Job Search During CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19

Just like everybody else, MSL students are feeling the crush of the current health crisis. One topic that we have received a lot of questions about involves the current state of the job market.  Though there isn’t a lot of concrete information available right now, our Director of Program Development, Shilpa Gokhale, recently compiled some information for our students; read on to learn some of what Shilpa had to say.

Overall, different companies are handling things in different ways; companies are using a variety of approaches with their hiring processes. Some organizations have slowed down the timing of their interview process so that they can get a better sense of the market. If you’re currently in the midst of interviewing with a company, please be patient! The turnaround time may be longer than usual, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hear back. There are also some companies that have put a temporary freeze on hiring so that they can better assess the situation as it evolves. This means that certain positions may go into a holding pattern for the time being. Be communicative (but respectful) with any potential employers you have already been in touch with; you don’t want to pester them, but they understand that you are just trying to get a better sense of how they are handling things at this time. Finally, we have heard about some companies that are moving ahead with their hiring processes. Keep an eye out for these companies, as there may be some opportunities that you wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.

A couple things to keep in mind:

  • Keep networking!  In times like this, continuing to build and maintain your network is important.  For those of you who have been networking throughout the year, keep it up! If you were waiting to get started, there’s no better time than now! As law/graduate students, you have the benefit of having networks and contacts from your undergraduate schools (and any other graduate programs you’ve attended), as well as from the law school and also the larger Northwestern University. Consider reaching out to contacts from all of your different networks – make connections and schedule phone or Zoom calls with them to learn more about their industry or role.  One note: please keep in mind that people are dealing with various issues right now (whether work-, family-, or health-related); be respectful when asking for people’s time.
  • Be flexible/Think about Plan B.  When you were initially constructing your job search, you may have thought about working for a specific company, looking in a particular city, or being part of a certain type of organization.  With things changing so much on a daily basis, you may need to be a bit more flexible now.  Maybe that means opening up your geographic parameters or considering roles at slightly smaller (or larger) companies than you were initially thinking about.  As a reminder, people make many job transitions during their career, so even if the first job isn’t “perfect,” you will still have the opportunity, over time, to get to where you want to be.
  • Assess your skillset.  As you research employers and positions, be mindful of what organizations are looking for and do an honest self-assessment of your skillset.  Are there areas that you could strengthen? For example, if you think that your Excel knowledge isn’t the best, try to find a way to get better.  There are a variety of platforms that offer excellent remote training options, such as Coursera and others.
  • Think creatively. Certain industries are likely to suffer dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, while others will have more business than they can handle (in time).  Think about industries that are essential in our current environment and/or industries that might be involved with the recovery process.  You might want to open up, modify, or adjust your job search strategy based on the current state of the world.

Finally, here are links to a couple of articles that might provide some good guidance during these unusual times:

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