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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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Your Legal Career Checklist

When was the last time you sat down and reviewed to what extent you are meeting your career objectives?

And I don’t mean your annual review with your line manager; I’m talking about your deeply personal career goals and intentions.

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

To help you measure if your legal career is progressing as you envisaged when you started out, we have created the following checklist to provide you with a snapshot of where you stand at present career-wise and whether you’re on the right track.

When you work through this checklist, it is essential to bear in mind the reasons you are where you are in the first place.

What did you set out to achieve in your career – and what does doing so look like up to this point? Did you plan on meeting certain financial goals by this stage of your career or have your ambitions been driven by more personal goals?

An equally important point to consider is what you value most about the firm you work for. Do your values fit in with what the firm’s culture prioritises? Is there a synergy present in your working relationships with your colleagues and managers?

If you find that your current role or firm is not providing the satisfaction you had hoped it would, or that the pace of your progress has gradually petered out, then it could be a sign that some important decisions need to be made regarding your career sooner rather than later.

Read each statement below and decide on how much you agree, using the following scale –

1 – Strongly disagree

2 – Disagree

3 – Neutral

4 – Agree

5 – Strongly agree

So, let’s get started!

Career Checklist

1. I am progressing the way I want in my career.

2. I have achieved some of my career goals, and others are within reach.

3. I enjoy my work and look forward to going in each day.

4. The people I work with are very supportive and friendly.

5. I feel like a valued member of the team I work within.

6. My manager gives me the right balance between support/guidance and working under my initiative.

7. I feel I make a difference within the company I work for, rather than just being a number.

8. The company I work for really invests in supporting me to achieve my goals.

9. I can see a clear progression path within my current company.

10. I am happy with the level of training and personal development offered by my current employer.

11. The company I work for believes in me and trusts me to do my job well.

12. I feel that my company enables and supports my focus.

13. I am recognised and rewarded for my work.

14. The sector I work in really interests me.

15. I am happy with the location of and commute to my place of work.

16. I feel my company offer a fair and competitive commission structure (if applicable).

17. The monetary remuneration I receive has enabled me to achieve goals in my personal life (i.e. buy a house, go on my dream holiday, etc.)

18. I feel I have the right work/life balance working for my current company.

19. I am happy with the way my working day is structured.

20. I can see myself staying with this company for a long time.

What Did You Score?

Tally up what you scored and take a look below at some of the points you may want to consider when thinking about how you want your career to progress in the future:

 

20-40

Alarm Bells!

Things aren’t going to plan, and you are probably not enjoying life in your current role. We suggest taking some time to reflect on the possible reasons behind your dissatisfaction and what needs to change to have them resolved. This can be anything from your current workload and position within your team to your working environment and even your practice area.

 

41-60

Room for More

A better score, which suggests there are aspects of your job you enjoy but also a lot of room for improvement. For example, you might like the people you work with, but feel that there is a lack of support present within management to help you meet medium or long-term career goals. You will need to find out if there is any commitment on the part of the management team to implement changes, and assess how concrete said plans for change are. Speak with your manager and outline your concerns as well as what plans they have in this regard. Whatever the outcome of the conversation, you will have either gotten a clearer picture of what your future at the firm looks like or a clear indication that your tenure there has run its course.

 

61-80

Meeting Some Goals

You’re neither happy nor unhappy, though you wouldn’t describe yourself as entirely satisfied. Meaning that if the right opportunity came your way, you would be weighing up your options. Whenever you feel this way it’s important to bear in mind that sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you’re leaning towards a move away from your firm, have a think of why this is your preferred option. What you want to be sure of is that there is no impulsivity driving your decision-making and that an exit is needed because of a bad career move, not a bad day at the office.

 

81+

Loving Life and Your Job

You are achieving your goals, meeting targets and enjoy life where you work. There may be elements of your work life that you feel could be better, but they aren’t big enough of a negative to make you consider working elsewhere. However, we suggest you don’t let complacency set in, as being in your comfort zone for a certain period of time can sometimes lead to that and prove counterproductive to your progress in the long run. If you find that despite being happy with where you are in your career, you haven’t taken any major steps forward in the last year or two, then a fresh challenge could be the jumpstarter you need.

