out over the internet.  But what if you are a third-year associate, and your "network" consists of your partner?  Kathy has sent my resume to a few of her colleagues at other firms, to see if they are interested, but they all contain awkward language describing who I am to her.  You can't say "partner" in the legal field, or it implies that I have 10+ years of experience, and work with Kathy.  We aren't married, so we can't use "wife" or "spouse."  So we are left with "life partner."  For some reason, when saying "life partner" out loud, I get stuck on the word "life" and the L draws out.  Lllllllllllllife partner.  It's like I can't decide if I'm calling her my Lllllllllife partner, or if, instead, I'm going to call her my Llllllesbian Llllllllover.

At any rate, the few resumes that Kathy has sent out have also disappeared into the void.  (As in, a month of waiting, followed by, if I'm lucky, rejection, or if I'm not lucky, nothing.) 

If you ask, a lot of firms will tell you that they allow/encourage part time.  This, as far as I can tell, is a big fat lie.  They want people to call at 8pm on Sunday night to do research by 8 am Sunday morning.  Odds are, if you're asking for part time work, you will not be very excited about doing that.  Whether applying for an in-house position or a law firm position, part time seems to be considered a perk.  But why wouldn't it make sense, in the days of uncertain work streams, to hire a good associate part time, to get paid on an hourly basis?  Then you only pay when they are working, you don't have to provide benefits, and you have a natural person on the chopping block if times get even rougher.  On the other hand, if you get really busy, you can always ask the person to step up to full time, or hire a second part time person to job share.  Not to mention the fact that I think a lot of legal talent is wasted by the unwillingness of firms or other employers to really consider part time options.  Especially, frankly, female talent.  Like it or not, family pressures weigh heavier on women lawyers.  If part time employment were more readily available, they could continue to develop as attorneys and contribute their brain-power to the legal world, while also meeting their family's needs.  (Of course, the issue of why it is women that have weightier family responsibilities is a topic for a whole different post.)  Although, I suppose, hiring a person part time doesn't make any more sense than hiring a person full time, if you can't keep your current employees busy.

At any rate, part time not really being an option, I am trying to get my head around full-time in-house work or full-time associateship.

On the off chance I make it to the next round, what do I have to look forward to?  Interviewing.  Putting on a suit (which is, I'm sure, too tight on me, after not having to force myself into it for six months), smiling, and explaining why I would be perfect for a particular job that I am not even sure is the right fit for me.  If I answer that question well enough, maybe I will get to navigate the minefield of explaining why I left my old firm in a way that doesn't involve saying anything negative about it but also does not make me come off sounding entitled, lazy, or both.

Needless to say, I'm not all that amped up about the process ahead of me.  I had hoped, after going through on-campus interviewing, that I would not have to do this for a long time.  But I changed, the world changed, and my world changed.  I no longer want to work at the place I chose as a second year law student in California.  So here I am, combing through websites and online job postings, sending resumes out into the void, and ghost-writing emails containing the word "life partner" for Kathy to send to people for me.

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