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Do I stay, or do I go? How to make the decision whether to stay in your current law job or leave

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

A new job brings with it new challenges and the opportunity to make a positive change. But what if you’re on the fence about leaving your current role? Deciding whether to stay in a job or to leave is a complex process. For many legal professionals there is a whole range of considerations to make, from skills and experience, work-life balance and family commitments, to future career ambitions and meeting your goals.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, the choice has to be an individual one that suits you. That’s why we’ve put together this blog to walk you through important considerations and hopefully make the decision a little easier for you.  

Weigh up your options

If the possibility of leaving your position is on your mind, it’s useful to start by weighing up your options. The first step is to consider your job role and the firm generally, and to look at all of the positives, followed by all of the negatives. Does it meet your career ambitions, are you achieving your own goals of where you’d like to be now or in the future? When you compare the two lists side by side, does one significantly outweigh the other or is there not much in it?

The next step is to think about your skills and experience: what value can you add? Hands-on experience is a real asset to any firm, so look for opportunities where your work experience could match up with demand. For example, it was announced earlier this year that the whiplash reforms have been pushed back a year to 2020, leading to an increase in personal injury jobs – ideal if that’s your background.

Research what’s out there, industry trends and how your skill set could fit that. Don’t forget about skills that aren’t strictly related to the work either. Things such as managerial experience, a second language, or knowledge of a particular sector can all be valuable to a potential employer, so make sure you highlight these aspects too. Many job seekers also find it beneficial to have a chat with a recruitment consultant as well as doing their own research. 

The end of the year; time for a change? 

If the thought of finding a new job is playing on your mind, the start of a new year is the ideal time to make a change. According to HR Magazine, January is the most likely time for employees to start a new job, with nearly a fifth of people (18%) saying that it’s the most popular time to move. If you’re making plans for the future of your career, a new year and a fresh start can give you the impetus to bring the plan into action. 

Important considerations 

When weighing up whether to leave your job or to stay, there are considerations to make that will impact your decision. One of the most common factors that crop up for legal professionals is the issue of work-life balance. Long hours can put a strain on your work as well as home life and can prove challenging, especially if there are partners or children to consider. If you feel that the firm’s culture isn’t supportive of you striking the right balance it can cause feelings of frustration and resentment to creep in, which will make you unhappy in the long term. 

As well as the big issues, smaller factors add up and feed into your decision. Some of the most important considerations when deciding to stay or go are around ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors.

Push factors are exactly as they sound – things that make you want to look elsewhere. They might include:

  • Doesn’t meet with your career ambitions and goals.
  • Work life balance – are you able to achieve your life goals?
  • Feeling that the work isn’t suited to you, that you are not challenged by it, or that the workload is simply too much or too little.
  • Disagreeing with the overall direction of the firm.
  • Is the firm growing, or does it feel like it’s staid? 
  • The general company culture doesn’t fit with your values. 

Pull factors are things that draw you to a particular job role or company. These might include: 

  • Career prospects – is there room for promotion within the firm?
  • Do they encourage people to learn and develop their skills and experience?
  • Location – would a move mean a shorter commute, for example? 
  • Salary – money can be a powerful motivator and a higher salary can be an attractive pull for many people.
  • Benefits – the right benefits package that appeals to you can be very appealing and can give an indication as to how the firm treats their staff.
  • Will a move to the new firm help fulfil your own career plan?

How a recruitment agency can help you decide

A legal recruitment consultant can assist job seekers in a number of ways:

  • Overview of the market: consultants are in constant communication with law firms and are well versed in what the market looks like currently. Having a confidential discussion with a legal recruitment consultant will give you a good idea of what’s out there and what real employers are looking for.
  • A fresh perspective: having knowledge of what firms are looking for can be helpful for you, as consultants can encourage you to emphasise skills that you might not have known were sought after. They can also suggest roles that you may have otherwise overlooked, giving you a better chance at finding the job role you’re looking for, and hunt out new career opportunities that you might not otherwise have access to.
  • Feedback and insight: any legal recruiter worth their salt will have developed good relationships with their clients over time. They can ask employers for feedback, which candidates can sometimes feel shy or awkward about asking for. This gives you useful insight into how you can improve your performance next time. 

Decision time

When you’ve weighed up your options, thought about whether the timing is right and considered all of the various push and pull factors, it’s time to make a decision. Your recruitment consultant can listen to your goals, offer words of wisdom and make suggestions. Ultimately, however, they cannot decide which job is right for you – only you can make the decision to stay in or leave a job. 

So if you’re feeling a little unsure about what to do, perhaps increasing your awareness of what’s out there will help you decide. Our specialist legal recruitment consultants would be happy to talk through your options – why not give us a call? We’re on 01772 259 121 and would be pleased to hear from you, alternatively you can look at our vacancies online.

You may also find our last blog: How to tell whether your job is going well or not, useful in helping you evaluate what you’d like to do.

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