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Cut The Chaff: Why Knowing What To Leave OFF Your CV Is As Important As What To Include

  • February 20, 2024

As one of the most important documents in the first stage of a legal candidate’s job search (alongside the LinkedIn profile), the CV is arguably an inexhaustible topic of discussion for hirers and legal professionals alike, particularly where relevance, structure and formatting are concerned. And although these are still very much pertinent, an equally crucial – and often overlooked – aspect of CV crafting is the skill of knowing what has no place on it, and what can be detrimental to its effectiveness.  

Spending time reviewing and improving your CV is undoubtedly time well spent, although you should never just cram it with additional points if they aren’t going to add value to any application or to enhance your profile. 

Ensuring there is the right amount of information on the document to demonstrate suitability for the role is important, but it’s a fine balance to ensure that it is to the point and not full of distractions or waffle – especially when you consider that hiring managers and recruiters take only a few seconds to scan the document and make a decision to progress, or not. 

As such, it’s always worth considering what information serves little to no purpose in your CV and worse, is potentially squandering your prospects altogether…  

Less is More 

Starting with the often-overlooked but opening information, things like your age, marital status, and arguably personal hobbies should not be in your CV as they not only hold little relevance to the position (and thus, little value to a hirer ) but they can potentially prove detrimental to your efforts, as in having them present they waste the precious time your CV has been afforded to catch a hiring manager’s eye, and can introduce an unconscious bias towards applicants of certain age groups or demographic.  

If you do want to add in a short section about interests outside of work, it’s usually best to give this no more than a few lines – you can always leave talking about this personal element in your profile to the interview itself. These should also fit in with the professional persona you wish to portray = so talking about how you love going out with your friends on an evening, or a vanilla ‘I like doing exercise’ are taking up precious real estate on the page that can be much better-utilised. 

Cull the Obvious 

Similarly, any notices informing employers that ‘references are available upon request’ are unnecessary and should be taken out. This is already implied through your job application itself and so is an obvious fact that doesn’t need reiterating in your CV. The same thing applies to any ‘salary negotiable’ statements – this is not new or unexpected information to employers and is needlessly taking up space. Ultimately, any generalist information that doesn’t communicate what the hiring firm will be looking for in your CV shouldn’t be included and failure to keep your CV clutter-free can give off the impression that little effort has gone into tailoring it for the role, and that it is being used as a catch-all document for multiple job applications. 

If you’re wondering why that might be that off-putting to recruiting firms, it is because it is one of the tell-tale signs of a spray-and-pray job application approach. And whether intentional or not, it is a surefire way to get yours binned. 

Avoid the Jobseeker Jargon Trap 

Pertinent to this is the common mistake of peppering a CV with all sorts of jargon and cliches, which is just as damaging to a candidate’s prospects if not more. When writing a CV to present as compelling a narrative of your professional journey as possible, the use of certain phrases or buzzwords to ‘doll up’ one’s profile can be a tempting move (and it may be the case that these have slipped into your vernacular simply due to ignorance); however, is an all-too-familiar ploy to employers, and an eyesore they will readily want to avoid, especially if such statements or phrases aren’t backed up by any quantifiable evidence.  

The language you use to highlight your skills and suitability is every bit as important as the information it is trying to convey and requires just as much thought and consideration. As such, a sense check of where your CV leans more on generic statements instead of measurable results, and how it can be better-written is essential if you’re aiming to craft one that catches the eye. 

With the widespread adoption of the likes of ChatGPT and other AI tools, it’s also worth considering how such tools can help (or hinder) in this regard. 

If you do choose to utilise an AI tool to support, it is a well-known no-no to write the whole document from scratch, simply because it increases the likelihood of fabricated details being added to your draft. A better approach would be to do it section by section, beginning with your personal statement, then your experience & responsibilities, then your achievements, and so on. This not only helps to avoid having false information but it also makes it easier to spot it as you work through your draft section by section, should it still be added in, and allows you to better format your CV while doing so. 

Click here for more information on how to avoid the jobseeker jargon trap. 

Filter Out the Chaff 

This applies to any other kind of passive language present in your CV or anything speculative, such as extensive lists of job roles and responsibilities without any relevant accomplishments. A career is not something that just happened to you and should never be treated as such by the language you use to describe why you are a good fit for the role.  

Your CV should be filled with examples where you actively take credit for your work and achievements to quantify your value as a potential hire, and where this is absent it signals a lack of confidence in your suitability as a candidate to hirers, which can seriously hurt your chances of employment. Remember that firms want to ensure their investment in a candidate is going to yield encouraging results, and if your CV doesn’t give them the impression that you are worth that investment, they will waste no time with time consuming interview process. 

Finally, 

When it comes to the communication of information through any media, what is said is so often what comprises the subject of discussion, when it is really how such information is structured and conveyed and – at times, what is omitted – that tends to make the difference in how it is processed and interpreted.  

This is what underpins the skill of CV crafting and where the ones that top the pile shine – no matter the role, specialism or sector in question. When every second counts with your prospects on the line, your CV needs to sell you in as clear and compelling a manner as possible – a feat we as recruiters are very much aware can be tricky at times, even for the most experienced of legal professionals. That’s why at Clayton Legal, our expertise goes beyond  the often perceived ‘transactional’ process of matching CVs to open roles. 

We are every bit as committed to empowering the legal professionals we work with to present themselves as the first choice hire, whether that be at the initial screening or interview stages. If your next career move seems to be very much on the horizon but needs clarity with regard to the way forward, we are here to help. Give us a call on 01772 259 121 or contact us here. 

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6 Ways to Make Attracting Legal Talent Easier in 2024

  • January 29, 2024

Following the pandemic businesses across the legal industry have gradually started to find their feet, slowly but surely accepting and adapting to the multitude of changes the post-pandemic market has thrust on our shoulders. Employers have recognised and respected the change in status quo concerning the expectations set out in current client and employee demands and seem to be reworking their hiring strategies accordingly to keep up.

Last year however, it wasn’t quite the year of progress many would’ve envisioned, and while it’s certainly true that finding the right legal talent in today’s market is rarely ever a straightforward task, many will agree that few years have brought more challenges when it came to both the recruitment AND retention of top talent.

According to a report released last year by Vacancysoft and Search, 2023 was a less active year than anticipated for the UK’s top law firms with vacancies down 35.5% year-on-year. And, even as hiring appetite increases as a new year takes hold, according to the Wolters Kluwer ‘Future Ready Lawyer 2023’ Report, recruitment and retention are likely to still be key challenges for the legal industry in the next 3 years, one that legal professionals “are not yet ready to overcome.” A similar concern for the general outlook on recruitment in the coming years was also echoed by the International Bar Association in their IBA legal agenda, listing talent attraction and retention as one of the biggest challenges to businesses in the sector, due to the changing demands and priorities of younger legal professionals, in particular work-life balance and a greater sense of purpose in the work they do on a day-to-day basis.

For any firm intent on growth this year, there is therefore no better time than now to put your recruitment process under the microscope and lay the groundwork needed for it be successful – particularly against a backdrop of continued economic uncertainty and a skills shortage still prevalent in the sector.

Recruitment can be, and often is, a laborious and multi-faceted process, but here are 6 steps to ensure you start on the right path this coming year >>>

1. A Focus on Flexibility

A direct and perhaps one of the biggest consequences of the widely reported skills shortage is the sudden shift of the industry towards a more digital tech-oriented manner of working and the incorporation of such tools into legal practice – something that’s sure to change demand for certain skillsets within the legal profession. What is poignant about this fact however, is how it will actually emphasise the need for soft skills in the near future. With AI technology set to spearhead the streamlining of legal procedures and more work to be commoditised, what will be highly sought after by legal employers skills-wise is the ability to deal with human beings, and the qualities that best serve that purpose.

However, if some of the inflexibility found in firms across the sector continues to persist, the search for talent of this calibre will only get harder. A paper published last year by Harvard Business School and Accenture revealed that a huge number of skilled hidden workers are shut out of employment simply due to the lack of flexibility present among employers today. Law firms risk being oblivious to the reservoir of talent right under their noses if they fail to adapt to the changing demands of legal professionals.

It therefore serves your firm far better to begin looking at how you can better serve the candidates you want working at your firm. Whether this requires a sit-down with your recruitment team to discuss how such accommodations can be made and communicated throughout the hiring process or a talk with your management team to improve existing firm practices to better support its employees, it is a must for any firm seeking to remain attractive to prospective candidates.

2. Update Your Hiring Strategy With a Focus on Candidate Care

As you begin to rework your hiring and firm practices with your candidates in mind, the central theme of empathy should be the thread that runs throughout your hiring process, as this is what virtually all job seekers are looking for at the end of the day.

Show your candidates you have their best interests in mind and are invested in delivering the right level of support at every stage of the application process, by implementing strategies for better candidate care. This could involve simplifying interview processes to enhance accessibility through the option of flexible interview locations or the use of screen readers during assessments. This could be especially ideal if you’re looking to hire remote and hybrid employees.

Remember to implement and establish channels of communication with your candidates throughout the hiring process too. Regular communication is key to a good candidate experience.

3. Refine Your Employer Brand

Your employer brand is what gives your law firm the edge over the competition in your search for legal talent. It’s how you ensure you appeal to candidates with what your firm has to offer, whether that be an excellent salary and benefit options, a sense of purpose, shared values or great career development opportunities.