 

Hopefully this checklist has prompted you to think harder about your career goals – and whether or not you are on track to achieve those with your current employer. If the final score however has intimated a change may be afoot, your next wise move is to call on the expertise of a recruitment specialist who can further challenge those thoughts; find out exactly what you are looking for from an employer and uncover the potential reasons you are ready to look at new opportunities in the market.

At Clayton Legal, we have been committed for the past 20 plus years to helping legal professionals build a career they can be proud of, whatever stage of their journey they might be at. If you are at a point where that next step in your legal career is unclear going into the new year, then we can give you the guidance you need to make your start in 2024 the strongest possible one. Give our team a call today on 01772 259 121 or contact us here.

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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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 Counteroffer Conundrum: Why Staying Put May Curtail Your Career

  • November 16, 2023

If you just got that confirmation email or call from the hiring firm offering you the job you’ve long been hoping to land, then chances are you’ll have already punched the air in triumph and let out a huge sigh of relief at the conclusive news, thankful that the hard part of the job searching process is now behind you.

And while it’s certainly in order to celebrate such wonderful news with friends and family and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for making it this far, caution is advised at this junction – as there is still a transition period you are to navigate successfully, especially when there is still your resignation and notice period to manage.

Perhaps the most pertinent when discussing the activities involved in a thorough due diligence post-job search is the topic of counteroffers, an aspect of the transition process that presents a challenge to legal candidates often regardless of what they might have on offer from their soon-to-be employer.

According to the latest CIPD Labour Market Outlook report, 40% of UK employers have made a counteroffer to departing employees in the last 12 months and among that number, 38% matched the salary of the new job offer while 40% exceeded it. With employers increasingly reliant on counter offers to retain their key staff and a skills shortage across the industry to contend with, these findings point to two indisputable facts that any legal candidate on the brink of leaving their current role faces at present:

  • The chances that you will be made a counteroffer are higher than ever before.
  • It will likely be a tantalizing prospect to consider, regardless of whatever offer you’ve got on the table.

All of this to say, it isn’t an issue you can afford to take lightly, simple as its solution may seem.

So, what happens when you break the news to your current employer with your resignation letter at the ready and your current manager provides a counteroffer, asking you to stay?

While the promise of extra benefits, money, or extra responsibilities from your existing employer might be tempting, they usually point to a few red flags that make accepting a counteroffer ultimately a bad move for your career in the long run.

Here are 5 reasons you may want to think twice before accepting the new offer on the table:

1. Counteroffers Don’t Solve Underlying Issues

Moving from one job to another isn’t a decision most legal professionals will arrive at on a whim. There will be a lot of time and thought gone into weighing the pros and cons of leaving your current role, and from every possible angle, before deciding to take the leap.

When you’re given a counteroffer, it may address one or two gripes you have with your existing role (such as a low salary), but it’s unlikely to tackle every major issue that convinced you to leave. When faced with one, it’s a good idea to take a moment to ask yourself why you wanted to take this new job in the first place.

Is your current role lacking the challenge you’re looking for at this stage of your career, or are you planning on moving in an entirely new direction? Perhaps the culture or lack of flexibility are a constant source of headaches at your firm. If the sticking points with your role aren’t resolved by the counteroffer (which tend to be the case if these sit at the root of your concerns as culture and career development are not as simple a problem to fix as salary concerns) you should absolutely be turning it down and moving on with your new job offer.

2. An Unwelcome Change in Dynamics

Whilst it is well within your right to explore alternative options if your needs aren’t being met professionally and personally, an inevitable by-product of accepting a counteroffer after making your departure known to your employer is the impact it will have on your relationship going forward.

There’s a good chance your employer will have lingering questions about your loyalty after accepting the counteroffer, and this can manifest in ways that will eventually come to undermine the reasons that sit behind your decision to stay.

You may see yourself getting passed over for promotions, or find your employer actively looking to hire for your position to fill the gap you’ll leave when you do eventually jump ship, all because they consider you a flight risk.

As they will (somewhat understandably) no longer have the same level of trust they once did, there’s likely to be an uncomfortable and awkward dynamic at play, even if they do end up going in the other direction and working harder to keep you happy.

