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Post-Holiday Blues or Mid-Career Crisis – Recognising The Signs

With the world of work ever increasing in its demands for maximum professional efficacy today,  finding ample time to disconnect from one’s work life and embrace the moments that allow us to stay committed to our personal needs as we are to career aspirations has become increasingly difficult.

As we strive for balance between professional demands and personal well-being, navigating the digital age’s relentless ‘grind culture’ continues to present its own set of challenges. The allure of constant connectivity, fuelled by productivity apps and remote work arrangements, often makes it difficult to truly switch off, and this is particularly true during holidays or extended breaks from work.

Much is written about how to stay disconnected while on holiday due to this – not least as the pandemic is cited as kick-starting  this hustle mentality. And, whilst Physicians and academics alike have rightly focused on practices that can help holidaymakers work through their stress, and focus on the impact of burnout – inevitably, this downtime may in fact focus your attention on your more general career path, future goals and aspirations, and whether these are on track.

In fact, it was found from a survey conducted on behalf of Hotel Indigo by YouGov that the majority of global travellers (63%) end up making major life decisions after travelling, including (figuratively and literally) career-changing ones.  

 Whilst a case of post-holiday blues is a common occurrence when returning from a holiday – especially if such quality time with friends and family is a rare commodity – it becomes tricky, when career comes into the picture, to tell the difference between a standard case of short-term sadness and a real need to refocus and reassess one’s legal career. 

 

A Temporary Slump?

If you find that your reservations about returning to work stem from a desire to enjoy the fun and freedom the holiday brought for a little longer, then chances are your post-holiday blues are just that. They aren’t exclusive to holiday periods either – as it is also a common thing to experience during the festive season and after any long break from work. Temporary, short-lived, and incredibly common, they have only become a more intriguing phenomenon over time, with a 100% increase in searches for how to beat the post-holiday blues evident over the past 12 months.  

The good news though, is that if all is well behind the scenes at the office, this sense of foreboding will disappear given enough time. 

If, however, you remain unsure of where your heart really lies, there are always worthwhile steps to take periodically in your career to assess if you are still on the right track – and doing so after a holiday or extended break, can certainly help to assess where things stand:  

 

Setting Achievable Goals  

A good starting point is to begin setting actionable and achievable targets as part of your preparation for your return to work. The point of this exercise is to get the ball rolling mentally (and potentially physically) towards your present goals, and make that transition back to your work life easier with a clearer path of progression. In this regard, a timely review of your career plan and where you were heading goal-wise before the holidays can prove to be a great aid.

If for example, a promotion was possibly on the cards or even a worthwhile pursuit, then begin mapping out a step-by-step plan of how you intend to show your employers you are the candidate to consider. Not only does this give a sense of empowerment and renewed resolve that makes returning into the thick of it easier, but it also keeps any negative or unhelpful post-holiday-borne thoughts at bay.   

It should also be said on this note that working out where you are and where you are heading in your legal career isn’t just something to do when you’re fresh out of college or upon qualification. The best industry leaders regularly conduct this sense-check of their business objectives and strategies based on changing priorities, constant evaluations of the marketplace, and a growing understanding of their sector.  

The economic and socio-political backdrop may also influence career planning, as well as other more-permanent ‘trends’ such as a seismic shift towards flexible, home, and remote working patterns that have meant people are reassessing how (and where) they work too. Finding time (whether that’s on your holiday or when you’re back at your desk) is vital to put a stake in the ground and take stock of the real reasons why you may be feeling discontentment. 

 

A Mental Reset

One of the hardest things about accepting the inevitable when returning to work from a holiday is what exactly you dread returning to, and this is sometimes what people mean when they say it is difficult to snap out of the constant reminiscing about their time off. A busy inbox, a diary full of meetings, and case files or projects to pick back up and run with as part of a busy law firm is not exactly the ‘welcome back’ one would appreciate upon their return – hence why the reluctance to carry on with work life is so much stronger than what you’d usually expect.   

 A good way to get around this issue is to focus on what you enjoy about your job instead. These may be the more technical or social aspects of the role or even the banter that takes place between you and your colleagues around the office. Whatever it may be, it can help to temper any rising fears about the workload you are expecting to come back to. 