Despite its recognised importance in any successful hiring endeavour today, many law firms still struggle to utilise it effectively to position themselves in front of their target audience. If you find yourself questioning the efficacy of your brand, then a good starting point will be to define what makes people actually want to work with you. Ask your team members what convinced them to continue with your firm, and what they find most appealing about working there.

  • Do you have a supportive leadership team?
  • Does your firm offer excellent opportunities for professional development and growth?
  • Does it foster an employee-centric culture that eliminates many of the problems legal professionals encounter in the workplace, such as burnout?

Once you know what makes your business unique, the next step is to get it publicised as much as possible.

Don’t forget that existing employees can help here – particularly those that are engaged and are already good advocates for the business and brand.

By giving them a voice to provide prospective candidates with insights into the employee experience, you add much more credibility to your message and get the attention of the right individuals. Use testimonials, success stories and positive feedback to your advantage and make them known on social media as often as possible to expand your reach.

4. Review Your Digital Footprint

Establishing a compelling employer brand is pivotal for attracting top legal talent, but its effectiveness hinges on strategic exposure to the right audience. A strong digital presence is essential for any law firm in the industry today. Presently, approximately 86% of job seekers incorporate social media into their job search, and prospective legal candidates frequently turn to the web for insights into a firm’s culture through reviews.

Ensuring that your website provides an insider’s perspective on your business operations is crucial for the credibility and authenticity of your employer brand. Clearly articulate your values, mission statement, and vision to engage the interest of potential candidates while maintaining a consistent presence across the social channels frequented by your target candidates. Don’t forget to assess and update your appearance on job review boards too.

5. Spark the Interest You Want Through Your Job Descriptions

Your job descriptions are one of the first things potential candidates will examine when deciding whether they want to work with you. With this in mind, it’s important to ensure you’re conveying the right information. Don’t make the mistake of putting off talented legal employees by listing too many unnecessary or “preferred” skills.

Highlight only the characteristics and qualities you know you’re going to need most. At the same time, make sure you’re avoiding any language in your descriptions that may show unintentional bias towards a specific audience.

When writing your descriptions, don’t forget to showcase reasons why your candidates might want to work for you. Draw attention to your unique company culture, your salary package, and even the available training opportunities in place.

More help to ensure these turn the heads of the right people can be found here.

6. Bring in the Experts

When it comes to attracting legal talent, undoubtedly the best tool you can possibly have in your arsenal is the services of an expert in the field – one that takes the time to understand your firm’s business needs, and acts with your best interests at heart, while giving you the support you need at every step of the process. This is what makes the expertise of a legal recruitment partner so invaluable for hirers as not only can they position your business in front of the right legal candidates – a task becoming increasingly harder by the day in today’s market – but they also work with you to build a talent pipeline and ensure your recruitment process remains efficient and effective even when not actively hiring.

Amongst several other benefits that come with such partnerships, perhaps one of the most beneficial is that the longer you work with them, the better they can understand the needs of your firm, and the better the fit and quality of candidates they can find for your business as a result.

At Clayton Legal, we work with law firms such as yours to make this a reality, no matter the staffing requirement asked of us, and are committed to adding real value to the businesses that partner with us for their hiring needs. Our team make it their mission to ensure you get nothing less than the support and the talent you need to make your recruitment endeavours successful – and are on hand to provide guidance throughout the process wherever necessary.

If you are currently weighing up your options and feel that your hiring efforts could do with a little extra help from a recruitment expert then there is no better time than now to get in touch with our team for an informal chat about how we could help. Give us a ring on 01772 259 121 today or contact us here.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Navigating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Blueprint for Law Firms

  • December 15, 2023

Workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion, commonly abbreviated as DEI, encompass the establishment of policies and procedures that actively promote the representation and involvement of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including varying genders, races, ethnicities, religions, ages, sexual orientations, disabilities, and social classes.

Creating an inclusive workplace culture has been high on the agenda of many businesses in the last few years and the benefits around this are much publicised – from aiding employee recruitment, engagement, and retention, to innovation, strategic growth, and performance of the business more widely.

In the context of law firms, embracing DEI principles is not merely a moral imperative, but arguably a strategic necessity. The legal profession, like any other, benefits immensely from a diverse array of perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. In a multicultural and pluralistic society such as the UK, ensuring representation and inclusion in law firms is paramount to building trust, credibility, and legitimacy within the broader community.

Law firms that prioritise DEI initiatives are better positioned to address the diverse needs of their clients, who themselves come from various walks of life. A diverse legal team enhances the capacity to understand and navigate the intricacies of complex legal issues, thereby promoting a more nuanced and comprehensive approach to problem-solving. Moreover, fostering an inclusive environment within law firms is essential for attracting and retaining top talent from all backgrounds, ensuring that the legal profession reflects the rich tapestry of the society it serves.

The benefits are clear – and widely acknowledged across the legal landscape, but does that necessarily translate into actionable and implementable practices?

Arguably not…or at least, not at the moment.

A National Scandal?

Back in September 2023, Matthew Hill, the Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board (LSB), addressed the issue of diversity at the Law Society’s Junior Solicitors Network summit, asserting that the lack of diversity at partnership level in major law firms should be a matter of ‘national scandal’.

While discussing the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), Hill emphasised that the new centralised assessments were not intended to instantly resolve all diversity issues. Instead, he highlighted the broader concerns of attracting individuals to the legal profession and making the legal career path universally appealing. Hill identified existing working practices within law firms, such as informal strategy planning in exclusive settings, as hidden barriers for individuals from diverse backgrounds. He called for increased transparency in progression and promotions, urging a re-evaluation of how seniority is perceived in the legal profession, emphasising the need for a more sophisticated model that captures the diverse richness of professional experience.

A recent article in the Law Gazette similarly highlighted that whilst the intake of trainees from a mix of racial, gender and socio-economic backgrounds has improved in recent years – the legal profession still faces huge challenges in retaining its diverse cohort – especially when it came to a seat ‘at the top table’ and making DEI a strategic management decision.

How Diverse Is the Legal Profession? Current State of Play

According to the latest data published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in the United Kingdom at least, there has been a slow but steady increase in diversity among all lawyers since the previous survey in 2021, although there is still some way to go with certain diversity groups and categories.

Ethnic lawyers constitute only 18% of the law firm lawyer population, and the disabled make up just 5%, in contrast to the 14% representation in the overall UK workforce. While there have been some advancements in the US, similar patterns have emerged; the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) citing that although 28% of law firm associates belong to minority groups, only 11.4% ascend to partner positions.

While the lack of diversity and equal opportunities remains a significant topic of discussion in the legal industry today, it is not a new challenge. In fact, calls for enhanced diversity date back to 2008. As awareness among legal professionals regarding the significance of working for firms that advocate diversity increases, coupled with a growing client demand for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the question looms: How will law firms choose to address this issue?

DEI – A Recap

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a term used to describe policies and programmes that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including people of different ages, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, genders, religions, cultures, and sexual orientation.

Its significance in achieving long-term corporate success cannot be understated, as it forms an integral part of the firm culture that employees will be reliant on to achieve optimal performance. A good way to understand its role in business is to consider the following analogy depicted by former Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan, Robert Sellers:

  • Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party
  • Inclusion means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist
  • Equity means that everyone has the opportunity to dance

This metaphor is an apt way of describing how DEI policies are to work in practice. The CIPD confirms that while U.K. legislation sets minimum standards overlaying disability, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation, among others – an effective DEI strategy goes further than being legally compliant. DEI implementation is meant to unite the best interests of both employee and employer by supporting and promoting the wellbeing and engagement of the former, which in turn adds increased value to the latter.

DEI and Business Growth

The business case for diversity has been well-documented since the McKinsey reports produced on the topic in 2014. Their latest published report still confirms that the case remains strong, with a few key findings indicating that the connection between diversity on executive teams and financial outperformance has only strengthened over time. Some of them include the following:

  • Companies with more than 30 per cent women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30, and in turn, these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives or none at all
  • A substantial differential likelihood of outperformance—48 percent—separates the most from the least gender-diverse companies

All encouraging signs that show what is possible with enough support and focus.

However, while there is a profound awareness of the need to step up efforts in DEI, this growing imperative is not reflected in practice. The NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education revealed in 2021 that the overall attrition rate for associates was as high as 34% among legal professionals of colour. This was further corroborated by a research paper released by Thomson Reuters institute, which showed that women, minorities and LGBTQ+ associates represented the biggest flight risk for firms. Considering these are also groups that were found to struggle the most during the pandemic, this signifies a serious lack of impetus and action on the part of employers to foster a diverse and inclusive workforce.

While it is indeed logical to assume that law firms do want to attract diverse talent, based on the data previously mentioned and the skills shortage problem many are contending with, it does not take away from the fact that barriers to progress still remain among minority groups and that the homogeneous and straight-and-narrow way of recruiting is very much still a prominent amongst legal employers, which is in turn affecting their ability to attract and acquire the talent they need.

Demand For DEI Initiatives Driven By Workforce

Interestingly our changing workforce increasingly wants to join teams that embrace diversity. A post last year on the LinkedIn talent blog revealed that employers that posted more about diversity received 26% more applications from women for example.

This data backs up The Psychological contract concept that first emerged in the 1960s related to our beliefs and expectations of our employers, confirming that employees want to work for employers with good practices where they also feel valued.

According to research from US firm, Eagle Hill Consulting circa 53% of workers stated that a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives play a key role in their decision about where to work. Yet only 29% of employees say their current employer has taken additional action to demonstrate a commitment to DEI in the past six months.

