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Posts Tagged ‘resume’

Legal Rebel—Should I Yell?

Ah, law school. Today I read and listed to several blogs and podcast about law and law school. It was all negative, and probably all true—for the traditional law school–which bullet I fortunately dodged. (As I have mentioned before.) I think I have been a “legal rebel” from the git go—which seems to be more fate than logic. NOW the ABA (American Bar Association) is coming on board. see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOTtgzuGscY&feature=player_embedded

So now to my next magic trick—finding my first job on the last day of the Bar Exam.

So there I was, Day Three of the ordeal. On Day One I had had another mini-melt down but  called a fellow test taker—not Jeff– and then got over myself and went out to jog–my all-purpose magic pill for everything. I knew yesterday was over so… I got ready for the next day. (Which was, I think, all essays– including one on Evidence and Torts which I swear I nailed.)

By Day Three –the so called “Multistate” portion which is multiple choice–all that work I had done memorizing VERBATIM the Black Letter Law was paying off. (Oddly, one still sticks in my mind: “Burglary is the breaking and entering into the dwelling of another with the intent to commit a felony therein.”  Believe it or not… every word of that is key.  EVERY WORD—except maybe “is”.)

So, feeling amazingly good going in to the homestretch I decided to ask a total stranger to have lunch nearby—and off we went. The only place nearby was fairly upscale,  but we explained to the waitress we were on a tight time line and we ordered.

Soon at the table next to us sat down… 4 women. I overheard the word “deposition” and realized they were all attorneys. I jumped up (God knows how I was dressed for the bloody Bar Exam) and introduced myself. Sandy Sugarman gave me her card, and I guess we finished our food and paid and went back to finish up the test—4 more hours and then DONE. (It now occurs to me to wonder what my lunch mate thought of this…) I remember that on the last day I finished before  time was called and left early. I never saw my fateful lunch mate again.

So after the final day Jeff and I went off on a camping trip. We went up the California Coast to Hearst Castle and just hung out, both of us well aware there would be no time for such things all too soon. I forget how many days we took but it was a great break from the intense work we had done for 2 plus years.
Eventually we got came back to Pasadena and got down to the business of looking for a job—even though results from the Bar Exam were not due until November. (This would have been July 1983.(  Somehow even in the absence of Facebook—or even email—we all kept in touch and supported each other in this search. To the best of my recollection Steve Tully was the first of my buds to find a position—he was Jeff’s best friend. I think it was with Farmer’s Insurance, but I could be wrong. It’s been a few years.

At some point I think I called Grayson, Maxwell and Sugarman. (You don’t exactly have a resume at this point… but hey—maybe I did, I don’t really remember.) Long story short, I interviewed and was hired—I think I September of that year. Sandy Sugarman, Myrna Grayson and Barbara Maxwell, an associate whose name I do not recall… and me. Sandy said at some point that they “liked my chutzpah.” (For any of you who don’t know—this is usually a compliment when used by Jews–and Sandy, Myrna and I were all three Jews. Barbara was the token goy. Actually, they were all long time friends and had matching Jags.)

Every singe job I have had since that day has come from someone I knew. Every single one.

Fate?

More about this adventure soon…I had a surprise in store!

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So what’s with HR Blunders?

I know I am again preaching heresy… that Human Resources folks may not all be geniuses..  But I have dealt with them. I was a consultant they paid very well to assist them with hiring, firing and all manner of issues which companies face. There were three of us on the team– and I between us we had a HUGE amount of “in the trenches” “chops.” yet I wish I had a hundred bucks for each tome we were told “but that would never work” for what we knew were best practices. So, you see… these people (almost) all read the same books and make the same mistakes.”

If you follow the news you know how often people are badly hired… and badly fired.  Shucks–the fact that most corporations  now look only to their shareholders should tell you a lot– they don’t care about you, dear job seeker, and the family you have always supported in your military career… and they only will when you have become a “key” person. Which, as you knock on the  door, fresh out of the service, you are not.

So here are a few of the things they do: First off, as you may know, follow a pattern to slog though the excess of resumes. ANY error may get you (your resume) sh*tcaned….so you had best get the resume right. (More on that later as well.)

Second, if you send out the same cover letter to everyone you may as well go fishing… or biking or whatever you enjoy doing–because this will not impress a single soul who reads it. (Which is one reason you REALLY OUGHT to have been more patient when  your English composition teacher TRIED to teach you how to write well!)

So… the fact that HR people are probably overworked and underwhelmed by most applicants  is just ONE SMALL PART of what you need to know to stand out.

No, you probably are not an excellent writer…

Sad, but true. I have taught many students– many of them military. Most corpsmen or nurses or radiologists.  They cannot write.  They are deeply concerned about their patients: however, many are non native speakers. They may be potentially terrific employees in the civilian sector–but they have lots of competition and they need to pass the first barrier- GETTING THEIR RESUME READ! (TIP– all the advice you got for free is probably worth what you paid for it.)

Is it “negative” to say many job seekers cannot write well? Probably– but it is no more negative than a correct diagnosis of a patient–if it is accurate. So if you would prefer to skip the job-seeking  step of  knowing your strengths and weaknesses… read no further!

All experts agree, most incoming college students were not skilled writers, even a decade ago. Those seeking degrees in their profession, such as health care, or in, say, IT, do not see a need to write well. (And no one loves slogging through a course that makes them feel stupid, such as composition or–heaven forbid–“critical thinking.”) As a result, those graduating with degrees, even from traditional schools, tend to be poor writers.  (see http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/education/2009/august/What-s-Happening-to-Writing-Skills.html)

Add in the Internet age and the for profit schools.. and you can say with great certainty the “excellent communication skills” requirement in almost every job posting is wishful thinking. (More on what else  employers think that is not realistic in a future blog post.)

Again, the ability to put yourself in  the shoes of the person looking to hire you is of high importance. VERY high. But most people lack this skill. In fact, the skills that produce excellence are not taught in school. And I spent 6 years active and one full year Active Reserve– I know “excellence” is not a part of  military culture. “Close enough for government work”–this was our motto. In fact, definition #4 for “soldier” in Merriam Webster Dictionary is “one who shirks work”.

So, only a few of these military members who are fortunate enough not to be disabled due to combat conditions will be ready to access the exact job that they are a fit for–the the MUTUAL benefit of both employer and employee–and the “consumers” for health care–without some help.