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Career Advice

Why job hopping could be good for your career

While job hopping used to be seen as a wholly negative trait, times and opinions have changed.

The rise of the locum lifestyle has certainly played a part and working in this way is considerably more respected than it previously was. The millennial generation has also contributed as younger professionals tend to stay in roles for considerably less time than their predecessors.

The main benefit you can gain from the new ‘gig economy’ is the range of diverse opportunities you could experience. It’s likely that you’ll still be operating for a firm in your chosen area of specialisation, but different practices will have different ways of doing things, different cultures and different partners. This means that you can benefit from experiencing a range of alternative approaches which can only aid your career development.

There’s also a much higher chance of finding the firm that is a good match for you. We are not going to pretend that there is a magic bullet where you find the legal practice that fits you like a glove but experiencing different practices means that you’ll at least be able to ascertain what you do and don’t like about certain employers. This will give you more confidence later in your career if you are looking for a new opportunity as you will know what to look for and what motivates you.

You can also significantly expand both your personal and professional networks. You will, rather obviously, get to know a lot more people from working at a range of firms and you could also earn more money from operating in this way.

That being said, you can’t take the increasingly positive view of locum work as an opportunity to storm through firms upsetting colleagues and partners wherever they go. Law is a close-knit profession and, if you are still working in your area of specialism, chances are that other firms will have seen your name before and will be aware of any reputation – good or bad - you may have built up. So while you may have to explain you reasons for choosing locum work when and if you decide you want a permanent role, if you can make a compelling argument, your new firm is likely to benefit from the skills you’ve gained.

Standing out from the crowd in the job application jungle – 5 Top Tips

Get the basics right.

Make sure that your cover letter/email and CV are all rigorously spell and grammar checked. It may sound obvious but it would shock you to find out how many people fail to do this.

Be concise.

The average hiring manager is busy and they do not want to be faced with a truncated version of War and Peace.

Don’t leave the best until last.

It is important to list your achievements first like an inverted pyramid. You should also look to include examples of when and how you have achieved something, rather than just saying you have experience of it.

Present the evidence.

Interview, make sure you can back up and validate what you are saying. If you have saved your employer thousands of pounds, for example, explain how you did it, rather than just saying you have done it. This is your opportunity to really sell yourself and, crucially, find out more about the company.

Give a reminder.

After the interview follow up with a quick note or phone call to thank the interviewer for their time.

Five tough interview questions and how to answer them

What one thing has given you the greatest sense of achievement?

Here the interviewer is trying to establish what really motivates you. Your answer should ideally be work-related, recent and contextual to the role. If the job involves a high degree of responsibility for others, think of an achievement in the people management area for example.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This is meant to test your ability to analyse yourself and others. Focus on three or four major strengths such as technical ability or communication skills and show how they have directly benefited past employers and could benefit the interviewer’s organisation. For weaknesses dress up a strength as a weakness, as in, “Sometimes I think I drive myself too hard to get the job done.”

Give me five adjectives that would describe you as a person

Keep them positive and relate them back to the job description. ‘Independent’, for example, may be fine if you are going to be working alone but might create some doubts if you need to operate in a closely-knit team.

What is the most difficult situation you have faced and how did you resolve it?

Pick on something recent and easy to explain - show how you analysed the problem quickly and clearly, how you acted decisively and show a positive outcome.

Why are you looking to change jobs?

Keep it positive. You are on the move because you relish new challenges, wish to take on more responsibility or want to develop your skills – not because you simply want more money or power!

And finally…. Remember that, no matter how they are phrased, all the questions posed to you in an interview boil down to one - “How would you fit into this firm and do the job better than any of the other people we are talking to?”

Five top tips for making it to partner

Not everyone wants to be a partner, but for many it’s the logical reward for years of study and hard work that comes with a commitment to the legal profession. Here are our top five tips for making partner:

Are you ready?

The days of ubiquitous pinstripe suits and regular rounds of golf have, largely, been consigned to the rubbish bin. Now, it’s more important than ever that partners justify their position and reward on a daily basis. And if you don’t have the track record to back your rise to partner then you might want to wait for a time when you do.

Are you with the right firm?

Working for, and being a partner at a firm are two very different experiences. The latter is a major financial, commercial and personal commitment so you need to consider whether your environment is right. Do you have complete faith in the firm, the direction its taking and its ability to gain and retain clients? Will you be able to get along with other partners on both a social and a business level? These are all questions best answered before you find yourself at the partnership table.

Plan, plan and plan again

Partnership will never just fall into your lap and you need to think through and implement a proper strategy that outlines a series of timed steps tailored to a specific firm, either your current one or one better attuned to your personal goals and drivers. This should allow you to arrive within the inner circle by a defined deadline.

Get and retain business

The modern lawyer will be judged as much on their business development skills as they are on their technical ones. A masterful understanding of Rylands v Fletcher or Donoghue v Stevenson won’t get you to the partnership table and even if it did it wouldn’t keep you there for long if you can’t bring in new business.

Play the game

Partnerships are political, so recognise this and act accordingly. That means you have to network, socialise, support and ultimately fit in. Remember that your potential partners will not only be thinking about how wonderful you are, but also whether you are the sort of individual they will be comfortable working with, potentially for the rest of their careers.

Top tips for dealing with stress at work

According to a recent study, lawyers believe they work in the most stressful profession of them all. So how can you develop resilience and manage your stress at work?

Manage your time proactively

Yes, this is easier said than done, particularly when ever more work is arriving on your desk. However, it can be useful to map out a plan for your day in rough terms that can be loosely followed. It’s particularly helpful for trying to factor in when you’ll do specific work, after all, we’re all too aware that public facing work often takes over the working day.

Avoid perfectionism

This might seem like a strange message, particularly when you’ve probably been trained to believe that your chances of success are over if every last piece of work isn’t completely perfect. However, unrealistic goal setting will only lead to unobtainable expectations and greater stress levels. Stop worrying about what you ‘could’ or ‘should’ have done and instead focus on doing your best in any given circumstance.

Do things you enjoy

It can be easy to neglect your interests outside of work but it’s crucial that you spend time cultivating your personal life. If you become consumed by work there’s a much greater chance that you’ll feel unfulfilled and less motivated to do your job as well as possible.

Ask for support

Given the pressure that many legal professionals feel they’re under it can be difficult to seek help. Asking for support doesn’t mean you’re any less capable, in fact it demonstrates that you are a responsible professional who recognises that stress can have an adverse effect of your