by Maria Campbell
I had hoped by the time I started writing this post on finding a job, I would have already secured a permanent attorney position—that way I could write this post with more authority. But, as fate would have it, I’m still waiting to hear back from a handful of recent job interviews.
Then why should you care about what I have to say if I haven’t gotten a job offer, you ask? Well, I chose to write on this topic not because I have a proven track record of employment after every PCS, but because I want to commiserate with you and, more importantly, encourage you.
I want to show you how I have been able to continue to show face at networking events even when I have not been employed for nearly a year; how I have been able to keep an optimistic outlook (on most days) when I have no job offers yet to show for my work; and why I do not feel alone in a city where I did not know a single soul just 2 months ago.
While I am still in the thick of the job hunt, I have in place a two-step process that is getting me tangible results, and I want to share that with you.
STEP ONE – CREATE AND FOLLOW A PROCESS
First, develop a process. Playing the resume numbers game has never worked for me. I didn’t go to an elite law school and I also didn’t graduate in the top of my class, so I’ll lose in the resume game in the first round, no questions asked. At the same time, those factors also do not necessarily translate to a good attorney or good employee, and that’s ultimately what firms are looking for. Instead, I find 10-15 jobs or law firms that seem interesting, and I pursue those with relentless determination. In my online research, as long as the firm or job meets the minimum threshold of “interesting,” it makes the cut. I don’t know what I don’t know, so I try not to limit my options too much. Be both selective and curious.
The process consists of doing all of the following. You can begin in the months or weeks leading up to the PCS.
- Tap into the MSJDN Network. Search the Facebook page for any insight into the legal job market.
- Submit your resume to the civilian attorney database for attorneys.
- Send cold emails to attorneys in the area and schedule coffee dates for the first two weeks after moving. I’ve discovered that people love welcoming newcomers to their home city.
- Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up. Do this not because it’ll get you a job, but because it’s the friendly thing to do.
- Seek out volunteer opportunities. This is a great way to get to know the new city you live in.
Do each of these steps at the same time, over and over again—that’s what makes it a process, not just a check list. Without submitting a resume on a career website, and while my temporary milspouse license is still pending, I was able to secure four interviews as a direct result of 1, 2, 3 and 4.
STEP TWO – TRUST THE PROCESS
The second and more difficult step is to trust the process. We all know the general tactics of applying for jobs. Make the perfect resume. Network. Practice interviewing. I only listed a few tips above that I think are particularly helpful for a milspouse attorney. However, more important is to trust the process. It took weeks, sometimes months, to see the fruits of my job hunt efforts.
A part of trusting the process is learning to know and love your story. A year ago this week, I quit my first law firm job to follow my husband across country—a story each one of us knows all too well. I was stressed about the future of my career and have lived in an uncertainty bubble far longer than I’ve liked. But I’m learning to love and embrace my story as a milspouse attorney, and this alone has given me hope and confidence and helped me more than any of the tactical steps above.
Even if none of the job interviews work out for me, I’ll press on and continue with the process. I hope you do too.