You can be a genius and a perfect candidate for a job, but if you walk into an interview looking like a mess or submit a resume with mistakes or too much information, your potential employer might never find out about your valuable attributes, says Jessica Silverstein.
“I’ve done it myself,” she told NJ Jewish News. “I’ve tossed aside a resume because it had too many pages or there were too many typos. It might cost money to get these things right, but it’s an investment that could change your life.”
An attorney and owner of her own career counseling service, Silverstein has been advising recent law school graduates as well as seasoned lawyers on how to find jobs in this market, and her tips, she said, work just as well for job-seekers in other fields.
She will share her expertise on Wednesday evening, Jan. 4, at Wilf Jewish Community Campus at an event hosted by Jewish Family Service of Central NJ’s Economic Response Initiative. The program, funded by the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey and run by Carol Einhorn and Sheri Brown, provides free educational events, group support, and individual counseling for job seekers.
“First impressions count,” Silverstein said. “I have seen so many horror stories. People have been turned away because they came in for an interview smelling funny because of the lunch they just ate or they smelled of cigarette smoke or too much cologne.”
She said she plans to help participants draft a new resume that is polished, honest, and visually impressive.
Silverstein’s own career path is a model in adaptability and fine-tuning. With a father who was a doctor and a mother who was a teacher, she chose to go into law, she said, “because it wasn’t what they did.” She graduated from Brooklyn Law School, and while she enjoyed “using my brain the way lawyers do,” she very soon realized that she had no desire to handle litigation or criminal cases.
Following an interest she had had since childhood, she worked for three years handling Holocaust restitution cases. She also dealt with issues relating to women’s health products. But what she enjoyed most was recruiting, dealing with different lawyers and law firms, being a matchmaker. Having a child — who is now three — and moving to New Jersey closed some doors and opened others.
She is now chair of the Law Student Perspectives Committee at the New York City Bar Association. She is the attorney job search expert at Job-Hunt.org, an award-winning on-line employment portal, and she has spoken at many venues, including the New York City Bar Association, Met Life, and Fordham University School of Law. She also serves as cochair of the Brandeis Alumni Lawyers Network and is a member of the Lawyers in Transition Committee of the New York State Bar Association and a member of Hadassah’s New York Attorneys Council.
“I never planned to be an entrepreneur, running my own business,” she said, “but I could be happy doing this for the rest of my life.”