Fairness and equality are becoming ever more important amongst the Gen Z demographic cohort specifically – with research demonstrating that 77% of Gen Z consider it important that their company supports diversity.

Similarly, the latest research from YouGov, which looks specifically at attitudes of employees in Great Britain on the topic of DEI, found that two-thirds of working Britons (66%) said that the acceptance and inclusion of employees of all backgrounds is important to them when considering job opportunities – especially since a ‘substantial proportion of respondents’ had faced some sort of discrimination in the workplace themselves.

Looking specifically at the role of DEI in recruitment terms, Sandra Kerr CBE (race director of Business in the Community), pressed the point that businesses don’t “underestimate the importance of strong diversity and inclusion policies for jobseekers”. She also pointed out that “employers could miss out on potential talent if they do not ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to grow and progress at their organisation,”

A stark warning indeed – particularly given the ongoing challenges around hiring talent and other variables such as a skills shortage and inertia to contend with.

Developing Your DEI Strategy

So, where do you start when it comes to developing a DEI strategy for your law firm? Conducting a sense check on your current practice is always a good idea, especially in light of remote and hybrid teams.

There is a well-versed quote from the personal development world that what you focus on grows. The converse is true. Perhaps the last couple of years have meant DEI, and its implementation has taken a back seat in your firm. We know from the latest headlines that the defined role of the ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ is waning, and there is more generally an exodus of DEI practitioners in businesses across all sectors.

And whilst this may, in part, have been driven by recessionary pressures or simply attrition, companies do concede that DEI in the workplace is still ‘mission critical’.

As recommended by Stephen Covey, the start needs to focus on the ‘end’ that the business has in mind. Assess your current state and where your desired state will be.

Your overall strategy needs to cover patterns in your ‘workplace’, whether that be remote or hybrid working; communication, both the what and the how; your L & D process and finally, how you will review your progress as you reinforce that your firm is the inclusive place to develop the legal career of it’s people.

Creating a more diverse and inclusive culture within law firms requires deliberate actions. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Recognise and Counter Bias – Promote self-awareness among team members by providing training on recognising and countering bias. Encourage reflection and learning about each other’s backgrounds, circumstances, and personal stories. Regular gatherings, whether in person or virtual, can facilitate open discussions and promote a more inclusive environment.
  2. Foster an Inclusive Internal Culture – Establish a culture that encourages open conversations about diversity and inclusion. Create opportunities for diverse groups within the firm to have a say in developing solutions. Have a clear plan in place to address bias and diversity issues, ensuring that every employee feels safe and heard.
  3. Embrace Inclusive Leadership – Leaders within the firm should embody inclusive practices and lead by example. Encourage leaders to listen to diverse perspectives and create opportunities for marginalised groups to thrive. Inclusive leadership sets the tone for the entire organisation and fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion.
  4. Utilise Data to Drive Progress – Measure the success of diversity initiatives by tracking relevant data and metrics. Setting clear metrics and goals allows firms to assess what is working and what needs improvement, and ultimately makes them accountable – especially when shared with all staff throughout the firm in question.
  5. Create an intentional hiring plan – If your goal is to foster law firm diversity and inclusion, then there must be a laser sharp focus on how this is considered when it comes to hiring new talent for your firm. The plan in question should, of course, fully align with your vision and objectives, but also needs to consider any potential for implicit bias when screening and evaluating candidates for the role(s).

On that last point, research from Resources For Employers highlighted that 56% of the Business and HR professionals surveyed said they did have initiatives relating to DEI in their recruitment strategy. And, whilst 24% said they didn’t, there were plans to put these in place.

The benefits of DEI in recruitment are clear, although implementation can be challenging. There may be unconscious bias at play, a general lack of diversity awareness within the hiring team or senior management, inconsistent measurement or evaluation, or simply a resistance to change.

Collaboration and partnership with a legal recruitment specialist may offer some assistance here – especially one that has a good understanding of your market, practice area, and region, and who has an extensive network of engaged candidates to approach about your role(s). Recruitment consultants can offer meaningful steps in the process including screening and helping to craft job descriptions for optimum success, and those worth their weight in gold will also abide by ethical recruitment practices and standards to ensure the highest standards of professionalism, fairness, and transparency is key.

Conclusion

The importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace cannot be overstated in today’s globalised and diverse workforce. A commitment to DEI not only aligns with ethical principles but also brings numerous benefits to organisations, including improved innovation, employee satisfaction, and overall business performance – as well as in the attraction and retention of top talent.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are not just buzzwords or indeed an acronym to promote and mention on the company website. They are essential components of a thriving and forward-thinking legal firm who understands that they must actively embrace these principles to ensure a fair, just, and representative legal landscape more widely. By adopting inclusive practices, fostering diverse talent, and committing to continuous improvement, law firms can lead the way in promoting a more inclusive and equitable future for the legal profession in the United Kingdom.

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. personnel to Practice Managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Are You Still In Love With Your Legal Job?

  • November 21, 2023

Find a job doing what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

It’s a common adage, but what does it really mean to “love” your job? Do people who love their never wish they spent their days kicking their feet up at home instead of being in the thick of it at work? Are people who love their jobs less likely to procrastinate, get caught up in a daydream, or have the odd bad day at the office?

Not necessarily.

Every position, even the one you can only dream of attaining, comes with a few pesky tasks you’d probably rather avoid. Loving your job isn’t synonymous with always having an unwavering passion to spend more time in the office than at home.

It simply means that when you do work, you’re passionate about what you do, find it highly engaging, and are committed to giving your best in your position with your chosen employer.

As we approach the year’s end, many will be assessing their options to gauge how well their needs are being met on a personal and professional level and among these, will have their career satisfaction and development front of mind.

If you find yourself in a similar vein of thought, then now is a good time for a little introspection regarding where your heart is at. Here’s how you can figure out if your love and passion for what you do is still going strong or if it might be time to move on to new pastures.

1. What Motivates You to Show Up?

If you do profess to love your job, then your biggest sources of motivation should transcend the monetary value it brings. Yes, money can certainly be a strong driver of performance, particularly in this line of work, but your first answer to the “why do I have this job” question shouldn’t be “it pays the bills”; if it is then something is amiss. If your motivations are primarily financial, then you’re working to check off tasks on a to-do list.

With this in mind, it’s worth looking at your biggest reasons for sticking with your current role. Do you share the same values and vision as the firm? Does it give you a sense of purpose, and do you enjoy the challenges that your work brings you day-to-day?

If you find that you’re failing to derive much fulfilment or lack any non-monetary sources of motivation, then the biggest favour you can do for your career right now is to have an honest conversation, both with yourself and with a specialist legal recruiter about what steps you can take to realign your current position with your present ambitions. After all, endless alternatives exist for the right talented professional.

2. Do you love the job but not the firm?

When you look at yourself 3 to 5 years from now, what future do you envision for your career? Do you see yourself working with the same firm, but further up the ladder in a position with a greater degree of responsibility? Does the thought of building your career there excite you? Or do you see your future taking your career in an entirely different direction?

If you find it difficult to see a clear path of progression at your current firm then it might be worth asking yourself if where you are now is really beneficial for your career, even if you do love what you do at present. What you don’t want is to find yourself 5 years from now in a position where the advice given in this piece rings true for your present situation. Sometimes, the best move for your career is a move away from your comfort zone.

3. Does Your Firm Love You Back?

Any good relationship is a two-way street. You can pour all your sweat, blood and tears into a role, but if this isn’t reciprocated by your firm, the relationship between both parties will quickly turn sour.

Ask yourself how you demonstrate your commitment to the business and also how (and if) your employer and the wider firm supports you in return. What kind of culture is the firm building, and how does it contribute to facilitating individual success from a performance and inclusivity standpoint? How frequently do your managers or team leaders share feedback with you through recognition and reward? Do you find your hard work to often go unnoticed? If your firm doesn’t make much of an effort to recognise its employees as valued members of the business, then there’s a good chance that your love for it will diminish over time.

4. Is Your Firm Invested in You?

If you’re deeply passionate about your role, chances are you dedicate a significant portion of your time and energy to your job. Perhaps you go the extra mile, ensuring that you deliver nothing less than the best on any project or case, and work to continuously add to your value as an asset. While your firm’s growth and success is certainly reliant on your level of commitment, it is once again important to consider how much this is reciprocated. How invested is your firm in your own growth? Are there regular conversations about your plan for and goals in development in check-ins or reviews? Does your manager take a proactive approach to supporting you in meeting your objectives?

Do you have access to in-house resources and training to upskill?

Or are you regarded as the sole person responsible in your firm for broadening your skillset? A company committed to nurturing the relationship between the business and its employees will consistently invest in its staff. Your engagement will eventually drop if or when you sense a lack of commitment from your firm in this area.

Is the Love Still There?

Over time, your love for your role will either flourish or wilt depending on your day-to-day experience on the job; and if the firm you work with is as invested and committed to helping you grow as you are to it, then the future is certainly bright for your career.

On the other hand, if you discover that over time, your love for your job begins to dwindle or aren’t sold on the prospect of building your career a growing with them, you can always look for other opportunities to find new love with a different firm.

If your general job satisfaction for either your current role, and/or your employer isn’t as strong as it once was, now could be the perfect time to start getting back on the playing field.

Wherever you are in your career journey, it is a good idea to periodically analyse your current position depending on where you want to be. When you dig a little deeper, is everything on track and working out as you expected? Or do you need to make some changes in order to meet your goals?

