Can someone explain why there are non-forever stamps? After accidentally mailing out a job application yesterday with a 41 cent stamp, I’m worried the damned thing will be returned tomorrow for want of a one center. Wasn’t that the whole idea of the forever stamp? Phasing out the one cent stamps…forever?
May 20, 2008
May 18, 2008
A certain municipality advertised an attorney position opening recently. I decided to apply for that position. The detailed job description, frustratingly located in a PDF, indicated one could apply either by mailing in a cover letter, resume, and a three page application or by applying “online.” Because the deadline is Wednesday, I thought I’d play it safe and apply online. So I signed up for the municipality’s human resources system. Login, password and all that. Then I cut and paste my resume into the proper fields. I looked up my former supervisor’s telephone numbers. I spent some time. And then the system showed me all the open positions currently accepting applications online. There was the job I was looking for. Clicked on it. And? The original PDF containing the detailed job description opened up.
In other words, there is no way to submit an application online. All the work translating my resume into the system was for naught; it couldn’t even auto-fill the fillable PDF application. And, to add insult to injury, I had to translate information contained in my resume into the application PDF again; a strict “no referring to an external document” rule was laid down in the application instructions. I think in a few months, when I’ve either got the job or not, I’m going to write the municipality’s human resource people a stern letter.
April 24, 2008
Went to a job interview in Seattle yesterday morning. Thought it went pretty well, although I believe both the interviewer and I came to the tacit conclusion after an hour or so that I may not be the best fit for the position. Indeed, I’m sort of regretting not being more forthright about my desire to get away from rubberstamp grunt work, and get into complex and novel legal issues, and how I want to reinvent the wheel on all documents I use because I get frustrated by others’ writing style. Good things, though? I felt not at all dangerously under-qualified, despite being very much on the low end in terms of number of years of experience, as compared with the others in the office. Also, it didn’t seem that hard to actually get the interview in the first place (especially as compared with my experience during the Summer and Fall of 2006); I must be getting the sort of experience in my current position that I can parlay into at least some civil law jobs.
February 1, 2007
After spending many months actively searching for employment as a lawyer, many of those months with a subscription to LawCrossing, I have concluded LawCrossing is a waste of money.
The site is an aggregator. It pulls together job listings from various sources, tags them by location, required experience, area of law, etc. Sounds useful, right? Useful enough to spend $30 per month on? I thought so. I figured, if it gets me a job, a month or three of $30 payments won’t break me.
Problem is, the site doesn’t work very well. Nice interface and all. But the tags are frequently inaccurate. A number of times I saw job tagged as requiring 0-1 years of experience, but with the description clearly stating 3+ years were required. Or jobs were listed as being in Washington state, when in fact they were located in Western Australia. [Both are abbreviated "WA".] Or jobs were listed that did not exist.
More importantly, it was rare that I saw a legitimate job posted on LawCrossing that I didn’t see elsewhere. I suppose for someone who is truly awful at finding job listings, LawCrossing may be of some use. But the company does not seem to have access to listings not already publicly available elsewhere. Occasionally, I’ll see it on LawCrossing first. But the posting will be just garbled enough that if I didn’t look elsewhere for the original, I’d have messed up pretty bad. Example: a job posting I saw recently on LawCrossing indicated applicants ought to either mail, fax, or email a resume and cover letter. No email address was provided. A search of the firm in question’s website revealed no publicly available email addresses. After a little searching, I found the original posting…on craigslist. It was a craigslist email address the firm wanted applicants to use. Saved me the days it would have taken to get there by mail and the cost of postage.
The real thing that sticks in my craw, though, is that when I went to cancel LawCrossing’s service, I couldn’t find anything about the process anywhere on its site. So I emailed customer service, informing them of my decision. I was told “for security purposes,” I had to call them. I was able to sign up for the service without a telephone call; I don’t think I should have to call to cancel service.
Lesson: avoid LawCrossing and save yourself $30 per month.
December 2, 2006
During my job hunting efforts, I came across the following solicitation on the WSBA’s job board:
Litigation associates: Hiring one entry-level and one approximately five-year experienced associate, for our expanding Bellevue civil litigation firm. Both positions require excellent writing and research skills. The experienced associate must have experience running cases independently. Energetic and self-motivated firm culture. Reasonable billable requirements with attainable bonus structure. Salary DOE. Full benefits. Respond by e-mail only with résumé and s/j writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The posting is vague enough that I thought it might be worth applying to. However, the documents requested are (1) a resume, and (2) an “s/j writing sample.” Anyone have any idea what the second requested document is?
November 14, 2006
I got a job. Full time. As a lawyer. In downtown Seattle. With a civil firm. Sort of.
Why only sort of?
Because I’m not getting paid. It’s a volunteer position.
Let the uncomfortable kudos and rationalization-undermining snarks begin.
November 7, 2006
About the same time Dale suggested we see Crispin Glover’s What Is It? (which he reviews admirably on his MySpace blog; why he bothers putting anything there anymore, given the existence of his much more friendly WordPress-powered blog is beyond me; I’m this close to writing my own review), I decided to volunteer for the Northwest Film Forum. The Northwest Film Forum (or NWFF) is an odd little movie theater that screens avant garde new films, revivals of films that impress film dorks, etc. It is also a production house and equipment renter. And it offers film classes. And funnels money between wealthier patrons and indigent artists. And, on some level, functions as a film appreciation society. I am not sure exactly why I decided to volunteer, other than (1) I am bored while I look for employment, (2) I like film, but don’t really know much about anything other than the “watching” aspect, and even there I’m somewhat underinformed.
Because I’m not working, I am uniquely suited to being an “office volunteer.” Which means that I am primarily purposed with manning the information desk, answering questions of those that drop by or call the NWFF, for four hours during the day. Or that’s what I would be primarily doing if I were the only volunteer staffer during my timeslot. As it was, there was a very nice woman named Salise who had been volunteering for longer than I who sat in the volunteer spot and took most of the volunteer side jobs. Upshot? I only fielded half of the telephone calls (for a total of about ten over four hours) and reshelved four books to the NWFF’s private library. Not exactly the most exciting day. Still, I didn’t really ask for more. And, given how surprised the staffmember who showed me around was to learn that I volunteered, given my completely unfilmcentric background, I’m not surprised not much work came my way. And it isn’t as if I was any more bored than I would have been. I had a computer with Internet access and a comfy chair. Just like home, except with the added bonus of people around talking.
Perhaps next week things’ll pick up.
November 3, 2006
Does anyone have any idea what the phrase “submit your resume in confidence to” means? As in, “If you’re interested in this position, please submit your resume in confidence to Jean Shackleburg, Director of Hiring Affairs and Chimpanzee Maintenance, at email@example.com.” The “in confidence” part is the part I am confused by. With a fax, I suppose it would mean to put a cover sheet over the resume, so the secretary who mans the fax machine doesn’t accidentally see its contents. I’m not sure why that would matter for most positions. But at least I understand what action an applicant might take to fulfill the promise that the resume will be submitted “in confidence.” But in an email? Thoughts?
October 23, 2006
After unsuccessfully searching for work for a few months, one gets the distinct impression that something about one’s search process is flawed. Whether it be that one is looking in the wrong places, failing to understand the nature of potential employers’ needs, a Gypsy curse, or an ineffective resume, the impression that something is adversely affecting the job search process is hard to shake when months have gone by with little but rejection letters.
It is the ineffective resume that I’m concerned with today. I received form letter advice from a high level headhunter–which does not, by the way, concern itself with recent law school graduates–who suggested I take a gander at Legal Authority‘s services. I’m only a few minutes into doing so, but I’m already a little worried that these people have no idea what they’re talking about. On their “this is how a resume is supposed to be” page, the following sentences appear:
You should always use a private email address to give the appearance of discretion during a job search. Think about the message your email address conveys, as well. If, say, your friends know you as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, you should invest in a professional-sounding email address from one of the free services. Even something like firstname.lastname@example.org could be misconstrued. It may not be too exciting, but you can’t go wrong with a simple email@example.com construction.
The first few sentences are good advice, if a bit obvious. Although I have to wonder about anyone who would send out a resume with the word “unicorn” appearing anywhere thereon. But the last sentence gave me pause. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I have long been under the impression that an ISP-based email address (e.g. AOL, Comcast, Qwest) is barely a cut above a free web-based email address (e.g. Hotmail, Yahoo!, Gmail) in terms of respectability. Sure, when emailing friends and family, firstname.lastname@example.org is just fine. But is it really appropriate as a business address? And if not, is it really appropriate for a job applicant to use it to attempt to enter the business world?
September 11, 2006
I’ve been looking for an attorney job in the Seattle region for a few months now, with over a month of active searching. [The prior months were taken up largely with reviewing for the bar exam and discovering what unemployment is all about: loafing.] And the pickings are somewhat slim. I explain the slimness of the pickings in part on the basis that I have not yet passed the bar. The Washington State Bar Association mysteriously decided that it was appropriate to have applicants wait until mid-October to learn the results of the late July exam. [When I do pass, I will write a stern letter to the WSBA decisionmakers involved and suggest that 71 days is an unreasonably long period of time.] Which means rejection letters from many potential employers until then. Because, understandably, they do not want to gamble on someone whose pass status is a yet unknown. It also means fewer listings I find it appropriate to even apply for. And it also, I believe, that a number of firms are holding off until October to even hint that a position may be opening up.
Today on LawCrossing I found a position with a particular firm that looked familiar. Sure enough, when I looked back at my records, I discovered I had applied for that position a month or so ago. And had received a rejection letter only days ago. That burns. I can understand that I am not going to be the best applicant in many cases. That, among the tens or hundreds of individuals applying for a particular position, at least one of them may be better suited to the position than I. I can live with that. But the reappearance of this job so soon after it was originally posted, and so soon after I was rejected, means that not only was I not the best applicant, I wasn’t even qualified. This firm solicited resumes, read through them, then determined no one was qualified. And I could even understand this if the firm had demanded a license. But when the listing bandies around terms like “entry level” and “recent graduate,” methinks it highly unlikely I was thrown off the “hireable” pile because of some simple defect. Rather, the firm looked at some element of my resume and balked. I wonder whether the word “Idaho” on my resume is hurting me more than I had originally thought…