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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

September 15, 2016
Question

Funny Business.

answer
Julie Q. Brush

If you’re Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey or Will Farrell, funny business is good business. But if you’re a candidate in the legal profession (or any profession for that matter) seeking to land your next position, the engagement in funny business is most certainly…not funny. Nor is it the wisest of practices.

The legal profession is still in the midst of its massive disruption. The tunnel remains pitch black – with no glimmer of light at its end…quite yet. And this state of being is continuing to unnerve lawyers in a big way – and exacerbate anxieties and fear. That’s a lethal cocktail for those in the employment market braving the new playing field and challenges that come with it.

So candidates are turning to certain tactics and approaches to compete more effectively. Driven by fear, wishful thinking…and hope. These tactics range from fairly benign to outrageous. Below are a few examples. 

Resume Slight of Hand.

Afraid of being rejected for being too old? Too many moves? Being laid off? Fired? Unemployed? Less than stellar education or employers? A little tweak here…an omission there will do the trick. No harm no foul, right? Wrong. Here are some current funny business practices on resumes:

  • Omitting entire employment positions
  • Leaving off dates for grad years and/or employment positions
  • Lumping employers under one heading ie: “Law Firms” “Other Companies” to camouflage number of moves
  • Listing employment as “Current” when in fact you are no longer employed.
  • Omitting education
  • Rearranging employment history to hide gaps

LinkedIn Profile Abracadabra.

Unlike the resume, the level of professional accountability for one’s LinkedIn profile is virtually nonexistant. So professionals take greater license in manipulating their “professional social profile”. True, sometimes it doesn’t make sense or matter to include the kitchen sink. But sometimes it does. More funny business practices:

  • Omitting employment positions to mask numerous moves
  • Listing that you are still currently employed with last employer…when you’re not.
  • Puffing substantive experience, ie: making it appear that you are a licensing lawyer when you are really a litigator
  • Including only selected education

Compensation Truth Bending.

The drive to maximize an offer. More funny:

  • Providing an all-in cash comp number when asked for base comp
  • Lying about target bonus and fudging annual stock payout numbers
  • Messaging contentment with a job’s compensation range (and/or title), when you’re really not. Then hoping to change an employer’s mind once they see how awesome you are.

Recruiter Bait and Switch:

Here, candidates tell the external recruiter what they think they want to hear in order to get in front of an employer (ok with comp, title, commute, role, management, industry, level of interest etc.). But then message something different in the interview or even worse, once they receive an offer. Client questions recruiter. Recruiter feels duped by candidate. Candidate’s reputation plummets.

Other funny business tactics include: Being untruthful about other offers in order to build leverage. Being overly aggressive and circumventing key hiring personnel.

While these tactics may seem like a good idea to get you want you want, they’re not. And never will be. Someone…somewhere…somehow will eventually find out the truth. And it won’t reflect well on you. Granted, there will be times when it won’t make much of a difference. But there will also be times when it will make all the difference. Now you tell me….Is that a risk work taking?

So if you feel yourself tempted to pursue one of these approaches…Stop. Reflect. And ask yourself what’s driving you. Most likely it’s fear. Instead, determine how you can get want you want by being upfront and direct. And have the courage to proceed accordingly. Sometimes you won’t succeed. Sometimes you will. But it’s a more virtuous path that will make you feel positive while preserving and sometimes even…enhancing your reputation.

So the next time you encounter a situation where Funny Business seems like the best option, pause and take the road of greater transparency. You feel more confident with your real self shining through.

And that’s the best kind of business.

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