 If said fears however stem from a real overload of work, and are not outside the norm of what you consider a usual day on the job, then begin looking at how you can cut down on your work hours or workload, and talk it out with a sit-down with your manager. It is important that you do not procrastinate on this step or write it off as unrealistic due to the expectations placed on you within your role – a lack of work-life balance will often manifest itself as a deep sense of dread as your return date approaches and should be treated as a matter of priority. 

 

Preparing For Your Return 

Where possible, a ‘buffer day’ in between your holiday ending and the next working day is a sound technique to catch up on emails, get a sense of what the week ahead is likely to entail, and to manage your diary effectively before you hit the office or turn your laptop on.  

Create a to-do list and prioritise tasks based on urgency and importance. This will help you focus on what needs to be done first and prevent feeling overwhelmed.  

Even creating a little time to physically unpack, rest, and mentally prepare for the return to the office can help during this transition and (hopefully) get you back on track. 

 

Just the Holiday Blues?…Or Something Deeper? 

 As the holiday ends and work looms, it’s natural to feel drained and apprehensive. But these feelings don’t necessarily signify dissatisfaction with one’s job. Holidays and time away offer a break from work stress, and readjusting to reality after such freedom can be tough for anyone. However, such feelings tend to fade with time and if any dissatisfaction with your work or job continues to persist, then it may signal deeper issues that are at play. If you find yourself consistently unhappy at the thought of returning to work, despite exhausting the strategies outlined above, then ask yourself the following question: 

 Are your concerns connected to your holiday at all – or is the unhappiness connected to the job itself? 

 As the question above implies, if your real problem with returning to work stems from struggles you often face within the workplace, whether that be a difficult manager, a lack of fulfilment, or certain tasks you dread having to do then a change of scenery is due – professionally speaking of course. While there are certainly less-than-desirable aspects of our jobs we all have to tolerate to some degree, none should lead to a brewing sense of dread at the thought of coming back to work. 

 Another good way to discern if this kind of change is what you really need is to look at what your career plan review has revealed about your ambitions, progress and satisfaction with work-life overall. Remember why you chose the role in the first place and whether reality is currently matching up with expectations when it comes to getting closer to your career goals. It will direct your attention towards the questions that matter most regarding your work life: 

  • Do you have a good working relationship with your colleagues and managers? 
  • Do you fit in with your company’s culture?
  • Is your remuneration and benefits package where it needs to be (and fair for your work and achievements)? 

If the answers to the above are a resounding ‘no’, then it’s a sign some big career decisions are going to have to be made. 

 

Time For A Career Change? 

If after giving it a good deal of thought, you find that post-holiday blues really aren’t the cause of your reluctance to return to the office, then you have some options on the table. The first is to have a sit-down with your manager regarding what can be done to improve the quality of your work life, whether that be by adjusting working hours, introducing some degree of flexibility into your role or reducing workload. 

If you can’t see a way to improve your working life, or if you are hitting the proverbial dead end when raising any issues or concerns with your current employer, seeking a new role may be the viable option to ensure your career path stays on track 

 The first step, of course, is to decide whether to go it alone and spend time researching opportunities in the market, your region, and your practice area and apply to vacancies advertised. 

 The alternative is to enlist the help of a reputable legal recruitment specialist who will search the market on your behalf, and present you with (often exclusive) roles that are designed to be the absolute best ‘fit’ for you and your requirements from your next employer. 

 

In Conclusion 

 Getting the work-life balance right is key to general happiness and satisfaction both in your role as a legal professional, and as an individual. Holidays – or more specifically, time away from work plays a huge part in this for both your mental and physical health, and finding time to switch off completely from the day job will only help you be more focused upon your return. 

 Taking time off from work can give you the space you need to learn about yourself, your passions, your interests, and your career – however much you are adamant that the complete switch-off will be just that. And should the holiday blues take hold at any point in the year after a lengthy break, recognising when it is what it looks like and when it may be something more is key. 

 

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 returning from holiday and dreading the working week ahead, or more generally need a new challenge or opportunity, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Posted By

Laura Lissett

Marketing Consultant

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The Impact of Personal Branding as a Legal Professional

 In the competitive landscape of the legal industry, understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and unique qualities is fundamental to individual success – whether you are looking at continued success and promotions in your current role, or are indeed starting to think about new opportunities in the market.  