3. A Growth Plateau

Career development often involves moving between different roles, taking on new responsibilities over time and stepping out of one’s comfort zone constantly to keep the trajectory of one’s growth on the up. While there is the benefit of quickly climbing up the ladder in one law firm and building up experience working within a particular team or role, staying put for too long can be as damaging to your career prospects in the long run, as it keeps you out of the loop on what opportunities are ripe for you to expand your skills and experience and consequently stunt your growth.

When deciding if a counteroffer is worth accepting, ask yourself if it keeps you on course to achieving your short and long-term career goals. Compared to the job you presently have lined up, does your existing role get you closer to meeting those key milestones any faster?

Remember that a higher salary won’t bridge the gap that an unrewarding role leaves. Yes, the money will certainly be a welcome incentive but that will quickly become irrelevant if your existing role isn’t pushing you in the right direction. It’s important that you keep your end goal in mind when considering a counteroffer and avoid any ill judgement based on the promise of monetary value.

4. With Great Investment Comes Great Scrutiny

Given the gravity of the skills shortage prevalent in the hiring market today, keeping a hold of top talent has become a lot more of an urgent imperative for businesses across the industry. As firms increasingly opt for desperate measures to retain their key personnel, it has become commonplace to see employers rush to offer a more handsome remuneration package to save themselves the stress of scouring the market for an adequate replacement.

While this is good news for candidates currently without a role, it is a double edged sword for anyone considering the prospect of a counteroffer. This flexibility towards a salary/benefits increase can and often does mean employers  become increasingly wary of how much you warrant the extra investment down the line and can lead to them actively looking for tangible evidence you’re worth it right away.

Having this extra scrutiny placed on your performance, conduct and attitude – down to the smallest of things – can be a stressful experience, even if you are conscious you are well-deserving of the extra benefits you received.

In some cases, employees who accept counteroffers find themselves under pressure to perform like a new hire all over again, trying to prove they deserve their new salary and responsibilities. In other cases, you may find that some of these responsibilities aren’t ones you asked for or are fit to handle, and that’s because your employer simply wants to ensure they’re getting their “return on investment” from you.

5. Risk of Regret

Job changes can be stressful and worrisome, but they can also present incredible opportunities to tap into your potential as a legal professional and build a stellar career for yourself. If you’ve been offered a job at another firm, and you’ve said “yes”, then chances are there’s clearly something about the new role that appealed to you.

Maybe you loved the level of flexibility it offered and don’t have an opportunity to get that kind of work life balance at your current firm. Perhaps you were interested in branching out into a slightly different aspect of your practice area and won’t get the chance to explore that in your current role. Bear in mind that any unfulfilled desire will always be there in the form of regret if you do nothing to change your circumstances when opportunity knocks at the door.

Although you’ll have the comfort of not having to get accustomed to a new working environment or team, you’ll also be left constantly wondering what would have happened if you had followed through and moved into that new role.

Counteroffer Strategies 101

It’s always worth preparing for a counteroffer in advance before approaching your manager with your resignation letter. Think about how best to pass across your rejection to their offer politely and firmly, and whether there are still any important factors at play that warrant you seriously considering passing up the chance to make a new move.

By far the best way to add that extra layer security to your preparation is to work alongside a specialist legal recruiter throughout a process. They possess a great deal of knowledge about the job application process, from both a hiring and employee perspective and are best placed to help alleviate any doubts you might have about your current options – counteroffer or not.

If you find yourself at a critical junction in your legal career with no clear pointers on how best to advance, then you’re in luck. At Clayton Legal we make it our goal to simplify the job-hunting process as much as possible for legal candidates, whatever the complications involved may be, and would love to give you the helping hand you need in navigating any uncertainties about the next move for your career. Give our team a call today on 01772 259 121 or contact us here.

About Clayton Legal

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

Whether you are building your legal team or are 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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Is It Really Possible to Retrain From One Branch Of Law To Another?

  • September 15, 2023

When the time has come to move on from your role in the legal profession, in most cases, individuals are looking for something ‘similar’ when they embark on the job search. Some may look for a higher position within a different firm; others a lateral move where their general roles and responsibilities are similar – but more often than not, this tends to be within the same defined practice area.

But if you do find yourself contemplating a transition from one legal area to another altogether – it might be hard to know where to start looking for general advice on what is possible, and the steps you might need to take to get your foot in the door.

