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January 2020

How bad is it to....

Man.nervousWe all make mistakes. However, there are degrees of mistakes, some very bad, some, well, not so bad. Here are 5 scenarios that might sound familiar to you:

How bad is it to......

1.    Agree to a phone interview with a staffing organization recruiter and ghost or stand them up.

Recruiters are professionals. They take the time to answer your application. They set aside time in their very busy schedule that could have gone to someone else. Recruiters can be your best friend because not only do they know where the jobs are, they have intimate details of the firm that you would never know by answering an ad on a job board. They may even have other jobs available that you don't know about.

Once you stand them up, they put you down in their file as a "no show" and move on to the next candidate. It is really rude and frankly, unprofessional, not to even shoot the recruiter a one-line email and in the re line say you can't make it. That way, you remain friends and the recruiter can book their very valuable time with someone who does want the interview. You wouldn't stand up an employer, would you? Of course not! Why would you stand up the gatekeeper to the employer? What happens? Usually, after some time goes by, the candidate forgets that they stood that recruiter up and applies for their dream job with the same agency. The result? They are very definitely rejected.

How bad is it: Really, really bad.

2.    Your resume does not look that great. Yet, you refuse to change it, acknowledge it isn't the greatest or have someone else review it.

You use Times Roman font (outdated). You use the wrong grammar i.e., in past jobs. You say, "Drafts pleadings" instead of the past tense, "Drafted pleadings". (Employers bounce resumes for that reason. You don't know how to write.) You are not specific to the job description posted. You keep sending out the resume with little or no results and claim "age discrimination" or some such thing. You go back 30 years when you only need to go back 10 years.

How bad is it: Really bad.

3. You leave off your email or your phone number on your resume.

Seriously??? You say that you are getting too many spam calls. You forgot to put it on. Or, you leave off your email and say you don't want to reveal it to strangers or that you get too many emails. I am curious. How do you expect potential employers to reach you? Sometimes, they book an interview with you and only afterwards, realize there is no phone number on the resume.  It's annoying and makes you look unprepared. You are viewed as not detail oriented or, well, making a dumb mistake. (Honestly) They simply pass.

How bad is it: Really bad.

3. In an effort to adhere to the "one page" resume rule, you squeeze everything in or leave out important information.

Look. You need to sell yourself. You need to get past the gatekeeper. It's absolutely true that potential employers can spend less than 15 seconds perusing your resume seeking salient points. Two pages is perfectly ok. Three or four is not. It's better to have a good looking resume than one that is crowded or leaves off important information.

How bad is it: Kinda bad.

4. You just had a phone or face-to-face interview and you fail to send a thank-you email.

I cannot emphasize how important the thank you email is. First, it shows professionalism. Second, it reminds the potential employer of you and it is one more reason to get in front of them. Third,  employers review the thank you email and make assessments as to your writing ability along with your desire for the position.

The first paragraph thanks the employer for taking the time to meet with you. The second paragraph and most important, ties in something that was said in the interview that ties in with your skills. It shows that you were listening and reminds the employer of why you are qualified for the position. The third paragraph talks about looking forward to moving to the next step. Try not to use standard thank you's that everyone writes. Be original. It shows that you are well above the average candidate.

How bad is it? Sorta bad.

5. You have no questions to ask the interviewer after the interview.

The interviewer ends your talk and asks you if you have any questions. Now is the time to show off that you are highly interested. Don't say, "No, you've pretty much covered everything." Have two questions to ask about the job. Be sure not to ask what are the benefits, bonus and salary. Not the right time. Answering, “No, I have no questions” could signal to an interviewer that you lack enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and an understanding of everything discussed in the interview.

The first rule is never ask anything already covered. Listen carefully the entire way through your interview because if you ask something already expressed, it’ll seem like you weren’t listening. If you need something explained further, ask: “I’d like to revisit this point … can you elaborate on this for me?”

You might say:

  • ""I am very interested in this position and am confident I am qualified. Can you tell me if I am the type of candidate you are seeking?" The idea here is to find out what objections the interviewer might have. Finding out on the spot gives you a chance to explain further or more solidly clear up any doubts the interviewer might have instead of having them stew over it and send a rejection letter.
  • "How has this position changed over the years?"
  • "Is there anything that I haven't explained adequately that you would like to address?"

Here is a great article to help prepare you:
14 Impressive Questions to Answer at the End of the Interview

How bad is it? Pretty bad.

There are always things we could do better. However, these common mistakes can be avoided and you can spend a lot less time agonizing over why you didn't get an offer. Always take the path to success. Don't be resistant to trying new techniques. With the coming down economy, you may find yourself on the job market. (Hopefully, not.) Beat the competition and land the job you want. You'll be glad you did.

Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top staffing organization in California. She is also the President of the Organization of Legal Professionals and the Paralegal Knowledge Institute. Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. Chere is a recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. She is a former administrator in an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. She can be reached on Sundays from 3am-5am. Reach out at:






Can the Coronavirus hurt your job?

Coronavirus mask and suitSometimes, things happen in life that were totally unforeseen. Your job seems to be going well and it looks like there is lots of security. Then, before you know it, you’re thrown off course and your world is turned upside down. Suddenly, everything is in jeopardy - how you go about daily life has changed dramatically. 

We have been experiencing a candidate tight market in the past couple of years. Anytime the unemployment rate falls below 4%, there are more jobs than candidates. Future employees have not only had their pick of jobs, once in, it felt like you could stay forever. You probably felt secure in your job (unless you’re at a certain age and salary level, as there’s always worry and angst about age discrimination). Then, out of the blue, things changed - and not for the good.