For the latter, merely recognising these attributes isn’t enough; it’s about strategically leveraging them to enhance your professional profile and effectively communicate your value proposition to potential employers. In today’s evolving job market, cultivating a compelling personal brand is indispensable for legal professionals at any career stage. It serves as a powerful tool, not only in opening doors of opportunity but also in signalling a robust self-awareness, expertise, and dedication. A well-crafted personal brand doesn’t just highlight your potential for success; it embodies it, making you a natural choice for career advancement and recognition within the legal community. 

As accurately put by legal news publisher Legal Desire, a cultivated and well-honed personal brand is also needed to stand out in ‘the sea of legal knowledge’ – in order to give you a competitive leg-up, particularly when it comes to client acquisition, business development, and influencing stakeholders. Put simply, it can help to elevate your professional standing, gain trust and build a positive reputation within your own firm and wider network, a feat that will almost certainly serve you well in your longer-term career ambitions.   

With this in mind, we’ve outlined the key strategies you need to be implementing when looking to build a successful personal brand as a legal professional.  

  

Smarten Up Your Online Presence  

Nothing diminishes professional influence as much as an unprofessional online presence and any aiming to be taken seriously must first prove that they are deserving of such respect- whether that be on a professional platform or otherwise. Hence, due diligence must be conducted to ensure your digital footprint is tidy. Any rowdy Facebook pictures or LinkedIn interactions must be managed – either by being exceedingly careful with your what kind of content you decide to engage with, careful management of your privacy settings, using an anonymous profile name or getting rid of certain social channels altogether.  

It can also be useful to conduct an audit of your online presence through a quick Google search of yourself to find out if any damage control needs to be done on anything that could be viewed as unprofessional by senior leaders at your firm.  

 Replace any unsuitable pictures with well-taken, professional headshots and update your LinkedIn profile, so that it accurately reflects your values, ambitions and portrays exactly what you would want those in your network thinking about you. LinkedIn has evolved in more recent years, but is arguably still the channel where professionals converse, collaborate, and network – plus it can also be seen as your online CV. So, finding time to make sure it is on point is well-spent.  You could also join any relevant online groups or forums that might prove beneficial career-wise. If you have quite a bit to say about your professional credibility, you can let your achievements and personal interests do the talking for you on an online portfolio.  

Make Time To Network 

Spend as much time as you can networking with fellow competent and respected legal professionals in your field; the more connections you build with relevant people in your field, the more your reputation will grow. If you feel you lack the confidence to reach out, know you’re not alone – a lack of confidence when networking – whether face-to-face or virtually – is common – whatever profession you are in, but it is certainly a skill worth honing as the benefits far outweigh the perceived risk that any initial feeling of awkwardness or anxiety might project. Being as visible as possible in situations where you are surrounded by individuals equally passionate about something that resonates with you on a personal level or are leaders in your area of expertise, will significantly strengthen the potency of your personal brand and others’ perception of you – so do take advantage of such opportunities that come your way.  

Find Your Voice 

Whilst it may very much depend on your employer as to how comfortable they are with you posting on social media, utilising your knowledge and expertise in your practice area to create valuable, consistent content will go a step further in cementing your reputation and establishing a strong sense of thought-leadership in your brand. You may choose to do this in the form of a blog, a regular LinkedIn newsletter, or simply be an active ‘voice’ in online discussions around topics that interest you – in a professional sense of course (It goes without saying that you want to be mindful of jumping into any particularly controversial topics). 

Digital agency owner, Lara Acosta, writing recently for Forbes talks candidly about the various strategies she employed to grow an engaged following of 55k individuals on LinkedIn, stating that contrary to popular belief, it is not synonymous with ‘oversharing’. Rather, it involves looking at the six main components of content marketing: inspire, entertain, educate, promote, empower and validate – and choose to stick to one or several of those. This aspect of personal branding is very much focused on the relationship-building element; being ‘seen’, adding value, and then being discovered by association – to provide tangible benefit to your professional development or your firm’s growth plans for its business.   

Increase Your Value Through Continued Education 

One of the most important things to bear in mind regarding your personal brand is its continual growth. As the industry undergoes a constant evolution propelled by new technologies and emerging trends, it is becoming increasingly incumbent on legal professionals to proactively anticipate and adapt to these shifts to distinguish themselves in the profession.  

A continued commitment to education and staying abreast of current trends will ensure your personal brand maintains its relevance, no matter what direction the wind blows. This may involve honing soft skills like teamwork and communication, as well as periodically evaluating the currency of your technical expertise.  

