The Job Search: A Professional Dating Game

It takes a lot of courage to tell someone that you are interested in them. You might venture to say “hi” or strike up what you hope is a “casual” conversation. You invest countless hours observing them and finding out what things they like. If you are a law student, you scope out future employers just like you nervously glanced at that guy or girl in the coffee shop or the one that sat behind you in your Torts class. Somehow, you discover that you have several things in common and you begin to look for a chance to get to know them better. Instead of sending a text, you sit down and write that cover letter:

Dear Firm,

I’ve seen you around and you seem really nice. You know, we actually met at this networking event a few months ago. I really like the work you do and your areas of practice. I’m interested in a lot of those things, too. Maybe we could meet up sometime… to, you know, get to know each other better?


An Interested Law Student

You drop the letter in the mail with a copy of your most recent and flattering résumé. You may even ask a few of your friends to talk you up and casually mention how awesome you really are in the hopes that it will help persuade them to give you a chance.

Someone may have introduced you, you might have attended a speed-dating job fair, or maybe you did a bit of online searching. Frankly, your method does not matter. Every law student is looking for that ideal career. Some of us simply want to find a short-term job before we move on to something else. Others, like me, are looking for that one job that will make us stop looking at all other jobs – the job that will last a lifetime (because, let’s be honest, no one really retires from the legal profession). You can often invest a lot of time, energy, and emotions in looking for the best job for you. Honestly, searching for jobs can feel a lot like dating – minus all the romance.

When you send that cover letter, you might think you have absolutely no chance with them, but you keep your fingers crossed and hope that someone actually reads it and that they will, at least, let you know what they think. If they actually agree to see you, you may be a little surprised. Still, you mark your calendar and start picking out your best outfit. When the day arrives, you hope that everything is in order. Your hair is perfect. You arrive to your “date” on time. Your conversation is the ideal balance of intelligence and witticism. You barely notice that you have been talking for hours and you leave on cloud nine. Things could not have gone better. In fact, you are almost certain that you will be having several more delightful conversations with this firm very soon.

Sometime in the future, with a smile on your face, you check your voicemail. By now, you are sure that you missed a call. While there may be a few messages from your mom, there is nothing from the person that you really wanted to hear from. Finally you hear something but it isn’t what you hoped to hear. It’s a rejection letter. It is written more formally, of course, but the content is basically like any other rejection: “Hey! I had a lot of fun the other day. So, listen, I think we would like to see other people. Really, it’s not you. I think that you’re a really great guy/girl. I just don’t think that it’s going to work out.”

When you stop staring at the phone in disbelief, you try to figure out what went wrong or what you might have said. It is hard to reconcile that there really was nothing wrong with you; you really are a great candidate. Your mom and your professors have spent the past umpteen years telling you that. So, it must be true. Obviously, you may be disappointed. I mean, you really liked this firm.

Somehow, instead of drowning your sorrows in a pint of ice cream, you manage to deal with the rejection and try to go through this same process with other firms that look pretty appealing, too. Along the way, some firms will seem interested and others will not. Some firms may wine and dine you or attempt to impress you with what they have to offer. While you enjoy nice conversation and meals as much as the next person, you hope that one of these will lead to a more substantial relationship.

If you think about it, the search can be frustrating. One attempt after another feels like a bust. It seems like every time you turn around, another friend is making an announcement about their future plans. Periodically, you may find yourself asking “Why Lord?” or “What is wrong with me?”

If you are like me, you truly believe that the legal profession is your area of passion. I find it to be stressful when I cannot immediately find the perfect position that I always envisioned. Still, I keep telling myself that I cannot give up because “the right one” will come along. Cliché? Yes, but I have to believe that it really is out there. What can I say? I will admit that I am a hopeless romantic. It might take a while to stumble across it, but I believe that it is out there somewhere.




Filed under University of Tennessee College of Law

2 responses to “The Job Search: A Professional Dating Game

  1. Nicely done! Very funny, and very true.

  2. Tennessee Bar Journal

    A perfect parallel and well said, AnCharlene! And hilarious. Love it. Here’s hoping “the one” comes along soon. 😉

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