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Whether you’re a law student or an experienced lawyer, searching for your first or next job can seem daunting — but that’s only if you choose to perceive it as such. As a career consultant, I have coached many lawyers through their job search process. Through this experience I have found that people often forget the most important thing about searching for a job: that it is indeed a process. It is not a hunt. It is not a war. It is merely a process — a series of actions leading to some end. The problem for most people is that the “end” becomes the focus because they can only think about their need for a job, so the actions in the process are hurried or even forgotten. They race to get their resume out to as many places as possible while forgetting the most important part of the process — the beginning. And as my great Aunt Dot always says, “Too much hurry up no good.” Many of the calls I get are from people who have been in the process for at least a month who wonder why they aren’t making any progress. After questioning them about what steps they’ve taken, I have to tell them to start over. One can’t expect to make progress without performing the whole series of actions necessary to get to the end. Avoiding such steps only delays the process. YOUR PERCEPTION OF YOURSELF When starting to look for a job, most people begin by writing their resume. However, your personal perception is more vital than even your resume. The reason is because it is your perception of yourself that sets the tone for the entire process. After all, you are what you think, and what you think resonates with others. Regardless of how much control you think you have, your thoughts will become manifest in your behavior one way or another. Fear, desperation, and anger produce tones which repel others, not attract them. So, even if you do get the interview, you won’t get the job if you have the wrong perception of yourself. Step One: Assess your perception of yourself with respect to your job search. Sit down and write out what first comes to mind as you think about searching for a job. Are you that fearful you’ll never find a job? Do you feel like you have nothing to offer? Are you angry because others have told you you didn’t go to “the right school?” Do you think you have too little experience? Too much? Do you feel desperate? Be honest with yourself. No one else has to see this. Now, after you’ve written down those thoughts, read them over. This is your perception of yourself with respect to this process. Is your perception negative, nervous, angry, fearful, limiting? If it is, throw it away — literally. Throw that sheet of paper away. By discarding that paper, you are discarding those thoughts. Step Tw Forming the right perception of yourself. A. Your Accomplishments List Without thinking about formatting, write down all of your accomplishments — graduating from college, law school, projects you did while in school, articles you’ve published, raising three children on your own, learning how to gourmet cook — everything. Now read it — really examine it. It’s very important to remind yourself of who you are. You’re not just a lawyer. Being a lawyer is only one part of you. It doesn’t define the whole you. Maybe you’re also a great piano player, or poet. Unfortunately, these other aspects of who we are often get lost as our entire focus is locked on the need for a job. Yet, how can potential employers see who you are and all you have to offer if you don’t? As you’re reading over your list, think about the work and effort you put into the process of making those accomplishments happen. I’d bet most of those accomplishments seemed daunting when you first began the process of achieving them. But you did achieve them. And you can achieve this. B. Your Gratitude List Another very effective exercise is to think of 10 things in your life for which you are grateful. These can be anything — friends, your home, the sunny day, your morning coffee. Think of anything which brings you happiness. I coached a candidate whose bitter and dejected perception changed when he did this exercise. His focus shifted from his lack of a job to his gratitude for the things he already had — a happy marriage of 23 years; kids who were safe and secure. He added to his list daily so that his shift in perception wasn’t just temporary, but actually became his reality. His tone, free from anger, resonated positively with interviewers. He started getting call-back interviews. His job search process finally gained the momentum for which he’d been waiting. USING YOUR LISTS You now have two tools to help you keep your personal perception positive and your tone attractive. Both of these tools should be used — daily if necessary. Refer to your list of accomplishments when any negative thoughts creep into your consciousness, when you receive a rejection letter, or have a bad interview. Read it before an interview. Use it as a reference when writing that winning resume. Your gratitude list is an active one and should be added to periodically. Don’t focus on what you lack, but on what you have. And remember, a shift in perception does not happen overnight. Like anything else, it, too, is a process, and only working at it can make it happen. Simply knowing how to do it is not effective. What’s effective is knowing and doing. The reality of this process is that rejection letters and bad interviews are just a part of it. Better to simply accept that and take these steps to keep your perception of yourself positive than to fight it — fighting it only prolongs the process. Laura Flores is a career expert and principal of Laura Flores Associates. She can be reached at [email protected].

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