To help you measure if your legal career is progressing as you envisaged when you started out, we have created an easy-to-follow checklist to provide you with a snapshot of whether you’re on the right track.

The back end of a calendar year may seem like a strange point in time to begin your job search – but those considering a New Year opportunity should take heed of the fact that many will be ‘on the market’ as it were in January – making the aforementioned playing field that bit more competitive. What’s more, the festive period is often a time when individuals will have that much more time to dedicate to CV-updates and job applications.

So do get ahead of the curve and use these next few weeks wisely to reflect, review, and take action if needed.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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10 Smart Questions to Ask In Your Legal Interview

  • November 13, 2023

So, you’ve reached the first major milestone in your journey to finding a new legal role: being invited successfully for an interview.

Whilst there is already much to celebrate, arguably the hard work starts now and many legal recruiters will tell you it all boils down to one thing – preparation (and plenty of it).

There is already much written on the specifics of what kind of preparation you should consider. From researching a firm’s digital footprint (including PR, reviews, news articles and social media channels) to connecting with your interviewers on LinkedIn.

But there is also one element of an interview that is essential in not only demonstrating your interest and enthusiasm for the role and firm, but also in ensuring you are sense-checking job suitability against your own objectives while you’re in the room.

All interviews, whether they are conducted over the phone, over video/virtually, or face to face, will present the opportunity for you as the candidate to ask questions.

Pass up this opportunity at your peril.

We know from our own independent research that the top reasons legal professionals choose to move roles are:

  1. Progression
  2. Salary Increase
  3. Redundancy
  4. Relocation
  5. Work/life balance

It certainly makes sense therefore to pose your interviewer relevant questions that align with the above and use the interview as an opportunity to conduct your own due diligence of sorts.

Here are 10 smart questions to consider:

1. What are the opportunities for progression with the firm?

The question itself is multi-faceted in that by asking it, you are already demonstrating you are ambitious and career-minded and are already in it for the long run. It is also an essential question to pose if you have decided to leave your current role due to a lack of progression opportunities.

As your role’s career path and available opportunities are critical for your professional growth, it is in your best interest to find out where your future lies with the firm in question. One way to circumnavigate this topic if you’re concerned about being too direct is to ask instead ‘Where have successful employees in this role moved on to?’ or ‘How are promotions handled?’

You can also ask if there is specific career-path documentation although don’t be put off if this doesn’t exist in smaller firms. Whilst some roles may not necessarily have an apparent move ‘up’, you may still want to check that there are opportunities to train and upskill more generally.

2. How will my performance be evaluated?

Whilst we know that salary and remuneration are often a catalyst for moving roles, it is generally a no-no to ask about specifics in your interview – at least initially. That is of course, unless your interviewer brings the topic up themselves.

However, one area of questioning to consider instead which is likely to touch on the subject is around performance.

The question in itself demonstrates that you are eager to make a positive contribution to the firm and are once again thinking about your long-term career in understanding how job performance is evaluated.

You may want to probe a little further around expectations in the first 90 days, or the formal review process but should seek to understand any specific metrics or KPIs that you will be measured against.

Whilst this line of questioning doesn’t necessarily touch upon base salary on offer with the role, it is likely any sort of performance-related incentives or bonus will be communicated at this juncture.

3. What are the firm’s plans for growth and development in the next 5 years?

Asking questions about the firm’s growth trajectory will certainly impress during an interview. It shows that you are curious about the wider company and its success, rather than a sole focus on your role and the specifics that come with that.

However, the response you get from your interviewer will also give you further insight into progression plans (and where you may fit in with these in the future) as well a general idea of job security – a must if you have concerns in this area or perhaps find yourself on the job market due to a recent redundancy.

You shouldn’t however ask questions on this topic that you could typically find online – on the law firm’s own website for example. This may include things like their mission statement, their vision or press releases. This will only demonstrate that you haven’t done your homework.

Instead do an ‘environmental scan’ (a term used by Dr. Lenaghan at the Hofstra University School of Business) to understand what is happening in your specific practice area, region, or the legal sector more generally. The questions you ask then could focus on the broader implications of these on your role and the firm you are interviewing with.

4. How has the firm changed since you joined?

Questions that focus on the individual(s) who are interviewing you are a great way to build rapport and that initial relationship – imperative if they will be your direct line manager or supervisor if you are successful in getting the job.

However, this line of questioning is more so about ascertaining what the culture is like at the firm in question.

It allows you to sense-check that your own values align with the firm in question and consider your general compatibility and ‘fit’ on a deeper level than just being competent and able to do the job.

Making the transition from interviewee to interviewer isn’t always easy, but it will certainly help to uncover how those individuals view the office environment and helps to build a certain camaraderie from such a personal response.

5. What are the opportunities for collaboration within this particular role?

Asking questions that focus on your relationship with existing members of the firm is great in showing your interviewer that you are a team player that can think outside of the singular job description in front of them.

Questions that probe more generally around the specifics of the position are also worthwhile in understanding more about team dynamics, the structure of the law firm in question, and scope for growth and personal development.

If the role in question is hybrid or remote, this question also demonstrates that you are looking to cement working relationships regardless of where or how you physically work for the firm. This is important as the general sentiment around hybrid working and an apparent ‘gap’ between business leaders and employee preferences continues to widen, according to an article from the World Economic Forum released last year

The article focuses on research conducted by Ipsos in which over half a million survey responses from 95 countries were analysed revealing attitudes to hybrid working. Interestingly, over 25% said that working remotely improved communication and collaboration (and actually led to decisions being made swifter as a result).

Regardless of your anticipated working pattern, however, this question will also give you an insight into your direct team, individuals you will be working alongside, and other projects or steering groups you could be a part of.

6. What does a typical day look like in this role?

If you are looking to ascertain or enquire about work-life balance at the law firm in question, then you need to tread carefully. You don’t want to jump straight in by asking questions around working patterns, flexitime, expectations around working outside of contracted hours or holiday allowance (although all of these may certainly be on your mind when considering a new role).

Whilst there will be the opportunity to gain answers to some of these as part of the general hiring process (indeed your Recruitment Consultant can act as a liaison here) in the interview itself, you can certainly assess the work-life balance without projecting a negative impression – even if that means reading between the lines in places.

You might ask about a minimum billable hour requirement or ask the interviewer about their own work schedule over a typical week/month/quarter as well as ascertain if there are seasonal peaks (relevant to certain practice areas over others).

There is also a lot to be gained by assessing more generally the interview process itself; was it easy to get the interview arranged or has it been chaotic? Do the other team members in the office (or on-screen) seem relaxed and happy, or distracted and frenetic?

If you are looking for a new opportunity that offers a more suitable work-life balance, then questions that probe around this topic are essential, yet should be handled with care in order to still leave with a good impression and not focused solely on the ‘what is in it for me’ sentiment. A fine balance to strike.

7. How much contact with clients can I expect to have on a daily basis if I’m successful?

As a bit of a spin-off from the previous question, this one helps to further build a clearer picture of what to expect on a more practical level in a typical day on the job. As your skillset will be better suited to some aspects of the profession than others, this question provides the opportunity to gauge how much of the role actually aligns with your key strengths and whether it will ultimately be a good fit for you skill-wise.

If for example, you find that the role involves a lot more of the behind-the-scenes aspects of client management, such as document writing and paperwork than actual face-to-face interactions with clients, it may be best to reconsider the options you’ve got on the table with your recruitment consultant to find out where your preferred work style can be better accommodated.

8. Can you describe a typical client the firm represents?

This question serves a dual purpose here, for your sense-check of each party’s suitability. While you will likely be aware of the firm’s values and culture by this point from your own preliminary research about the business, learning what kind of clients the firm usually represents can give you an inside look at exactly how well this lines up with what is professed. It can also prove useful in determining whether you are likely to handle cases that resonate with any ethical considerations you might have, particularly if you’re being interviewed by a larger firm, as you would likely be working with a more diverse clientele. However, if you’re being interviewed by a smaller firm, it can be quite beneficial to gain pointers on which strategies and approaches can be best used to build rapport with clients, considering the type of client you will be working with will be more frequent.

9. How is workload distributed?

Getting a general idea of the distribution of tasks among team members allows you to gauge the level of collaboration, potential stressors, and potential work-life balance within the firm. This question helps to assess if there is a fair allocation of responsibilities, whether there are support systems in place, and how teams collaborate to meet deadlines. Moreover, it signals to the interviewer that the candidate is mindful of the practical aspects of the work environment and is interested in ensuring they can maintain a sustainable level of productivity.

10. What are the next steps in this process?

Understanding the general timeline and steps that follow the interview is important and shows the interviewer that you are still engaged and wanting to progress (if of course, you decide that you do at this juncture).

Rather than focus however on the ‘yes/no’ decision, or when to expect an invitation for the second/third interview, asking about the onboarding process or what the first few months will look like demonstrates further that you can envisage yourself in the position, and are enthusiastic about starting on that journey.

If nothing else, this line of questioning and the responses you get may indicate the interviewers’ own thoughts on you as a potential candidate through their body language and general fervour when they run through what those next steps look like.

In Conclusion

Asking strategic questions in your interview is always recommended and will undoubtedly impact the chance of you moving on to the next stage in the process.

In the same way that you will spend time researching the firm in question, as well as perfecting answers to the most commonly asked questions, preparing for the questions you wish to ask is always worthwhile.

