The next Woman Who Wows is Emily Witt, a managing director at boutique legal search and matchmaking firm Whistler Partners in NYC. Emily spent almost 15 years in the recruiting department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
Emily is also a fully certified comprehensive Pilates instructor. She combines her love of recruiting with helping people physically. One of her first placements in legal recruiting was one of her Pilates clients. Learn more about her classes – she’s currently teaching online too. And read her Q&A below.
Why did you choose your profession?
I chose my profession at the suggestion of a friend who was a lawyer at Cravath Swaine & Moore in New York City. She was also my rock climbing partner, and we had many conversations at the climbing wall about our professional lives. I had just quit my job in book publishing and thought I might want to try something in human resources. She said, “Emily, there are hundreds of law firms in New York City; why don’t you try legal recruiting?” My friend put me in touch with one of the recruiters at Cravath, but there weren’t any openings there, so her colleague gave me the name of a reputable headhunter for recruiters. When I learned more about what recruiting at a law firm entailed, what appealed to me was that I could help shape the hiring for an organization. I also appreciated the event planning and social aspect of the work.
I worked together with the recruiter to find a fit, but I also did quite a bit of searching on my own. I used to sit in Barnes & Noble, before we had smartphones and WiFi, writing down the names of all of the recruiting managers from the Vault Guide. I would go home to my computer and send emails to all of the names from the list telling them I wanted to be a recruiting assistant. I sent out over a hundred emails and lined up multiple interviews. After about two months of looking, I landed my first legal recruiting job at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. I am proud to say that was one of the firms I had reached out to on my own and came about from my perseverance in trying all angles in a job search.
What do you love most about what you do?
I’ve always appreciated that I’ve had incredible teachers and mentors throughout my life that have propelled me forward. It’s incredible how one person can make a suggestion, and your path can go in a particular direction. I love being that person for my candidates. The job allows me to coach, provide advice and assist someone at such a pivotal point in their lives. Job searching is deeply personal, and there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to getting someone a job. I enjoy the creative piece where I look for jobs that match the candidate’s personality, salary requirements and skill set. It’s incredibly satisfying to work with a candidate and see them get a position they want. When they are excited about their first day, I know that I’ve succeeded.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
I was reading an article about a journalist talking about her career. She said that for her to enjoy her job fully, she always needs to have a little fear or she is not feeling challenged. I thought about that comment and how it relates to the work I do. I try to find things in my day to day that intimidates me and embrace that emotion. Sometimes when I have a little nervous energy or have a pit in my stomach before giving a presentation, I take it all in and think, “Well, this is why I am here in the first place.”