Glass Half Full: Unemployment Can Be Good For Your Career

Unemployment can help your career ... long term.  Hold on-finish reading! I know you are all rolling your eyes thinking that I have had too much St. John’s Wort today, but I am serious.

Unemployment can help your career in the long run ONLY if you use your time effectively. Sure, if you wallow on the couch all day and send out a resume or two a week, unemployment is terrible for your career. However, if you work hard and use the time you have to build your network- I think it will pay off tenfold when you actually land a job.

Developing Your Network

You have all heard it before: “network, network, network.” That piece of advice is nothing new. But I say: “develop your network.” When I say, “develop,” I mean go out and foster longstanding friendships and mentorships. Get a group of attorneys to be your cheerleaders in this job search.

When I moved to the Bay Area, I knew ZERO lawyers. I did not have family in the business that could help me land the job of my dreams. I had no one to ask when I needed the "inside scoop" about a job opportunity. Therefore, I had to develop a game plan to meet professionals and develop a relationship with them. 

Each week, I attend a few networking events hosted by local bar associations or alumni associations. At those events, I “network, network, network,” but it does not end there! There is a next step! Networking, and I will call it networking superficially, is only the beginning of my relationship with a person. Now, its time to sort through the business cards and get talking! The next step is to reach out and ask someone if they would be willing to have coffee and discuss their career.  By doing so, I have been able to learn how other attorneys have succeeded. I have learned what has worked for them and what has not. They all have given my nuggets of great advice that will make me a better attorney. Most of all, I have learned the type of professional I want to become. Some attorneys I have met are downright inspirational. I take note. Others have, well, been … disappointing. I still take note. I try to learn not only what practice area I want to work in, or how others have gotten their dream jobs, but I also learn what type of lawyer I want to be 20 years from now when I am a veteran attorney and others are struggling to “make-it.” 

After my first meeting with an attorney, I rinse and repeat- I keep my new contact up-to-date on any new developments. I try to be in contact with the person at other events, meetings, or through emails. I do not just let the contact fall into the bottom of the shoebox containing all the business cards I have collected!

My individual meetings have helped me develop a network of a core group of attorneys that may not have a job opening right now, or work in an area of law I want to pursue, but they are looking out for me. They forward job opportunities to me that they hear of behind the scenes. They help me make other contacts and expand my network. They are the first people I turn to when I am applying for the “dream” job to see if one of them knows anyone at the particular firm, company, or agency.

So far, I am still looking for work but my network has helped me find temporary opportunities and is always on the lookout for permanent positions. They have my back. My glass is half full! I have used this time to develop my network. A network that will not only help me today but may be able to vouch for me in the future when its time to make my next career move. Someday, my network may refer clients to me or, better yet, my network may stand behind me when I want to become a judge or decide to run for political office (ahem, ahem… a woman can dream, right????).

There is a positive side to unemployment but you have to develop it.

- The Grateful Attorney



I love this column, and you’re absolutely right! So many people focus on sending in hundreds of resumes, but the real goal is to figure out what you want beforehand, and meet people who can help you get there.
Best of luck! I’m sure you’ll land on your feet.

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