A helpful approach to staying on course is to periodically compare your CV with job listings relevant to your interests. This allows you to observe any evolving requirements within those specifications. For example, many firms now seek legal professionals with specialised knowledge and a keen understanding of their clients’ businesses. An employee (or potential candidate) who is always on the lookout for and actively participates in activities that build networks and networking skills, will add significant value to their professional profile compared to those who show little interest in doing so.   

Ask Where You Need Development 

Sometimes, there might be a behaviour or skill gap you exhibit that is barring your way to promotion, and yet you may not even be aware of it. For example, you might be skilled in managing multiple caseloads as a commercial property solicitor, you may find yourself lacking the essential interpersonal skills necessary to effectively interview, advise or negotiate with clients or other professionals to secure agreed objectives.  

It’s also possible that the management in the business may be oblivious to your aspirations for promotion simply because you haven’t communicated it to them. Therefore you are better off being as clear about it as soon as possible, and so when the opportunity presents itself (perhaps at your next performance review) – take some time to discuss your goals and ambitions with them, bearing in mind that you make sure you ask what they believe you could work on to achieve your goals. Embrace all feedback – no matter how uncomfortable – and then begin outlining a step-by-step plan to make any necessary changes. In doing this, your manager will be very clear on your ambitions and will be able to advise on the steps necessary to help you get closer to your your stated goals.  

Building Trust: Harnessing Social Proof 

Leveraging social proof and testimonials is crucial for establishing credibility and trust within your industry – whether thats from clients you have worked with, or colleagues and managers that can sing your praises. By actively collecting testimonials, endorsements, and reviews from satisfied clients, colleagues, and industry peers, you can demonstrate the value and quality of your work. Plus, showcasing social proof of your expertise and accomplishments through case studies, success stories, awards, certifications, and media mentions further solidifies your reputation as a trusted authority in your field. These testimonials and examples of your achievements serve as powerful validation of your skills and capabilities, helping to attract new clients, opportunities, and partnerships while reinforcing your personal brand’s credibility. LinkedIn makes it easy to request endorsements, as well as display these on your personal profile. 

 

The potential that lies in a well-built personal brand is immense and the only limits to it are really your own imagination and willingness to grow. We hope these strategies have given you some food for thought and perhaps set you on the right path toward achieving your career goals.  

 

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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Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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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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The Boomerang Dilemma: Is the Reward Worth the Risk?

If you have started the new year with a feeling of discontent with your current legal role, you may have already started to consider what those crucial next steps look like.

At this crossroads, there are a number of options available, but crucially they boil down to two choices.

 

1. Speak up and express your unhappiness with your current employer. Depending on the root cause, it may be something that can be addressed and overcome or worked through. There may be a lateral move internally for example that would be worth considering, or a review of your working arrangements.

2. Consider other opportunities in the market. Whilst general hiring trends indicated a dip in the sector in 2023, vacancies were by and large still above pre-pandemic levels, and there is most certainly a wide range of roles available to those looking at pastures anew.

If you have found yourself in the second category, either by proxy, if all elements have been explored in option 1, or you feel it is simply the right ‘time’ there is also another route available that has seemed to gain momentum in the last 12 months – returning to an ex-employer.

The Boomerang Phenomenon

If you have ever considered the possibility of returning to a former employer, you’re not alone. Welcome to the intriguing concept of “boomerang hires” – a phenomenon that is reshaping the way we view career trajectories – and one that has gained popularity in recent months.

As the term coined implies, put simply it means returning or circling back to a previous workplace – whether that’s because you are seeking a fresh start somewhere else, or are aiming to rediscover a company culture that you once thrived in.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, research has shown that boomeranging was previously quite rare. However, more recent studies have found that across a wide range of industries, nearly 20% of workers who quit their jobs during the pandemic have since returned to their old employers.

These boomerang individuals present a big opportunity for law firms who are starting to look at this option as a strategic recruitment tool, and also present a solution to the industry-wide skills shortage that continues to be a challenge for firms in the hiring market today.

(It also consequently presents a major risk with respect to retention, as new hires may be increasingly liable to boomerang back to their previous organisations.)