At the very least, it demonstrates that you are engaged in the process and focused on a long-term career with the firm. Yet it is also the chance to cross-check against your own objectives and goals when looking for your next employer.

If you are leaving your current role due to a lack of progression – ask about those opportunities at this firm. If the catalyst to move is around culture fit, probe a little around that.

As a general rule, you shouldn’t focus too much on the specifics of the role regarding salary and benefits but do use this part of the interview to ask about the elements of the role you’re not sure about, any concerns, or to clarify a point that had been discussed earlier in the interview.

At Clayton Legal, our regional recruitment specialists help to prepare candidates for interview as standard as part of the service we offer. We already have valued working relationships with the many law firms we work with and, as such, can help to get a head start on some of the topics raised here around culture, structure, and remuneration.

If you are considering a move at the moment, our team can help to understand current opportunities in your region and practice area specialism, as well as general market conditions and the competitive landscape.

Get in touch today for a confidential, impartial chat and we’ll help you take that all-important first step in the next stage of your career.

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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The Ethical Steps to Finding A New Legal Role While You’re Still Employed

  • November 4, 2023

If you’re ready to start a new legal role this year, you’re not alone.

Despite the current economic climate and still choppy waters as we look ahead to 2024, it is nevertheless a great time to consider the next steps in your career – especially as law firms across the country continue their search for top talent in line with their own growth trajectories.

Multi-skilled legal professionals are in high demand across a number of practice areas and there are some fantastic opportunities for individuals at all levels who will no doubt be mindful of not only salary and benefits, but also assessing that all-important ‘fit’ on a number of levels including culture, shared values, green credentials, and genuine career development opportunities.

Current employment rates in the UK mean that most individuals will already be employed when considering a new role which can present several challenges in the job-searching process, particularly with regards to time and prudence in the manner of approach. Searching for a role when you’re currently employed elsewhere can be a tricky process, as the last thing you want to do is burn any bridges with your existing employer.

But there are several steps to take to kick-start the process:

Step 1: Prioritise Discretion

Discretion is key when you’re searching for a new role while you’re still employed. Although it might be tempting to speak to colleagues about your plans; avoid doing so at all costs.

Being discrete about your job search doesn’t just mean keeping quiet at work. It’s important to think about how you’re interacting online too.

Avoid mentioning your job search on social media or setting your LinkedIn status to “open to work”. It’s best to avoid posting your CV/Resume on job boards too.

This might seem like stating the obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often the above mistakes are made. Candidates are often left frustrated and unsettled when having to stay silent about their job search, as there is no one to share their progress or struggles with. But fighting that urge to spill the beans is crucial, as there is often no such thing as telling ‘one co-worker’ when a potential leaver is involved. You might as well be announcing it to the whole office! 

Not only can being overly vocal about your job search cause friction with your current employer, but it might tell future employers you’re not respectful of your role or the Firm you work for and represent. So, avoid putting yourself in a bad light with both parties – the last thing you want to do is sabotage your job search efforts through a lack of self-control. 

The points above however are largely null and void if you are in a position where redundancy is on the cards.

Step 2: Update Your CV & Cover Letter

If you’re going to be looking for a new legal job in the next 6 months, it’s important to ensure you have the right resources in hand. This could mean you take some extra time to update your CV and cover letter, focusing on adding your most recent achievements into the mix and learning what works in today’s job market when writing a CV or cover letter.

Speaking to a specialist legal recruiter will pay dividends here as not only will they be able to give you the inside track on the market and hiring activity, but they can also advise on the tangible elements of looking for a new role and how to craft a killer CV that will get you noticed.

It’s worth noting that your CV is only one of a number of formal documents you may need to present to a potential employer or recruitment consultant. Depending on your current role or the one(s) you are applying for, you may also need reference documentation, business portfolios, or presentations. So make sure to get in order sooner rather than later.

Step 3: Plan For Interviews Accordingly

If you successfully apply for a new role and receive an offer for an interview, you need to be mindful of how you approach this next step and its impact on your current role and place of work.

You could request an interview outside of office hours or over a lunchtime if the hiring manager or interviewee can accommodate. With the prolific rise in video interviewing (at least for stage one) this is more achievable than it once was.

Scheduling your interviews around your existing work hours will also ensure you can stay focused and productive when you’re on the job, to maintain a strong relationship with your existing employer. However, if you do need to book off annual leave in order to attend interviews, ensure you always abide by the rules set in place by your current employer regarding the notice required.

When you contact the hiring manager for the job you want to apply for, let them know you need to keep the process discrete. Ask them to only contact you on your personal phone and email (don’t use any business contact details). It might also be worth letting them know when you’re likely to be at work, so you can avoid any overlap.

If you have instructed a legal recruitment specialist to help with your job search, this discretion should come as standard – but it’s still worth communicating the best times (and methods) to get in touch with you about progress and next steps as you move through the process.

Step 4: Job Hunt on Your Own Time (and Devices)

If you want to maintain a good professional reputation in the legal space, it’s important to demonstrate commitment to every role you take. Searching for a job when you’re in the office, on company time, shows disrespect, and could scare off future employers.

Avoid the temptation to review new job postings when you’re in the office, or respond to messages from potential employers. If something needs to be addressed quickly, set time aside in your lunch hour, and get outside of the office so you can maintain your discretion.

Always make job-related calls away from the office, particularly if you’re scheduling an interview or need to ask questions about a new role and stay off company equipment. Remember, many businesses have access to tracking software to check which sites are being visited.

Step 5: Continue to Give Your All in Your Current Job

Commitment to your current role is crucial, and even if you’re tired of your current role, or unhappy in your position, it’s important to act professionally. Avoid any notable drop in performance and maintain your work ethic throughout this period. Not only will this reduce suspicion but will also leave your employer with a favourable impression of you long after you’ve left the firm.

Don’t allow yourself to “check out” and ‘coast’ performance-wise because you’re planning on going somewhere else. Preserve your reputation and prove yourself to be a fantastic employee. This will be particularly important if your future employers decide to contact your previous manager at a later date regarding a reference.

Find Your New Role the Right Way

Searching for a new legal role while you’re still employed can be a complex process. In any situation, finding the right job can take significant time and effort. However, the process becomes a lot more challenging when you’re trying to balance your existing employment with your career plans.

If you need help discretely searching for a new position, utilising the services of a recruitment agency will undoubtedly give you a head start as well as a competitive advantage.

Not only can they give you an assessment of the current job market for the roles you are looking for, but they will ensure that you are fully informed and in-the-know about the culture, vision, and values of the firms that you have in mind. And, when the time comes, can furnish you with a wealth of insight and advice on how to ace your interviews and provide further guidance to ensure you resign gracefully – ensuring you leave on a positive note, and your professional reputation within the legal community follows you as you move on.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals, and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. And, if you are currently employed, you can be assured of complete confidentiality, professionalism, and honesty throughout the process – as standard.

Call us on 01772 259 121 or get in touch with us here

 

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Take The Stress Out Of Your Legal Job Search: Use A Specialist Recruiter

  • November 1, 2023

The amount of stress that searching for the right role to advance one’s career can cause, is no secret to any legal professional. Time constraints, mounting case workloads and the resulting pressure to juggle work and personal commitments are just some of the struggles candidates often have to deal with. And that’s not even mentioning the rejection emails or calls jobseekers will inevitably have to face as part of the process, before beginning to make headway in their job search.

While a little stress can be useful for certain situations, high stress levels can quickly wear us down and drain our mental resources, robbing us of the energy, motivation and headspace we need to tackle daily challenges head-on. As many as 79% of workers around the UK have cited the source of their stress to be work-related this year, with 74% saying it has reached a level that has made them unable to cope.

Considering how demanding job-searching can be, having to deal with unbearable levels of stress is not exactly helpful when needing to be on your A-game to network effectively and make the best possible impression on prospective employers.

This is where the option of enlisting the help of a specialist recruiter would be a game-changer for legal candidates. Not only does it save you an inordinate amount of time, but it spares you the hassle you would otherwise have to contend with if you were job-hunting alone.

Here are just some of the many benefits you can gain from working with one:

A Time-Efficient Job Search

Many will be well aware of how daunting and time-consuming a job search can be, especially if you’re already employed and are trying to find a better role elsewhere. Being one of your most important resources as a legal professional, you stand to benefit greatly from utilising the services of a specialist recruiter as it significantly cuts down the time spent on scouring job boards and websites. Due to the vast network, connections and knowledge they possess of the industry, they are in the best position to find you a role that ticks all your boxes. As a result, what might have taken you months can easily be achieved in weeks or even days.

In some cases, consultants will already know in advance if a particular firm is actively on the hiring market before a vacancy is even posted. Leading firms often utilise agencies, because it’s a more efficient way for them to hire the right person. Rather than searching for opportunities that may not be visible online, you could save a considerable amount of time by working with an expert.

Valuable Market Insight & Access to Connections

While job boards can be a useful resource for identifying opportunities, firms will often opt to use their network and their recruitment company’s network to seek the right people for most fee-earner/niche roles, rather than advertising them online. The reason for this is that candidates who are right for these particular roles are often in demand and are either not on the market or are not actively seeking new employment opportunities. With a skills-short market currently making the fight for top legal talent more intense than ever, prospective employers are far more likely to rely on the help of a specialist legal recruiter to source the right candidate for their firm.

