Job-hunting is a lot like dating—no one likes a needy or desperate job-seeker/date. A desperate individual might elicit sympathy—but they will not convey or inspire confidence. Just as you wouldn’t want to go on a second date with someone who conveys “please, somebody, anybody,” an employer or interviewer doesn’t want to call back someone who conveys “please, some job, any job.”
That is because we are attracted to people who are confident.
Despite the prevailing reputation of overzealous and overconfident lawyers, the legal community is a group of very sensitive people with a strong competitive drive and need for achievement. An attorney on the market for a job takes a huge hit in their confidence, which makes not coming across as desperate a challenge.
That’s okay—so long as you are prepared and have the right recruiter working with you, all of the mechanics will be set up and prepared. But you have to make sure you are in the right space because the only fuel you’ve got to power your job search is your energy and personal will to move forward. It is important that you overcome sense of self-doubt. Here are a few tips for you to focus on yourself to pick yourself back up:
It is easy to keep critical and negative thoughts swimming about in your head. Grab some paper and write down your superhero stories (about your positive and valuable contributions). If you are finding this challenging, start small—think about your positive interactions with people from restaurant staff to your friends—and then go bigger to your work projects.
Take some time to be with people who lift you up, and enforce boundaries to limit time with people who bring you down. Remember that there is an entire world outside of your practice. Take time to do things that make you feel good again whether that’s taking up a new hobby, or simply indulging in some self care.
Take a moment to reflect on your environment and consider whether it reflects the best of you. De-clutter and tidy up your living space (as a bonus, you get an immediate sense of satisfaction), and then take time to evaluate your professional space. This gives you a sense of awareness of your surroundings at a job interview so that you won’t be distracted, and can focus on your hiring manager. Take field trips and visit the spaces and organizations that you are targeting to feel comfortable.
Do you have a tendency to come off as a braggart or to just always sound like you are begging during interviews (remember there are ways to ask for a job without asking for a job)? Neither one is better than the other—but both are caused by the same thing: stress. If you find that stress is building and making you nervous, remember that you can do something about it. Before your interview, take flight of stairs to work off that nervous energy (perhaps go for a run that morning and don’t overload on caffeine). Practice your answers to common interview questions and do research on your target employer.
Once you are at the interview, pay attention to the interviewer. Remember that it is important to be a good listener, so listen to their question, and don’t interrupt! Listen to them, take a breath, and wait for the opportunity to tell one cohesive story. Resolving these subtle errors can not only help you get rid of that scent of desperation, but it can also help you develop a solid sense of confidence so that you can shine when you walk into the room.