As far as jobseekers go, however, as with any move, there are obvious benefits as well as challenges to consider >>>

Familiar Territory

Perhaps boomeranging’s biggest selling point is the familiarity it offers. Starting a new job is so often filled with uncertainty around things like fitting in, making a good first impression, and adapting to a new firm culture, all of which can slow down that bedding-in process and affect performance in those first crucial weeks on the job, especially if it’s one very different to what the norm used to be.

Making a return to familiar territory expedites this acclimatisation period, as not only is there far less of a learning curve skill-wise during the onboarding process compared to your first time as a new starter, but the knowledge and understanding you have of the business’s ways of working and dynamics helps to bypass many of the above challenges and quickly hit the ground running.

Refreshed Perspective

Career growth often entails exploring different opportunities and gaining diverse experiences and at times a step back may be needed in order to take a leap forward. Some employees leave their previous employers in search of better prospects in their line of work, only to realise that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and consequently, return with not only a refreshed perspective but also a great deal of experience and know-how their previous employer can greatly benefit from, particularly if they joined a competitor.

This puts returning employees in a great position when it comes to career prospects, particularly if the relationship between both parties pre-departure was built on mutual respect and as a result, they are better placed to get a job offer that reflects their value to the hiring firm in the form of a higher position or opportunities for progression.

When to Think Twice…

It is crucial to remember, however, that these benefits are very much dependent on the kind of firm and working environment you are returning to. If the reasons for your initial departure centre around an unhealthy company culture, a lack of growth opportunities, flexibility or limited upward mobility, returning by no means guarantees or even promises any significant changes. Some firms are resistant to change, and if the reasons that prompted you to leave remain unaddressed, chances are you will be facing the same challenges upon your return. Before deciding to boomerang, it’s imperative you assess whether your ex-employer has taken steps to improve the aspects that initially led to your departure – or whether you have overcome those reasons yourself.

Salary Growth Limitations

One of the most likely reasons a move back to a previous employer is ever on the cards is the prospect of salary growth and improved compensation. As discussed earlier, it is one legal professionals can often feel more entitled to considering the skills, knowledge and experience they are bringing with them upon their return and certainly now more than ever in the current market, with the average salary increase for job hoppers higher (14.8%) found to be higher than those of professionals that stayed put (2-4%). However, a word of warning here – as a decision to boomerang based on salary incentives alone is an ill-advised one. Boomerang employees who expect their salary to match the increase they may have achieved after leaving may face disappointment, as employers will be hiring a lot more for fit rather than solely skill and will see this strategy coming from a mile away. There’s also the fact that even if you do get the salary increase you’re looking for, it may turn out to be the only silver lining in your move back if you happen to be returning to colleagues unhappy with the circumstances around which you and your employer parted ways.

Water Under the Bridge

Another note to consider is how and under what circumstances you left your previous employer. Was this on good terms?  This is a key thing to take into consideration when exploring the idea of returning to a previous employer, as that may dictate the terms of your relationship with present employees should you decide to boomerang. Remember that it is not only old relationships you will be returning to when you do, but also the impression you left on colleagues with your exit. With any luck you will have resigned gracefully, so a return back to the fold will be seamless – and welcome.

This also swings both ways. If feelings of bitterness or uncertainty are present due to redundancy or parting on bad terms, then it can be difficult to turn over a new leaf without harbouring a grudge or even a sense of guilt, especially if your departure was recent. According to certified life and career coach Emily Liou, a good way to determine if boomeranging is the best decision is to consider the following:

  • If your return is driven by ego, i.e. a desire to prove a point that they should’ve never let you go.
  • If there is a strong sense of scepticism regarding the integrity of the management.
  • If there is a loss of respect for the employer due to how previous layoffs were handled.

If the answer is ‘yes’ to one or all of these, it is probably not the best move to return.

Context, however, is always key no matter what way you look at a dilemma of this nature as another angle worth considering is the reason for your exit if you were laid off. If such reasons are economic and the departure was handled with respect and sensitivity, then yes, a move back can possibly be on the cards – if it is in line with present career aspirations.

Keeping Career Goals on Track

Perhaps the most important thing to consider of all is where a possible return is going to take you career-wise. Judging by where you are at present in your legal career, will it bring an upward trajectory to your career growth in the next few years is this more of a lateral move?

