Sexy résumé lands law grad fleeting fame if not job
A lawyer desperate to get a job has made an impression on the legal community here, but not necessarily in a good way.
2009 Villanova Law School grad Brian Zulberti said he was about two Red Bulls into a late-night push to e-mail every lawyer he could find in the legal directory when he decided to add a photo.
Not a typical head-and-shoulders, suit-and-tie mug photo, it was a picture of Zulberti, 30, in a T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, showing off his sculpted arms. Within a day of sending out his second round of e-mails, he became an Internet sensation.
"I was desperate to an extent," said Zulberti, adding he thought throwing in a little sex appeal might improve his chances.
This attracted the attention of the Above the Law Blog — apparently tipped off by an unimpressed lawyer that received it — which posted an item about Zulberti's letter and photo under the search term "Bad ideas."
"Seriously? Has this man no shame?" wrote Staci Zaretsky on the blog. "Who needs a résumé when you can send a selfie instead?"
The blog then went one step further and chastised Zulberti for pictures on his unsecured Facebook page, including one racy naked torso shot of Zulberti, his underwear dangerously low, holding a sign over his face that cried out for better grammar: "HIRE ME!!! no … as a Lawyer, … NOT A ESCORT… wait is it something I'm wearing."
"A picture is worth a thousand words, and here, all of those words seem to be: NO NO NO NO NO NO," Zaretsky wrote in the blog.
That started the explosion.
The blog post went viral on social media and Zulberti said he suddenly started getting a flood of friend requests on Facebook, less than 12 hours after he sent out his last batch of job-seeking e-mails. His voice mail and e-mail were soon swamped with messages.
Some were supportive, telling him not to give up hope. More called him a disgrace to Delaware, where he had just joined the bar. A number of friends told him to turn on his Facebook privacy settings.
That also was the advice of Delaware attorney and employment law expert Molly DiBianca.
"This is just wrong on so many levels," she said. Law firms want someone who is serious, professional and can show discretion. The images Zulberti posted of himself show "just the opposite."
"I'm sort of stunned by this picture. I can't stop looking at it," DiBianca said, noting that on top of everything there is a grammatical error in his "Hire Me" sign, which she said "looks like a 4-year-old wrote it."
Zulberti said soon after the blog mocked him, he started getting calls from media organizations and friends started sending him links to stories that had been posted about him from as far away as Croatia.
Among his Web hits:
• Gawker, "Lawyer Asks Hiring Firms to Google Him. Puts nude selfie on Facebook"
• MSN, "Law school grad bemoans job search, flaunts toned arms in cover letter"
• And even The Mail Online, the website of London's Daily Mail tabloid, "That's one way to bulk up your résumé!"
Some are getting the story wrong or at least misunderstanding it, Zulberti said.
"I never sent any pictures in my underwear to employers," he said. "I sent a picture in a muscle shirt. I will allow others to debate whether or not that was appropriate."
He said he already has talked to one Philadelphia radio show and has been invited to appear on The Steve Harvey Show.
The American Bar Association Journal website pointed to Zulberti's story as a cautionary tale both about the desperate job market, particularly for would-be lawyers, and the dangers of over-sharing on social media. Tuition and fees at Villanova Law School for the 2012-13 school year was $38,910, according to the Pennsylvania university's website.
But Zulberti said as far as he is concerned he sees no moral to the story.
Zulberti said he didn't intend to set off a social media firestorm. But now that it has arrived he is going to milk it, and enjoy it, for all it's worth.
"I went from being a guy with no job to a guy with no job on TV," he said with a laugh, sitting in his father's home where he lives.
In a YouTube response to Above the Law, Zulberti said while he initially felt the blog item was "rather insulting" and mean, the author also called him "a young stud."
"So it balances out," he said in the video, which has received nearly 10,000 views.
And through all the craziness, Zulberti has defiantly kept his Facebook page public and has continued to post provocative pictures of himself. Zulberti said to turn on privacy filters at this point would be to change who he is.
"I am the guy who takes pictures of himself in his underwear," he said, adding he thinks the images are funny and lawyers should be allowed a sense of humor.
"There is something to be said for being true to one's self in a job search," DiBianca said, but she added that people looking for a job have to be concerned about being a cultural fit with their employer. Reputation is an important part of being an lawyer. "And this does not come off professionally, to say the least.
"You have to keep client matters confidential," she said. "And he doesn't seem to understand the boundaries or lines of confidentiality very well."
Despite the largely negative online and media attention he's received, Zulberti said the job search is going well. He has received several invitations to submit his résumé, and one interview he had Friday went so well that he is hopeful it will lead to a job offer.
Zulberti said he recognizes that "the social media death hammer" ultimately may crush his legal dreams but hopes people judge him on his legal abilities and not Facebook pics of his pecs.
"All I need is one job," Zulberti said, even if 9,999 out of 10,000 potential employers don't like him. If he gets that job, he said he will have the last laugh.
"I feel I could be a very good attorney some day," he said.