With a recruiter on-hand, you gain instant access to the information they hold about all relevant roles in the industry and current trends in the market. A good specialist recruiter will utilise the insight their network provides them to find the right fit for you, culture and skills-wise. By acting as a representative for both you and the firm, a specialist recruiter will facilitate the communication process, and ensure that the firm you are interested in is a good cultural fit for you.

Expert Guidance to Boost Interview Performance

Certainly, the most stressful part of searching for any new job is the dreaded interview stage which can be particularly daunting if it has been a while since your last interview. That’s where a specialist recruiter earns their keep, as they exist to make all parts of the transition from your current role to a new one as stress-free as possible. They are therefore always on-hand to help you prepare for the big day and offer career-specific guidance on how to approach your interview preparation accordingly.

As they are well-informed of the current hiring trends and practices adopted by employers, it is undoubtedly in your best interest to take onboard any advice they give regarding common and tricky interview questions, body language and even things like dress code and travel logistics.

They Will Negotiate the Best Deal for You

Getting an offer of employment for a role that you’ve long been in search for is half the battle; the other half is of course getting what you want (what you feel you’re worth) in terms of remuneration. Salary negotiation can often be a tricky and awkward conversation with a future employer, especially at such a sensitive stage of your relationship, and so it is best to let a legal recruiter handle such discourse. In addition to ensuring that you get the best possible deal when it comes to pay and benefits, they will also iron out other important parts of the deal such as notice periods, start dates and career development opportunities available to you in your new role.

Personalised Support – Your Success is Their Success

One of the biggest advantages of job-hunting with a specialist recruiter is the vested interest and understanding they will have of your particular needs on both a personal and professional level. What you’re looking for in an employer in terms of culture, values flexibility, role and ‘fit’ can be difficult to find and even articulate at times, especially as these are not always reflected in the job descriptions. This means candidates are often left to gauge where the best fit is for their career. Whereas by working with a legal recruiter they will not only have a firm grasp of what your priorities are but will also ensure they – and you – are well-sold to the firm in question.

It is therefore in their own best interest to be selective on your behalf with regard to vacancies; by choosing the most suitable roles for their candidates to maximize success, which will not only reduce the competition candidates face for each role, but also improve their chances of getting hired. Their success lies in their ability to see to it that you’re happy in your desired role as it means they are successful with their client – a win-win for everyone.

If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you. Contact us here or call the office on 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. personnel to Practice Managers.

If you are looking for a new legal position or just want to speak to a recruitment expert about the current market, call our team on 01772 259121 or click here to submit your CV.

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Bridging The Gap In A Skills Short Market For Law Firms

The legal industry is experiencing change at a remarkably rapid pace. The last few years have ushered in a transformative period that will come to define the future of the legal landscape in later years. Amongst the many developments we have seen emerge in the past few years, such as the gradual shift towards greater flexibility in the work life of legal professionals, the incorporation of AI technology into legal and hiring practices and the transition of the industry away from established traditional norms comes a particularly pertinent point of discussion – and contention – one that has (and will continue to) influenced how law firms will operate in years to come: The well-documented skills shortage experienced by law firms across the market.

It’s no secret to anyone keeping tabs on how the industry has fared since the pandemic from a hiring perspective, with redundancies, and a resulting candidate-led market just a few of many defining features of the post-covid era. Much has been written about its impact on business performance, and in particular, recruitment, as law firms large and small face a lot of difficulty today in acquiring the talent and expertise they need, due to a variety of factors at play.

Why is there a Skills Shortage?

Some of these said factors are simply a direct consequence of the pandemic, as businesses across the world of work have struggled to keep their head above water amidst a multitude of challenges such as economic turmoil and changing regulations, which has led to a sharp increase in client demand for legal services, one that law firms are buckling under the pressure to meet. Last year UK law firms were reported to have advertised over 2,300 jobs for London-based associates between January and November the year before – a whopping 131% increase on 2020’s numbers – but struggle to actually fill them.

And with the increasing effort to expand workforces to address this issue, comes an inevitable squabble for the top legal talent on the market, leading to stiff competition between law firms for the same candidates and consequently the difficulty in recruiting we see amongst businesses today. Chris Sullivan, head of Clifford Chance’s London private equity division echoed this sentiment: “The hires we are making are about growing our business to meet client demand…The aim is to grow our headcount and given the demand we’re seeing I wouldn’t put a cap on that. It is certainly a very competitive market for talent, there’s no question.”

Law firms are consequently plugging the gaps with an attempt to turn the heads of legal professionals with much-improved remuneration packages, including ‘retention bonuses’, offered to those wanting to leave for a rival firm, and a host of other benefits now known to be in high demand amongst candidates, such as flexible working arrangements. Such a shift from practices expected of legal employers in hiring points to another reason the fight for talent is so intense, and that is the changing needs and priorities of legal candidates.

Partly borne out of the restrictions necessitated by the pandemic, the idea of flexible working has quickly become a staple in the list of demands of candidates today, due to a greater need for better work-life balance in such turbulent periods and is now expected to be part of any benefits package worth considering from legal employers. Hybrid and remote working have been warmly welcomed amongst legal professionals, and any idea of returning to a type of culture that, according to a recent article in Bloomberg,  pushed so many to leave for the sake of their well-being is firmly rejected. The rising demand for other desirables such as development opportunities, and a real sense of purpose that provides lasting satisfaction beyond a handsome salary, makes meeting candidate expectations while fulfilling business obligations a real challenge for law firms, especially considering how averse the industry is in general to changing established practices.

Perhaps one of the biggest drivers of change in the industry today, and a big reason for the skills gap, is its movement towards digital integration and a technology-centric approach to business. The pressure of rising costs and shrinking budgets on firms across the sector has pushed many to embrace the value that digital technology holds in streamlining legal procedures, improving productivity, and bolstering efforts to comply with data protection regulations, giving rise to the need for lawyers who are digital-literate and capable of adding such expertise to their value as a professional. As the legal industry has always held fast to its very straight-and-narrow approach to cultivating legal talent in terms of culture and education, there is now a lack of ‘business of law talent’ in the skillset of legal professionals, with ‘practice’ narrowing as the ‘business of delivering legal services’ expands.

Where is the Gap?

Amongst the most desired hard skills missing in the repertoire of candidates, cloud computing and cybersecurity rank the highest, and unsurprisingly too, considering the level of efficiency (collaboration and cost-wise), flexibility, and scalability the former offers firms looking to keep pace with increasing client demand and adapt to changing workloads. Hand in hand with that comes the necessity of ensuring client data privacy and security can be maintained across cloud-based systems, (especially considering this is a sticking point with the use of such technology) explaining the high demand for competence in cybersecurity. With the world shifting towards a digital-oriented way of working over the last couple of years, the skills gap present in firms and general counsel in this area, is increasingly striking. A 2021 EY CEO Imperative Survey revealed that nearly two-thirds of respondents (which comprised of business leaders and senior legal officers) admitted that they lacked the data and technology required to respond to a data breach. Sixty-eight percent of General Counsels stated that they lacked access to accurate, real-time info on their legal entities, highlighting a real lack of confidence from GCs in their ability to handle increasingly complex corporate risk management.

With GDPR in the EU a big driver of the use of technology amongst firms, and GDPR regulations tightening the noose around businesses failing to comply, the need to ensure client data security, as well as competence in risk management, has never been more evident for employers active in the hiring market for legal talent.

However, a notable by-product of the industry’s sudden shift towards digital technology is the difficulty of younger candidates stepping into the profession during the post-pandemic era in building core soft skills essential for career success, leading to a soft skills gap in the today’s talent pool. Many will be well aware of how the divide in digital literacy has created multiple issues in building and maintaining relationships – personal or professional – over the last few years. As consultant and psychologist Kim Tasso eloquently put it, those who missed out on acquiring these key skills while the world grappled to cope with the impact of Covid and lockdown now find themselves playing catch-up.

So what exactly is missing when it comes to soft skills?

At the top of employers’ lists when looking at an ideal skillset for advancing employees is attention to detail according to research conducted by Business Name Generator, with more than a quarter of respondents within the legal industry stating it was the most important skill to have in the workplace. Self-motivation came in close second, with 22% highlighting the need for it in a new recruit’s repertoire, and this was further echoed by Kim Tasso in her piece on what soft skills legal professionals will need this year: “Set goals…and keep these goals front of mind. You will need to constantly check them against data and evidence to see if you are still on track; and know when it might be appropriate to revise or update them.”

Communication & Emotional Intelligence

One important skill, however, that atrophied in many due to the nature of the pandemic era is communication – both verbal and non-verbal. It’s no secret to any aspiring legal professional the importance of active listening, good conversational skills and confidence when interacting with peers, colleagues and clients, as it is a non-negotiable for key areas of the profession such as client and relationship management, effective networking, and conflict resolution. The ability to present cases and ideas persuasively, whether through a Zoom call or in front of hundreds of conference delegates, is indispensable for any legal professional who wants to be taken seriously.

Even more important for things like effective client management is the awareness of and ability to pick up non-verbal communication cues such as body language and facial expressions, particularly when cultural barriers are involved. As it comprises the vast majority of overall communication, it can and often is the difference between a closed deal with a client or a major career opportunity, and a failing endeavour to achieve lasting success on an individual and corporate level.

Another highly sought-after trait that comes hand-in-hand with, and actually facilitates excellent communication is a high EQ (emotional intelligence). As the single biggest predictor and strongest driver of leadership and excellence, it is also a must for employers to have among their legal teams in abundance. This can be broken down into several different skills: self-control (ability to understand one’s emotional triggers and manage one’s own emotions), empathy (ability and desire to recognise and understand the emotions of others), and the aforementioned self-awareness (ability to recognise our own emotions, and impact on others).