Whatever your reasons for or against a move back, remember that your future career goals and objectives should take absolute precedence in your decision-making and should be the biggest driver of any desire to move roles, or indeed, boomerang. T

To this end, a regular check-in and period of self-reflection regarding your progress is paramount. Your vision for your development as a professional, and the path to get you there should always be clear and if it isn’t then a snapshot of what it currently looks like it is in order. Our simple checklist can help to identify where that gap between aspirations and reality is and help you get a sense-check of your present objectives, so that you make the best decision for your career, whether that be a boomerang move or otherwise.

Unsure of Which Direction to Take?

If you’re stood at those crossroads and find that you need more guidance than a simple checklist can provide, and bit of expert advice to make those next few steps in the right direction can be hugely valuable.

At Clayton Legal, we work closely with hundreds of legal professionals who are either actively searching for a new opportunity in the market, as well as those who aren’t quite at that juncture yet.

We don’t believe in recommending roles that aren’t a good fit for your skills or aspirations, and will always provide an honest (and impartial) service which means putting ALL options on the table so that you have all bases covered.

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 – whether that’s on a contingency or retained basis.

Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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The Importance of Networking (and Casting That Net Wide)

  • January 8, 2024

Networking doesn’t necessarily come easy to everyone, and sometimes even the thought of it can be met with apprehension or worse, sheer anxiety when placed in a situation that can be emotionally or mentally draining.

That being said, investing time to hone your skills will pay dividends in the long run, especially in today’s highly competitive legal landscape where networking will not only help you to expand your client base but also provide opportunities for mentorship, career growth, and collaboration.

As an essential skill, networking has huge potential to open up new opportunities for aspiring legal professionals and play a major part in their career success. And, whilst it’s a given that not everyone is comfortable networking, all lawyers should at least be competent if they want their skills to advance. You might be worried about what to say, or how to introduce yourself to new people, especially if you’re surrounded by reputable professionals, but, in reality, it’s relatively easy to become a pro with a little bit of extra practice. Here are some key tips to keep in mind.

Seek Guidance from a Fellow Professional  

Consider who you know to be an impressive networker and could provide you with some helpful advice on how to approach it to form professional bonds. This could be a family member or friend, colleague or even someone from your time at university or law school. At the very least, they are likely to let you bounce some ideas off them which will enable you to sharpen and hone your skills.

Be proactive

Waiting for networking opportunities to come your way won’t yield significant results – you need to be proactive. Take the initiative to attend industry events, seminars, conferences, and bar association meetings. Through your employment at a law firm, you will no doubt have exposure, and be invited to join more formal legal networking events. However, do seek out other associations that can equally provide fantastic opportunities to widen the net in your professional network. As a newly qualified lawyer, there are Junior Lawyers Divisions set up locally and regionally, as well as Trainee Solicitor Groups for those yet to qualify. These will give you a great foundation and springboard to networking in usually informal settings, yet still add a huge amount of value to those starting out in their legal career.

Always Come Prepared

Perhaps an old-school networking method, but still an effective one, having a business card on hand can be extremely useful when actively networking with legal professionals, and even more so in the non-professional conversations you have on a daily basis that could give rise to networking opportunities. When they come your way, you want to have a way of capitalising on them. This leads to an even more important factor in networking – having an ‘Always On’ mindset is crucial if you want to do this as effectively as possible. While you don’t need to shoehorn your career passion into every interaction, looking at networking this way can help you improve your social skills in these lower-risk’ situations and build confidence for the bigger conversations you might have with employers or reputable professionals down the line.

When it comes to preparation in the more conventional sense, a set of simple but clear pointers is your best friend, no matter the size or type of network event you are attending. As these events are ultimately about getting you in front of, and eventually front of mind of other like-minded legal professionals, it is essential that on the day you are confident in your ability to navigate the most common social scenarios you find yourself in.

Set Realistic Targets

This starts with going in with realistic expectations about your interactions at the event. Under no circumstance should you be expecting yourself to speak to the majority of people at any event, whether that be an event of 50 or 500. Consider your reasons for being there in the first place. Are you looking for new commercial opportunities or are you perhaps lining up your potential next employer? This will help you narrow down the scope of your search for individuals to speak with to a select few targets, and make planning for those conversations far easier and consequently more productive.

Your next step should then be to ensure you have a few pointers in mind about said conversations, how to begin them and keep them going. A simple but firm handshake and a brief introduction of yourself, your work and what you wish to speak about, before asking them about theirs, should be enough. Avoid kicking things off by firing questions at them as it disregards the other person’s involvement in the conversation and is a quick way to get them uncomfortable with talking about themselves to you.