Step 1: Assess If You Might Be Jumping The Gun

The first (and certainly the most important) thing to consider before anything else is whether you are 100% set on moving practice areas in the first place.

In other words, evaluate the ‘Why’ behind your decision to retrain.

Thoroughly examining your reasons for wanting to make a change can greatly help to bring clarity in your decision-making and avoid any potential tunnel-visioning. 

Start by asking yourself if you are happy in your current practice area – or whether it is the environment, culture, or current firm that you’re looking to change instead. Indeed, it might not be what you are practising but where that is the problem here.

Or – are the reasons for moving on more personal? If you find yourself to be constantly exhausted, irritable and apathetic towards your work and personal life of late, you are likely to be experiencing burnout. Whilst this needs addressing – is it a sign that the practice area itself is no longer a good fit for you? Or more so a sign that a similar role elsewhere may address your concerns?

If you’ve run through all of these scenarios is assessing whether the time is right to move on, and you’re still set on a categorical change, there are certain things to consider as you embark on your jobsearch.

Step 2: Conduct An Honest Self-Assessment

Before embarking on your journey to retrain in a new area of law, it’s essential to perform a thorough self-assessment. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What area of law am I currently practicing, and again, why exactly do I want to move away from this area?
  • What new area of law interests me, and what is my motivation for making this change?
  • What are my long-term career goals, and how will this transition align with them?
  • Do I have the necessary skills, background, and aptitude for the new area of law?

Understanding your motivations and assessing your strengths and weaknesses will help you make an informed decision about your career transition.

Step 3: Do Your Research

To transition successfully, you’ll need to immerse yourself in the new area of law. Begin by conducting extensive research. Read books, articles, and legal publications related to your chosen field. Attend seminars, workshops, and conferences to gain a better understanding of current trends, issues, and developments in that area.

Networking is equally important. Connect with lawyers, professionals, and organisations in the new field. Join relevant online forums, LinkedIn groups, and local bar associations. Building a network of contacts can provide valuable insights, mentorship, and of course – potential job opportunities in the future.

If you are already working for a multi-disciplinary law firm, you may already have a head start here as there will likely be colleagues you can approach for informal (and formal) discussions about their own role. Depending on the firm, you may be able to talk candidly in your performance reviews or 121 about an internal move – even on a temporary basis to see if it is a good fit for both parties.

Step 4: Embrace The (Sometimes Inevitable) Additional Education And Training

Depending on the new area of law you’re transitioning into, you may need additional education and training which can be a hard pill to swallow after you’ve spent a number of years qualifying as a practicing lawyer or legal professional in the first place.

You may however need to consider the following options:

Postgraduate Courses: Enroll in a relevant postgraduate course, such as a Master’s degree in your chosen field of law. Many universities in the UK offer specialised LLM programmes, and The University Of Law has a multitude of postgraduate courses that may fit the bill).

Continuous Learning: Attend short courses, webinars, and workshops to stay updated with the latest developments and enhance your knowledge in the new area.

In addition to attending events and webinars, see what online or evening courses you might be able to take to work toward a qualification in your area of interest. Consider what other training you can do, from self-study to gaining certificates which might add credibility to your CV – although note, that some of this will likely come at a cost.

Step 5: Consider Other Options To Boost Your Experience

Paid-for training and qualifications may get you on the right track when looking to retrain, but there are also other elements you may wish to consider too:

  • Volunteering: Offer your services pro bono or as a volunteer to gain practical experience and build your portfolio. Many firms or legal organisations welcome volunteers and it’s commendable to have this experience on your CV when it comes to looking for a role in your chosen practice area
  • Internships and Work Placements: Seek internships or work placements in law firms or legal departments specialising in your chosen area. This hands-on experience will give you a deeper understanding of the day-to-day work involved. Again, if this is possible at your current firm, put the wheels in motion to shadow a colleague.

Step 6: Get Your Marketing Collateral In Order

Simply put – as a jobseeker, this relates to your CV and Cover Letter

When applying for positions in your new field, tailor your CV and cover letter to highlight relevant skills, experiences, and transferrable qualities. Emphasise your commitment to the new area of law and your dedication to continuous learning.