Worldwide fear

Enter the Coronavirus. Fear has spread worldwide, and rightly so. The outbreak started growing worse, but still we felt immune—literally and figuratively. It wouldn't dare come to the U.S. China is just a vague concept to those of us in the states. It's far away and foreign to our culture. Rapidly, cases started to hit the U.S. and reality set in.  It was time to take cover.

Where is business headed?

The Coronavirus has undoubtedly affected a myriad of businesses:

  • Travel: airlines have taken a huge hit and cut the number of planes available; Internet booking such as Kayak, Hotwire and other companies' businesses appear down;
  • Hospitality industry: hotels, theme parks, restaurants, cruise lines, lodging and more, are all losing business
  • Hollywood: movies and entertainment- empty theaters abound. Even the new James Bond movie was pushed from a release in April to November;
  • Events and sports: stadiums are empty; concerts go unattended or are cancelled;
  • Event planning and all related businesses: not going to happen today;
  • Toy industry: many toys are manufactured in China;
  • Stock market has plunged to the lowest since the recession in 2009;
  • Automobile industry: cars manufactured in China; unable to get parts;
  • All businesses relying on China including manufacturers;
  • Tech industry: Smartphone and personal-computer makers: manufacturing could slow; weaker demand and supply-chain disruptions could weigh on sales;
  • Quarantines, travel bans and widespread business closures—could weigh on consumer and business spending;
  • Banks doing business in Europe and Asia;
  • Retail: shortage of goods;
  • Shipping: few goods shipped;
  • Tourism and related businesses - destination places severely hit;
  • Energy: weakened global demand for oil and gas;
  • Global trade;
  • Schools closing;
  • Manufacturing: disrupted supply chains;
  • And much, much more.

And, who do each and every one of these industries need? Lawyers. Just like the deep recession of 2008, law firms are bound to be affected. For now, things may still seem like they always were. However, the Coronavirus can change everything. The effect on law firms at this writing is unclear.

"The firm may be asking, "Do we want to hire?" "

Possible effects

One report says that the virus is expected to peak in March. A vaccine will not become available for Coronavirus3another year or year-and-a-half, so we really don't know what this will bring or how widespread it will become. Corporations and law firms might start cutting back. They will halt any new business initiatives, as they’d rather wait for better future clarity. Hiring will cease. Management won’t want to bring on new people—unless it's an incredibly important need—as they become fearful of the future.  They will ask, "Do we really want to bring on a number of new employees given this unknown rocky road ahead? There is no need to add new employees when business conditions are deteriorating", they’ll say.

Many corporate executives and firms will contemplate large layoffs. They’ll figure that it's cost effective to lighten the load and save costs by off-loading people. The firm may be asking: "Do we want to hire?" Sure, it's cold-hearted but managing partners need to protect the interests of the firm and their shareholders. 

Impact to your job

How severely can this affect the legal field? Truthfully, we don't know as yet. However, as the virus spreads throughout the country, changes are surely to take place. Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and other companies have already asked their employees to work remotely for at least a month. What this does to productivity remains to be seen.

What should you be doing? I sure hate to hear that you are doing nothing but in a way, we may all be victims of this horrible epidemic. First and foremost, follow the health safety procedures for prevention of the virus. Re-think where you are going, if at all, for vacation. Recently, my husband and I had booked a cruise (the first real vacation in years) to the Caribbean. When we heard that one of the ships was not allowed to dock at any of the islands and in fact, the only port that would take them in was Cozumel, Mexico, we worried. What if that were us? What if we were quarantined? What if we appeared sick or had a pre-existing condition and got accused of being sick? Holy, moly.

If you haven't already, start socking away as many dollars as you can in your 401k or savings. Get your resume ready. (You should always have it ready, anyway.) Start scouting out in-house legal departments or firms that possibly may not be affected. Get those billable hours up so that you are not on the short-list to be laid off, should the time arise. Make sure you are the go-to person in the firm and make yourself indispensable - although we all know, everyone is dispensable. However, a go-to person is less likely to be targeted.

Constantly communicate with your supervisors as they should be in the know about the firm's outlook. Be ready and alert. Follow the numbers to see if there is a decline in billable hours, loss of clients or fewer cases coming in over the transom. Are there secret meetings taking place? Always a sign that something is going on that the firm does not want you to know about. (If you have ever been through a merger, you know what I am talking about.)

Hopefully, we will be o.k. However, it's the great unknown out there. I would rather see people prepared (like preparing for an earthquake) and not need to implement their preparations, than get caught by surprise like many of us did in the wake of the recession.

Fasten your seat belts! This may be a bumpy ride. The situation may be very scary for awhile and longer than we want to think about. However, we have demonstrated time after time in this industry that we can overcome adversity and prevail. This situation may last a few weeks, several months or longer, it's really an overwhelming mystery.

History has shown that Americans are smart, industrious and inventive when our backs are against the wall. We’ve always managed to find a way to combat deadly diseases, outbreaks and epidemics. It may not happen overnight but we will find the right vaccines and prevention methods and life and work will turn around and we will get back to normal. Hopefully, no further lives will be lost in the process. In the meantime, keep washing your hands, stay calm, stay strong and most of all, stay positive.

Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top staffing organization in California. She is also the President of the Organization of Legal Professionals and the Paralegal Knowledge Institute. Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek and others. Chere is a recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and an Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. She is a former administrator in an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. She can be reached on Sundays from 3am-5am. Reach out at: