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Brooklyn Bar Association helps attorneys improve their resumes during COVID-19

May 26, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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More than two million New Yorkers have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and lawyers are not immune. To help laid-off attorneys and people who are simply looking for a new job, the Brooklyn Bar Association held a continuing legal education seminar to help ensure that lawyers are putting their best foot forward.

On Monday, May 18, Richard Klass, second vice president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, moderated a two-hour CLE entitled, “Resume Building and Interview Skills” along with panelists Andrea Bonina and David Sarnoff.

“Andrea Bonina is a past president of the Brooklyn Bar Association and the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association,” Klass said. “She is currently the chair of the 2nd Department Grievance Committee. She has a lot of experience in this area. She is familiar with interviewing people, how to construct a resume, and she is very helpful in giving insight from the employers’ side of this process.

Attorney Andrea Bonina.

“We also have an expert, David Sarnoff, who is a retired attorney, but for about 15 years he did executive search and recruiting, and coached attorneys in career search and presentation skills,” Klass continued. “He’s here to show you what employers are looking for out of a prospective employee.”

Sarnoff explained that the most important aspect of a resume is that it be clear, brief and descriptive while being accurate and free of typos.

“The one thing that pops out to people reviewing resumes is that if it has a mistake, it’s almost an overemphasis to the person reading it because they read so many,” Sarnoff said. “So proofread, proofread, proofread, and keep it to one page. Your bio or CV can be extended, but even if you are practicing for 10 or 15 years your resume should be on one page.”

Sarnoff also explained that resumes should be tailored specifically for the job a person is applying for.

Retired attorney David Sarnoff.

“While some skills can transfer, if your resume is focused on mergers and acquisitions but you are applying for a trust and estate position and there is no obvious nexus. Between your skills and the job description it’s not going to weigh in your favor,” he said.

Bonina had bad news for people who are taking it easy while they are furloughed or laid off during the pandemic — she plans to ask potential employees what they did with their time. Sarnoff agreed.

“When I’m back interviewing one question that I’m going to ask of everyone applying to every position is going to be — what do you do with yourself during lockdown?” Bonina said. “Did you try to work, try to write articles, and if you were furloughed did you take classes to learn new skills? I want to hear how people spent their time because it’s going to be revealing about what kind of drive and determination they have.”

The Brooklyn Bar Association will host its next CLE, its first from the new “Lunch and Learn” series, on best practices in the bankruptcy court on Tuesday, May 26 at 12:30 p.m.

That lecture will be hosted by Justice Elizabeth Stong, a judge in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York and the vice chair of the BBA’s Bankruptcy Committee. The panelists will include attorneys David Doyaga, Gregory Messer, Rachel Blumenfeld and Sidney Cherubin.

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