Whilst your experience to date is likely in your current practice area, highlighting transferrable skills here is absolutely key.

Could you focus on the following for example?

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Case management
  • Results-driven
  • Business acumen

That being said, be careful not to fall into the trap of peppering your CV or letter with meaningless cliches or jobseeker ‘jargon’!

Step 7: Seek Guidance From The Get-Go

You may wish to consider seeking guidance from a career counsellor or a mentor who has experience in the field you’re transitioning into if your network gives you access to these. They will undoubtedly provide valuable insights, advice, and support throughout your retraining journey.

In addition to implementing the above strategies, working closely with a specialist legal recruitment agency like Clayton Legal, who understands your situation and your goals, can significantly improve your chances of success. If you take the time to clearly explain your current situation and your goals, they will have the know-how and the connections to guide you toward landing a role in your new specialism and can help to signpost you to other resources to help you on your way,

In Conclusion

In summary, while transitioning from one area of law to another in the UK is certainly possible, it requires careful planning, determination, and a willingness to learn and adapt. By focusing on transferable skills, acquiring additional education or training, networking, gaining practical experience, and persistently pursuing your goals, you can successfully make the switch to a different legal specialisation.

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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How to Get on the Radar of a Legal Recruiter

  • September 15, 2023

Has the time come for you to make a new move in your legal career? 

While it’s advisable to give the idea of leaving your current job some thought before coming to a decision – there are certainly red flags that when present in your work life, signal an immediate need for a fresh start in pastures new.

These could include signs of burnout, difficulty in maintaining the same level of interest and engagement you once had in your job, or frustration borne of the lack of opportunities afforded to you to grow and develop as a legal professional.

If you find yourself grappling with any of the above, you might have already begun your job search either online or by asking peers, and have come up short. That is where you can benefit greatly from the support of a specialist legal recruiter, and in such cases, we highly recommend giving us a call – however, bear in mind that you are not the only candidate that will have contacted a legal recruiter like us.  

It’s not unusual at all for consultants to receive many candidates for each job vacancy, and their reputation (as well as yours) is on the line with each placement recommendation they make. So how do you sell your value to legal recruiters and give them a reason to recommend you to employers looking for nothing but the best legal talent available? 

In short… how can you ensure that they become your advocate and help to ‘sell’ your worth and fit for the role(s) in question?

Getting The Basics Down

Here at Clayton Legal, we have been receiving candidate CVs for over 25 years, and we can (still) say with confidence that this document remains an essential part of how legal candidates get their profile noticed and progressed to the interview stage. 

Whether you’re in the early stages or more into the twilight years of your career, your CV is a document that both employers and legal recruiters will expect to be crafted and polished to perfection. A standout CV creates a compelling case for you to be considered as the ideal candidate not only by backing up your (relevant) list of skills and experience with tangible results but also by doing so without being peppered with unnecessary and overused CV cliches and with a clear structure and format to keep it easily digestible. If CV writing is proving to be a challenge for you, check out our blog here on how to craft a CV that catches the eye of employers. If you can write one capable of grabbing their attention, you can be sure it’ll grab ours. 

All of which bodes well for you, the candidate. So how do you get on the radar of a great legal recruiter and maximise your chances of securing that dream job? 

Conduct An Online Health Check

You will likely be well aware by now of the importance of having an online presence that underscores your suitability to prospective employers, but if you haven’t yet done due diligence in this particular area, then now is the time to take it seriously.

It is well known by hiring experts that a first impression of a candidate usually comes before the interview, and with social media screening becoming increasingly popular as a prerequisite amongst employers to progress candidates’ applications to the interview stage, giving your digital footprint a thorough examination (especially if you have a strong online presence) should be a must if you want to appear as the top candidate for selection by a legal recruiter. 

This is especially pertinent when it comes to LinkedIn, as it is the go-to social media platform for prospective employers, and consequently legal recruiters for potential candidates. It’s therefore vital to make the most of the opportunities your LinkedIn profile provides to help you in legal career progression and opportunity. Tidy up your profile, ensuring that keywords & key phrases relevant to roles you might be on the lookout for are present in your skills experience section and make sure your interaction on the platform – both past and present – reflect the professional image your profile is trying to portray. Get rid of anything you don’t want potential employers or any legal recruiter to see, (pictures, bio, comments).

