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3 Ways In-House Counsel Can Thrive Post-Layoff

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been laid off from your corporate counsel job and are looking for some counsel layoff tips to get you started on the road back.

Before jumping in though, I want you to know something: you are not alone.

As someone who has survived and thrived after a 2022 layoff, I can assuredly say that you are in fantastic company. This past year, the U.S. laid off 1.4 million people every month. Talented, worthwhile, valuable people.

If you’re carrying the false misconception that layoffs don’t typically impact in-house legal, and your layoff is somehow unprecedented or shameful, please know this is in no way true.

The reality is that in-house legal teams are not only contending with the legal implications that accompany organizational layoffs, they’re also part of them. Bloomberg Law noted that the 11,000-plus jobs cut by Facebook parent Meta included cuts to the in-house legal department.

So if you are one of many legal professionals impacted by organizational cutbacks, your layoff is not a reflection of your skills, capabilities, or marketability as a legal professional.

With that in mind, let’s discuss some in-house counsel layoff tips that can help you secure your next corporate counsel role.

Quickstart Tips

Whether you take a breather or jump into the job search immediately, I encourage you to do these four things first.

Don’t Put an End to Your Current Role on LinkedIn.

Recruiters are tracking layoffs by company. If you break the link between you and your company on LinkedIn, you may not come up when a recruiter searches for you by company name.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile.

Is your headshot recent? Does your “About” section accurately reflect what you bring to the table? Give your profile a once over and freshen it up. It does not have to be perfect to be effective, so don’t let perfectionism keep you from levelling things up.

Request LinkedIn Recommendations.

Your recommendations don’t have to come directly from former co-workers; endorsements from your industry peers are equally valuable. I want you to request LinkedIn recommendations for two reasons:

-Remembering what you bring to the table in a post-layoff headspace can be challenging. Reading recommendations is a great way to remind yourself of the exceptional skills and talent you possess.

-You may be able to use these recommendations during the hiring process. For my final interview, Brightflag asked me to give a presentation about how I would approach content marketing. I showcased some of my LinkedIn recommendations on the last slide, the one that would be up on the screen as we closed the interview.

Example text showing recommendations and feedback.

Take the Market’s Temperature.

I wanted to wrap myself up in a blanket burrito after I was laid off. But as layoffs progressed, I knew that the longer I waited to job search, the more candidates would be on the market with me. While I began my job search immediately, I want to stress that your mental and physical well-being is the most important thing here. If taking care of yourself requires a break before job searching, please take it regardless of market indicators.

Top 3 Tips for Launching Your New Job Search

I’m not a lawyer. (A phrase I’ve uttered more often than I thought I would in this lifetime.) I’m also not a Legal Operations professional, a General Counsel, a Chief of Legal, and so forth.

What I am, is someone who secured 90% of her interviews without ever filling out a job application. I also interviewed with 12 companies and had three competing offers within three weeks of being laid off.

Am I the world’s most in-demand content marketer? Absolutely not. But I am good at conducting a job search in a tough economy, and the counsel layoff tips I want to share with you are universal to most professions, including legal.

Tip # 1: Write a LinkedIn post about your layoff. Write several.

My job search kicked into gear once I made a LinkedIn post about being laid off. The more “open to work” posts I made, the more job-seeking comments I left, the more people reached out to me.

I encourage you to do the same. There are so many people on LinkedIn, both in your network and outside of it, that want to boost your job search. But they can’t do it if they aren’t aware of it.

Because I don’t have a legal background, I wanted to verify that this advice would be relevant for in-house legal professionals, so I reached out to Matthew Wheatley, Vice President of Client Development at Priori.

If you aren’t familiar with Priori, they are a global legal marketplace that is changing the way in-house teams find and engage outside counsel. Here’s what Matthew had to say:

“I appreciate that everyone’s comfort level around sharing news like this varies, but I would strongly encourage legal professionals to consider posting about their situation on LinkedIn.

If you haven’t spent a ton of time on LinkedIn recently, you may be surprised to find that there’s a very engaged legal community on the platform. It’s not unusual for posts regarding layoffs to receive 10’s of thousands of impressions and hundreds of interactions.
In my role, we spend time reaching out to legal professionals who have shared they’ve been impacted by layoffs.

The feedback we sometimes receive from these folks is that it took them a few days to respond because they were inundated with messages from hiring managers, recruiters, and people generally offering support.”

Below are some suggested post guidelines to get you started on LinkedIn.

Post with a picture.

The picture you post doesn’t need to be of you, especially if doing so feels performative. But I want you to post with pictures because LinkedIn posts with images receive 2x as much engagement as those without.

Play tag.

Tagging colleagues when you mention them is not only good social media manners, it also allows you to leverage their networks by putting your post in their newsfeeds.

Once you’ve posted about being open to work, I encourage you to continue to post throughout your job search. Daily if you can. Doing this increases your reach and puts you directly in front of the hiring managers in your newsfeed.

Don’t sweat over likes.

The goal of posting on LinkedIn is to put yourself in front of the right people, not all the people. If your post only gets eight likes, but two of those are hiring managers you connect with, it was a worthwhile post!

Tip #2: Level up

The job you had when you were laid off doesn’t need to be what you aspire to now. Don’t be afraid to reach for roles one (or more) steps ahead of where you currently are.

Keep in mind that you may have already been silently promoted at your last job. Organizations have been increasingly asking in-house legal professionals to “do more with less. This mandate means many legal professionals have been doing their jobs, as well as the jobs of those several steps ahead of them, for some time now.

Instead of focusing on the title you held at your last company, look at what you’ve accomplished. Were you an Assistant General Counsel doing the work of a General Counsel? Own that achievement during your job search!

Tip #3: Be authentic and find your fit

My goal in writing this article is not just to empower you with counsel layoff tips that will help you find your next in-house legal position; it’s also to help you find a place you can be happy in. The anxiety of dealing with a layoff can make us feel pressured to hurry up and find a new role, but landing at a place that doesn’t feel like a good fit will only compound an already stressful time.

Instead, consider being brave about putting who you are and what you have to offer out there during your job search. Let your sense of humor and personality shine through when you post on LinkedIn or speak in an interview. Authentically putting yourself out into the world will help you attract the attention of organizations that value your traits. I know that when I try to be someone I’m not, I end up in the places I don’t want to be.

Conclusion

Our goal at Brightflag is not only to be your legal operations partner of choice but to genuinely be a resource for you in every way possible. Because of this, Kevin Cohn, Brightflag’s Chief Customer Officer, has been posting about new in-house roles as they come up, so I encourage you to add him to your list of follows for more insights and counsel layoff tips.

You got this!

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