While these are already highly relevant and desirable, they are set to become even more so in future for employers as the industry continues embracing the value of digital and AI technology in streamlining processes and automating more mundane, non-complex tasks. With this highly likely to lead to a big jobs slash across the legal sector, ‘what will be left is the capacity to deal with human beings’, as Fuller stated in HBS’s publication Working Knowledge. Only the high value, complex or newest areas of law will need human input, among which will inevitably be client and relationship management, pointing to an even greater rise in demand for legal talent with a well-developed set of soft skills in the near future, something that Fuller also emphasises in the above publication: “Bosses will be hungry for good judgement, strong motivation and the ability to collaborate and articulate a vision.”

It is therefore concerning that, despite efforts to attract the candidates of today, businesses are failing to hire on a permanent basis, and are at risk of becoming oblivious to the gold mine of talent right beneath their feet due to the issue of inflexibility still present in the hiring practices of many firms today. It’s one thing for a skills gap to be present due to a lack of candidates available in the current talent pool with the desired kind of profile, and another thing entirely for such a profile to be the actual reason there is a perceived skills gap in the first place. According to a report from Harvard Business School and Accenture, there is a huge pool of skilled hidden workers shut out of employment by inflexible working requirements established by companies.

Just under a third of respondents of a survey conducted by Managing the Future of Work stated that they are only able to work part-time due to caregiving obligations, a reason highlighted as the ‘single biggest driver’ of hidden talent by Fuller in HBS’s publication. With 91% of that number being women – who are said to have better social skills in general – and this preference for flexible working set to only grow amongst candidates, the inability to show ample flexibility when it comes to working arrangements in the legal industry poses a major threat to the hiring efforts and overall success of firms unwilling to budge, especially considering what the future looks like from a business perspective.

In light of this, it is, although expected, prudent to ask oneself: How do employers combat the ongoing skills shortage to avoid a grim trajectory and futureproof their tomorrow? To answer that there are a few things you must consider:

Work-Life Balance: The Cornerstone of Individual – And Corporate Success

Starting with the most obvious but perhaps least straightforward aspect of the solution, the relaxing of stringent rules around working arrangements is very much the way to go for any law firm serious about standing out to today’s candidates. This isn’t just a matter of policy, but a cultural shift that should be embraced internally. With research increasingly indicating that employees able to achieve a better work-life balance are more productive, the priority a firm places on its workers’ wellbeing is evidently inextricably linked to the level of corporate success they see. This is the first step any business is advised to take when struggling to recruit, as it not only makes your accessibility to talent looking for a supportive culture far higher but also enables you to better facilitate their success.

What will determine the amount of value you get out of these decisions, however, is the prep work you do internally – that is, the commitment you show to building that kind of culture in your firm. Yes, what this will look like will differ slightly from individual to individual and it is multifaceted in nature but the most important rule to follow is communication with both your employees and leadership team. You should aim to have regular, frank and open conversations about what kind of culture you wish to establish and what every employee can do to help the business do that. This might be easier said than done, but there are steps you can take to make every candidate sure that you are an accommodating employer when it comes to culture.

This doesn’t just apply to working arrangements. Candidates are more discerning about where they work when it comes to career development and work culture, as this plays a large part in career satisfaction and work-life balance. Considering the nature of the problem at hand it is in your best interest to prioritise and invest in an employee development plan to upskill your workforce and ensure they are well-equipped to thrive in their roles in order to shield your business from the impact of a skills shortage and mitigate the problems it can cause down the line.

Setting Your Employer Brand Apart

Once these boxes have been ticked, the groundwork has been laid for your employer brand to shine. Taking a proactive approach to changing the culture and practices of your firm ensures it has the platform it needs to position the firm as one that values and invests in its workforce. In an age where the candidate experience is more important than ever, it’s imperative that you not only have an established employer value proposition but are also capable of communicating it effectively and convincingly to candidates. We break down how to build a winning employer brand in this guide here.

Your Personal Reservoir in a Talent Drought

The value that a specialist legal recruiter holds for firms running dry in their search for talent cannot be understated. With access to a wide pool of candidates, active or passive, a profound insight into current market trends and changes at every level, and a commitment to understanding the hiring needs of your firm, they are your ultimate ally in navigating a talent drought and staying competitive in a harsh climate. By simplifying what is often such an expensive and time-consuming process for hiring managers, they help to save your firm two of its most valuable resources, while ensuring you get the skills and the talent your business needs to thrive and excel.

That’s why our team at Clayton Legal are on hand – we take the stress and complications out of recruitment for your firm so that you can focus on what really matters. If you feel that the time has come to make an important hiring decision regarding your team, get in touch with us here.

Next Steps

If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you – especially if you have your heart set on a new challenge for the new year.

Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

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Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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Do You Need To Upskill To Supercharge Your Profile As A Legal Jobseeker?

  • October 29, 2023

The job market is evolving more rapidly than ever. The recent surge in the development and use of AI and digital technology has ushered in a highly competitive period that has seen a spike in demand for its incorporation in hiring practices and also to combat skills shortages gathering pace in certain sectors. Throw in a tumultuous economic background and it is clear that legal candidates today still find themselves having to navigate uncertain waters, in order to stay visible and attractive as a prospect to hirers. 

Nothing epitomises this more than the well-documented skills shortage widely seen across the legal industry today. A recent article in Fortune focused on this particular challenge being experienced across many sectors and is likely (according to the Future Of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum) to get worse before it gets better – referring to a ‘skills gap is so big that nearly half of workers will need to retrain this decade’. 

 And whilst employers are already feeling the impact and squeeze on their hiring and business objectives, employees too are well aware of the need to keep pace with the changing landscape and ensure their employability in the long-term. Upskilling and reskilling have become the talk of the town amongst legal professionals, but one thing that most commentators agree on the likelihood of a skills-based revolution, where certain soft skills are quickly rising in importance. 

While functional or hard skills are an ever-crucial skill area for legal professionals to develop, they are often given the lion share of attention, sometimes at the expense of some core soft skills that have proven to be crucial for career success. Regardless of whether you’re a fresh graduate or a seasoned professional, these are skills that will make the most difference in accelerating your career, as they equip you with the necessary qualities to help you manage your mind, communicate well consistently, and influence your team to improve their performance. 

This is particularly pertinent when discussing the future of work for legal professionals in the industry, as the role of AI and digital technology in streamlining processes, commoditising work and automating less complicated aspects of the job, is only set to increase going forward. In such a scenario what will be left for aspiring candidates to shield themselves from the resulting job slash is the chance to prove their worth in the high-value, complex, or newest areas of law, among which is the human-to-human interaction necessary for effective client and relationship management.  

Considering this increasingly becoming the general consensus around the impact of digital technology, it’s clear to see where the demand is going skill-wise. 

Soft Skills For Growth 

A highly desirable aspect of a legal professional’s skillset is the ability to manage themselves and their relationships with others through profound self-awareness, effective communication, willingness to listen and capacity take on feedback. And it isn’t just required to excel in your role, it is indispensable for personal and professional growth. 

Here at Clayton Legal, we assist candidates in developing their careers where we consistently share the softer skills that need to be developed. Below are the ones most important to build: 

Self-Awareness 

One of the key challenges when managing and developing a legal team is a lack of self-awareness from the employee.    

You will hear the term emotional intelligence shared in many circles. The term was defined as a person’s ability to manage their feelings and to express those feelings appropriately and effectively.  

(The original book on this topic by Daniel Goleman, is definitely worth a read).

Who has not come across a colleague in the business who has zero idea about their impact on others? A candidate once approached us looking for a new role because of the behaviour of a new manager in the business; yes, managers can lack self-awareness too.   

It appears that every morning the manager in question would appear with a sore head, grumbling and snapping at people. The individual had no idea how his behaviour affected the team.   

Self-awareness also covers motivation, empathy, self-regulation, and appropriate social skills.  

Communication Skills 

All professions include varied people with effective communication skills and some that don’t hold the ability to have a conversation. Summing up a procedure to employees with jargon-free lingo are all expected skills for someone to hold. However, talking over a team member in a meeting does not demonstrate communication excellence.   

A large part of being a great communicator is the ability to listen. We can all tell the difference when someone hears the words you are saying or when they are actively listening.   

As an experiment, notice how often people have their phones open during conversations or look over your shoulder at other people and what’s going on when speaking with you; worse, they sit on the edge of their seats waiting to interrupt.   

Active listeners, meanwhile, pay close attention to meeting presenters, offer up clarifying questions or responses, and refer back to notes in future discussions. They do not need things repeated to them because they heard them the first time, making active listeners respectful colleagues.  

Openness to Feedback 

This might sound like a different soft skill, yet a lack of openness to feedback often indicates an individual is stuck in a pattern and unwilling to learn.   

The ability to accept developmental feedback is critical for all of us; otherwise, how will we improve? Think about it; constructive feedback will help you do the best job possible when it comes to your role, and yet often, people take it personally and react defensively; when this happens, feedback is not heard.   

No one is ever perfect, no matter how long they have been in a role. Reflecting on this, when did you last ‘overreact’ to feedback?  

Growth Mindset 

Having a growth mindset leads to the ability to accept feedback. Individuals with a growth mindset see feedback as the gift that it is.   