We go into further detail on how to create a LinkedIn profile that stands out to employers here. 

Both employers and legal recruiters will be looking for certain skills that highlight how well a candidate meets the criteria of the role in question. While you will naturally have ones acquired from your qualifications present on your CV and LinkedIn profile, you should also be paying equal attention to transferable skills, as they are not only always applied across roles, but they also highlight how you work in terms of communication, integrity and experience. If you have gained four, six or eight years PQE since you were last on the job market, you will have extended your skillset considerably and so now is an appropriate time to review them and ensure you use them to sell yourself as much as possible. Make sure to back up each skill mentioned with an example of how you demonstrated it. 

Are You Spotlighting Your Skillset?

Both employers and legal recruiters will be looking for certain skills that highlight how well a candidate meets the criteria of the role in question. While you will naturally have ones acquired from your qualifications present on your CV and LinkedIn profile, you should also be paying equal attention to transferable skills, as they are not only always applied across roles, but they also highlight how you work in terms of communication, integrity and experience. If you have gained four, six or eight years PQE since you were last on the job market, you will have extended your skillset considerably and so now is an appropriate time to review them and ensure you use them to sell yourself as much as possible. Make sure to back up each skill mentioned with an example of how you demonstrated it. 

Could you talk about any of the following perhaps?

Teamwork – Show you can work effectively within a team towards mutual goals.

Time Management – Demonstrate how you prioritise and manage your workload (and potentially that of others). Include examples of taking responsibility for your own work, balancing tasks and hitting deadlines.

Leadership – Indicate initiative and motivation. Examples of how you have built rapport with clients, colleagues and influenced decisions. How have you inspired others?

Technology – Knowing how to use the latest software and technology is essential. Additional skills such as being able to troubleshoot complex problems, or understand data security, will provide an added benefit.

Adaptability – Nothing stays the same forever. Everyone has to adapt, adjust and change. Showing you are versatile and agile indicates a willingness to move forward and embrace change. This sort of positivity is crucial to progress your legal career.

Problem-Solving – Offering solution-orientated answers indicates your ability to use emotional intelligence, manage risk and make decisions.

Communication – As well as being able to communicate your own ideas to others verbally or on paper, being able to listen is a great skill, and developing listening skills can help alleviate potential misunderstandings and costly mistakes.

Does The Shoe Fit?

It might sound obvious, but working with a legal recruiter is a two-way street and meant to benefit both parties, meaning that decision of which recruiter to work with is just as vital as their decision to collaborate with you. 

Therefore, before making the decision to partner with a particular recruiter, do your homework to ensure their values align with yours. How long have they been in business? Do they put the needs of their clients and candidates at the heart of everything they do, striving to nurture and build relationships? Are they trustworthy and transparent? Do they highlight ethical recruitment practices?

 Make sure they strive to provide the best possible fit for candidates (and clients) alongside ongoing support, pertinent information, ability to evaluate a candidate’s potential fit into the company culture, and a great retention rate for placements. Take the time to thoroughly research their credentials and check that they are respected in the recruiting world – online testimonials are a good indication of this. 

Be Proactive

Showing commitment and enthusiasm goes a long way to putting you ahead of the pack. Once you’ve chosen your recruiter, don’t sit waiting for them to contact you (even though they are likely to). Becoming proactive in building a relationship with your recruiter is a great way to get on their radar. 

Reach out to them via email, LinkedIn or telephone. Many recruiters have a page where you can upload your CV, getting you in the system quickly. 

Whatever method you use, a proactive response will enable you to engage with the recruiter, brief them on your skills, requirements and PQE experience, and allow them to quickly identify the best opportunities for you in your practice area, or discuss exploring a change of direction and what that entails for you. 

They will have also valuable tips and advice to offer you during your search. For best results, treat your communication with your recruiter rather like how they treat theirs with a candidate – check in regularly and demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to securing a new role. The more you do so, the clearer the picture they can get of where the next chapter of your legal career lies and the better their advice will be. 

Next Steps

If you’re here because you believe a move is on the cards at this stage of your career, you’ve come to the right place. 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 want to finally take the uncertainty out of your job search, give our team a call on 01772 259 121 or email us here. 

 

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