Funemployment – The Bad and the Ugly

It only made sense to combine the bad and the ugly when it came to the realities of (f)unemployment – to not combine would have been redundant… and excessively negative. We shall address, move on and not dwell on such negativity.

Unemployment sucks. In a major way. And while I had the savings and security to get through unemployment financially (for a few months at least), the uncertainty nearly killed me. I am a planner – a neurotic, type-A, organization-obsessed, plan-ahead kind of gal. So when I left my job in London (also leaving behind my social life, the comforts of a city I had come to love, and a professional path I was unsure about generally), it was a huge leap into the complete unknown.

I started out with two legal recruiters – one American and one English – taking a trans-Atlantic approach to the job hunt. After months (literally five whole months… September to January) of interviewing with different law firms in NYC, with no written offers for employment, I was forced to start thinking outside of the legal box. For those of you interested in the gritty details – there are some issues of my legal qualification that I am having to iron out with the New York Board of Legal Examiners and I am still waiting on their approval of my eligibility to sit the NY Bar… they have until September to make their decision. The law firms in NY would not hire me until I had that approval which, due to the rules and delays of the Bar, is completely out of my hands.

So in the depths of the bleak New York winter (in early December), I started looking at other options beyond being an attorney. I was looking at finance, compliance, risk, project management, regulatory coordination, and executive support roles, primarily in large financial institutions and family offices. I applied through placement agencies as well as directly through the companies themselves. Just after Christmas, I started interview processes at two different organizations, going through 3-4 rounds of interviews at each over the course of three months, until I finally got an offer in early March.

Some not-so-funemployment stats:

  • # of law firms my resume went to in NYC: 43
  • # of law firms that called me in for an interview (or 13): 3
  • # of law firms that made me a conditional offer (still pending): 1
  • # of rounds of interviews at 3 law firms: 10 rounds
  • # of partners who interviewed total: 26 partners
  • Minutes spent interviewing at 3 law firms: 780 minutes, or 13 hours of interview time
  • # of applications submitted to non-law jobs: 54 (that I can count)
  • # of non-law interviews: 10 total (4 different companies)
  • # of actual, written offers: 1

What I wish I would have known:

  1. It takes FOR-EV-ER. If I would have known that it would take me 7 months to find a new job, I would have taken some low-level customer service job (at a fitness studio, for the free classes… or something like that) ages ago… just for fun. Or I would have run off to South America… either way, I would have done things differently.
  2. The combination of waiting and uncertainty may kill you… it almost killed me (not to be dramatic or anything).
  3. They will interview you extensively, even if they aren’t hiring for a specific role, and even if they aren’t hiring at all.
  4. November 15th to January 15th is a complete write-off. Again, I should have run off to South America. (Yes, I know, I ran off to Mexico and Costa Rica for a couple weeks, but still…)
  5. Just because one person likes you, doesn’t mean they have the authority to hire you or even influence recruitment at all.
  6. Not working isn’t all sunshine and unicorns – the uncertainty of not knowing when your next paycheck is coming, the lack of purpose and daily routine – make it hard to really enjoy that time away for the office. I spent months focusing all of my energy on a job search… I could have spent that time and energy on having fun, traveling, brainstorming passive income streams, etc etc… but no, instead I was focused on trolling, scheduling useless interviews and worrying about next steps in my job search.

If you are thinking of making a serious professional move, making a serious physical move or doing both at the same time (ya crazy)… keep these things in mind!

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