Their mind is focused on what is possible rather than what is not. No matter what role, you will encounter roadblocks, disappointments, and other situations that might frustrate you. A soft skill critical to your ability to persevere is having a growth mindset.   

Dr Carol Dweck conducted the original work on this several years ago. Her book is well worth reading to identify if you have a growth or fixed mindset.   

For instance, someone with a growth mindset who did not achieve their billable target would look at this as an opportunity to double down and focus on what they could do differently in the next quarter.   

Whereas someone with a fixed mindset would see this differently, complaining that the target was too high, the clients they were working with were demanding, and the list of complaints goes on.  

Adaptability and Flexibility 

The last few years have been a challenge for many, yet certain employees have stood out above others; Two words describe them.   

  • Adaptable 
  • Flexible.  

 No matter your role in your business, the ability to adapt to change and a positive, flexible attitude about what is happening never go unnoticed.   

Many people have no idea how negative they can be when something does not go their way. Worse still, they become a classic mood hoover.   

Fact: Our business landscape is changing, and no matter what role you hold in an organisation, you have to be willing to adapt and change.

Analytical & Creative Thinking

Analytical and creative thinking are reported to be the two most important skills for employees in 2023 according to the Future of Jobs Report, with over 70% of businesses surveyed as part of the research, citing these as the most valued core skills. A purposeful increase in both of these cognitive skills clearly reflect the increasing importance of complex problem-solving in the workplace. 

Analytical thinking is the ability to approach complex problems or situations in a systematic and logical way, breaking them down into smaller components, analysing the data, identifying patterns and relationships, and using that information to draw conclusions and make informed decisions.  

It is of particular value in roles that require problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making skills such as data analysts, business analysts, financial analysts, engineers, scientists, strategists, and management consultants, among others.  

Employees who display these skills are deemed to make sound judgments and decisions, and solve problems effectively. Analytical thinking is also useful for identifying trends, opportunities, and potential risks in a business, which can help organisations to innovate and stay competitive.  

As a jobseeker, there are several ways you can highlight these skills during the process – starting with your CV; using relevant that demonstrate your skills here such as:

  • “data analysis”
  • “problem-solving”
  • “critical thinking”
  • “research”
  • “logic”
  • “strategic planning”
  • “quantitative analysis”

Simply put, if you can provide concrete examples of when you have applied analytical or creative thinking, all the better.  

In your interview, be prepared to demonstrate your skills and discuss specific examples of how you have used analytical thinking to solve problems or make decisions. You could even prepare a case study or work sample that showcases your analytical thinking skills. 

Technological Literacy

Technological literacy is also deemed to be one soft skill that is growing in prominence and importance across a variety of sectors and roles. However, it is not just about using technology for everyday tasks like sending emails or using social media. It also involves having a deeper understanding of the underlying concepts and principles of technology, as well as its societal, ethical, and environmental implications.  

In today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving technological landscape, technological literacy has become increasingly important in many industries and professions. Jobs in fields such as engineering, software development, digital marketing, and healthcare require a high level of technological literacy, as employees need to understand and use various types of software, hardware, and digital tools.  

Moreover, technological literacy is essential for individuals to participate fully in a rapidly changing society and workplace.  

Demonstrating technological literacy is relatively easy to do on your CV and during the interview process – although it is important to list those that are relevant for the job in question. It is a good idea to include specifics here such as level of qualification so a hiring manager can assess your exact competencies from the get go. Additionally, be prepared to talk about examples where you have used your skills to solve problems or improve processes. This is arguably where you will stand out as a candidate… focusing on the impact these skills have had in your previous roles. 

In Summary

Amongst the many developments we have seen emerge in the past few years, such as the gradual shift towards greater flexibility in the work life of legal professionals, the incorporation of AI technology into legal and hiring practices and the transition of the industry away from established traditional norms comes a particularly pertinent point of discussion – and contention – one that has (and will continue to) influenced how law firms will operate in years to come: The well-documented skills shortage experienced by law firms across the market.

Having an awareness of what these skills ‘are’ exactly is important – particularly if you are to be successful in your hunt for a new legal opportunity (and know the areas where you yourself may need to upskill).

Upskilling is more than just a buzz word doing the rounds – it is very much centred on the wider issues of skills shortages and ever-changing working conditions and environments that are affecting jobseekers and employers alike.And it seems like the focus on the importance of soft skills in giving you a competitive advantage (again, in your capacity as a jobseeker or employer) is not going away.

Simply put ,soft skills focus on developing a positive can-do attitude. A well-worn statement perhaps – yet developing abilities like this will help you navigate most things that are thrown your way while making you stand out as a potential new hire for a firm (as well as being areas to focus on if you are indeed in the hiring seat, and looking for a standout candidate to bring on board). 

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. personnel to Practice Managers.

If you are looking for a new legal position or just want to speak to a recruitment expert about the current market, call our team on 01772 259121 or click here to submit your CV.

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Why Now is The Time to Start Putting Your 2024 Plans Into Action

  • October 18, 2023

With the darker nights noticeably creeping in, and the shops already stocked with Christmas paraphernalia, the final push towards the end of the year is upon us. This last quarter is often a period where many businesses and individuals will be making firm plans for the following calendar year, setting budgets and agreeing business objectives. And for many, with an average three months’ notice period across the industry – consideration of the ‘c-word’ is also likely. Not ‘Christmas’ per se…but career – what it looks like and where it is heading in the new year.

The so-called mid-career career blues happen to everyone at some point or another  – and it can often be for a number of reasons…

You have outgrown the position

One of the most common reasons legal professionals cite as a reason to leave their current position is around progression – or more specifically, lack of opportunities at their current Firm. Often, a lateral move within the firm is one viable route that, whilst perhaps offering a similar overall remuneration package, does provide the individual with the chance to expand their skills and professional network. Quite often a lateral move can provide a revised career path that still gives that individual chance to develop and learn about other areas of that business, and in turn raises the status of that employee and their broader influence internally.

However, this is not always possible either due to the size or structure of the Firm in question, or because of the current practice area that individual operates in. If the role no longer provides opportunities for the growth you seek in your career and there isn’t an obvious path to promotion, chances are finding a new opportunity elsewhere may be the only option to further advance your career. Before making that leap, it is always time well spent to review the market for opportunities, particularly if this is the first time in a few years you find yourself looking for those greener pastures. Ensuring that the firms and roles you look at do offer clear paths for progression and advancement is key for ambitious individuals.

Recruitment agencies have a vested interest in understanding the sector in which you (and by extension, they) operate, and because of the trusted position that they have with Clients, they will undoubtedly be able to offer you market insight, practice-specific guidance as well as trends and activity they are experiencing in the recruitment cycle. It is always worth enlisting their help at an early stage to get that birds-eye view of market trends and movement, as well as the inside-track of Firms in your area.

You are looking for an increase in remuneration

If the driver for moving is monetary, then it goes without saying that the first step should be to explore the option of a pay review at your current firm first. Whilst few individuals relish the thought of having those perhaps awkward conversations around money, it is important to see where the land lies first, even if that is to sense check the Firm’s position ahead of a diarised salary review later in the year/early next year. It is important to head into such conversations realistically and professionally – can the Firm afford the figure you have in mind for example? Have you got clear reasons why the review is justified, based on performance perhaps or the value you have brought to the business? Building a strong business case here is important – as is knowing your value and worth in the wider market.

This brings us to the second point – researching your market value. Understanding the current average or better still, range of salaries for similar roles in the market is crucial, especially if conversations around a pay rise end without the desired resolution and your hand is forced to look elsewhere. Recruitment agencies undoubtedly add value here with live salary data and wider benefits packages on offer for active jobseekers.

However sometimes the only way to achieve your salary expectations is to talk with your feet and look at other opportunities in the market where they can be realised. It is a perhaps unfortunate reality that pay increases tend to be more significant upon a move (as opposed to an internal promotion) so doing your due diligence early on will pay dividends so you have a realistic view of what those next steps look like.

You are looking for more work/life balance

Long hours and demanding workloads within the legal profession are much documented (and prevalent even amongst those who work from home according to a recent article in The Law Gazette).

Whilst changing job roles may not necessarily negate all of these, the landscape of work has altered significantly following the aftermath of Covid, meaning that the likes of hybrid and home working models increased exponentially which for many has helped to strike a balance between work and home life.  Whilst this won’t be the case for everyone (and ongoing conversations about whether hybrid work arrangements should be abandoned altogether rumble on ) conversations around flexi-, agile-, home- and hybrid- are still taking centre-stage amongst jobseekers are legal job roles offering such work arrangements.

Conversations around the pros (and indeed cons) of flexible working arrangements is still ongoing – and there is a fine line to tread when sometimes homeworking leads to an ‘always on’ mentality. A recent article even looked at research highlighting a negative impact on wellbeing….

Nevertheless, there has never been a better time to have an open conversation with your Recruitment Consultant, or prospective employer about the ways in which they can support the balance you’re looking for.

There are many other reasons of course that trigger that early decision to start looking for new opportunities. The reasons may be complex, and numerous, yet it is often not a decision that is taken lightly. According to our own Salary Salary and Market Insights Report, other reasons include envisaged redundancy, conflict in the workplace, and down to a relocation. Most respondents we spoke to however (37%) said the decision came down to a desire to progress, upskill, and take on a new challenge.  Employee expectations around how, when, and where they work have changed – and as clients continue to compete for the best talent, arguably it has never been a better time to make the leap.

Next Steps

If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you – especially if you have your heart set on a new challenge for the new year.

Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

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