Surviving the Economy: Dancing in the economic storm

October 30, 2009

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass... It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

— Vivian Greene

Americans remain apprehensive about the economy, their job prospects and their incomes, even as a recovery is taking shape. We as a country are going through a financial crisis, which is testing us in many ways. Although, individually, we are being and will be affected to different degrees and in various ways, as a country, we are learning how to deal with these challenging times.

It is natural for us to be concerned about our future when we see the economy struggling and people getting laid off and lacking basic necessities. Anger is building in many sectors of society. Like many others, you may be feeling pain, fear, anxiety, betrayal, anger and even hate towards those you believe are responsible for what has happened. However, these emotions will not help you deal with the situation effectively.

Each of us desires the kind of comfort that will keep us steady in times of crisis, regardless of the circumstances. The process of remaining steady in challenging times begins with our outlook. It is important to remember that during difficult moments, we are not powerless. Rather, the contrary is true. We have the power to overcome many of the challenges we face. All too often, we feel so overwhelmed by negative possibilities that we fail to see opportunities before us. 

It is imperative to maintain an optimistic attitude and arm yourself with practical tools for survival. Since the job market is harder to penetrate now, making it even more competitive, you must be flexible regarding such issues as the type of employer, industry and compensation. Experience and education are more vital than ever. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn have become an excellent venue for reaching a vast pool of potential employers and should be considered an important resource when looking for jobs. Statistically, over 75% of jobs are found as a result of networking.

It also is essential to know what is going on in the job market and, specifically, the legal industry. This year, small and midsize law firms have been busier than larger ones. Some of these firms are litigation boutiques whose business has increased as a result of litigation related to failed companies and financial institutions or disgruntled investors. Securities and white-collar litigation also has begun to improve. Labor and employment litigation has increased since more companies have implemented layoffs. IP litigation also has remained a strong practice area in most markets. Bankruptcy and reorganization practices have thrived as a result of the economic impact on companies. Additionally, many smaller firms are busier because corporate clients have sought (or demanded) lower fees. Undoubtedly, this trend is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

Employers of all sizes are taking longer to make hiring decisions. Consequently, finding a job has become a much slower process. It is an employers’ market because they can afford to be more particular about which candidates they interview and hire given that they have a much larger pool of applicants to consider. Therefore, do not assume you have been rejected simply because you have not heard from a prospective employer in a few weeks.

It is a tough job market out there – probably one you never thought you would encounter in your lifetime. Opportunities are scarce in this economic climate and this is the new reality.  Multiple job offers are likely a thing of the past, at least for the time being. If you already have a job, remember that anyone in this economy could be the next person let go. Even if you are a star who has great training, experience and skills, and has formed alliances at work, you could be one step away from a job search. 

With that said… now is the time to outdress, outspeak and outsmart your competition. And most importantly… it’s time to learn to dance! Contact me when you’re ready for lessons. 

chicago river
  • “Searching for a job in the Chicago legal market from outside the city can be a daunting task. Having a recruiter like Chris Percival, with her extensive knowledge, experience and familiarity with Chicago firms, is a must. Chris prepared me for each interview by providing written materials ranging from NALP forms to newspaper clippings to mid-level associate surveys. Most valuable, however, was Chris’ insight into the varying firm cultures and work environments. Her first hand knowledge was evident throughout the process ... In the end, with Chris’ guidance, I had confidence that the firm I chose was right for me.”

    WARREN Y. NAKATANI, ESQ., Associate (now Partner)

    KATTEN MUCHIN & ZAVIS


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