Prepare Your Pitch

One of the most important parts of networking is your initial pitch – and first impressions count.  How will you introduce and describe yourself to people in an engaging yet concise way? Again, the best way to do this effectively is to get feedback from fellow professionals in your network; ask them to listen to your pitch and offer constructive criticism if required. However, you should also be careful not to over-rehearse, nothing sounds less authentic than an overly polished introduction.

Find Common Ground

In terms of the content of the conversation itself, this will vary depending on who you meet on the day of course, but there are certain scenarios you can prep for beforehand. For example, if you know a certain guest or speaker will be present at the event, then you should be doing your research on their background – where they graduated from/are studying, what law firm they work at and what their own personal interests are.

The best networkers don’t just stick to the stuffier topics when networking. They recognise it’s about showing empathy and finding out more about the person that they’re talking to. And, after all, most lawyers like talking about themselves so finding common ground is of paramount importance. Whether that’s football, cycling, your children or anything else you can think of, it’s easier to build stronger relationships if you have some sort of shared interest.

Your research should not just be limited to LinkedIn or a simple Google search either, or even the person themselves, but also around what you find out about the above areas like the university or law firm they studied/work at. These can commonly be found in any interviews, podcasts or panels they’ve spoken at. The reason for this is that in reality most legal professionals attending the event will already have done their research on at least a surface level, and will therefore ask largely the same questions like: what motivated you to move into this profession, what are your personal interests outside of work, etc. which the person in question will quickly find boring.

As your goal for attending the event is to build lasting relationships and expand your network, particularly with well-known legal professionals, you need to ensure you leave as strong an impression as possible on with whom you are speaking and to do that you need to make it less like an interview and more like an opportunity to talk about their most enjoyable aspects of their life/career. For example, if you have already done your homework on the above and know they happen to also regularly play badminton in their downtime, you could ask a question like:

“I found out in your interview with X talk show that you’re really into your badminton and I also happen to love playing with my friends on the weekend! I was wondering how you manage to fit it around your schedule considering your line of work demands so much of your time. Is it a serious interest you have outside of work?”

See the difference between this and a casual ‘How do you balance work with personal hobbies’ question? While the latter really only is concerned about what the answer is, the former takes care to make it relevant and personable to both parties with the aim of learning more about the person, thereby making the chances of getting an equally engaging and unscripted answer more likely.

Follow Up

It’s all well and good meeting people at an event, but it means little if you don’t keep the conversations going by following them up. If it helps, make a short note on the business cards that you’re given to remind you about the individual and then follow up on any information you promised to send over the next day. This leads on to another key point; the importance of reciprocity. People are likely to feel much more inclined to help you if you can offer something that helps them. That means if you know a solution to a problem that someone you met was struggling with, pass it across to them. People are more likely to remember you based on how you make them feel, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to make their lives easier by addressing problems they have. This is how you facilitate reciprocity in professional relationships.

Find value in online networking

Whilst face-to-face interaction is perhaps the first thing that springs to mind when you think of ‘networking’ in today’s digital age, some of the most invaluable opportunities to connect with professionals outside of one’s local vicinity comes from online networking. Platforms like LinkedIn offer a wealth of resources for lawyers to showcase their expertise, connect with peers, join industry-specific groups, and share valuable insights through thought leadership content. Actively participating in online discussions and engaging with other professionals worldwide can equally be hugely beneficial in building your personal brand, marketing your services and that of your firm, and gaining insight and updates relating to your specific role and practice area. For legal-specific online networks, groups like the Junior Solicitors Network are also a virtual hive of activity, giving members access to news and resources to support career and personal development, as well as opportunities to connect with other legal professionals.

In conclusion

Networking in the legal sector isn’t straightforward and some professionals will find it much more difficult than others, whilst others may decide to avoid it altogether.

However, learning the skills around professional networking is essential for lawyers looking to thrive in the legal industry – not only forging strong relationships for their own career and professional development, but using it as an opportunity to market yourself (and your firm) to potential stakeholders and clients.  

By being proactive, building genuine relationships, utilising online platforms, and staying connected, legal professionals can create a robust professional network that opens doors to new opportunities, enhances their careers, and contributes to long-term success.

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 – whether that’s on a contingency or retained basis.  

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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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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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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