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LinkedIn 101: Creating a Stand-Out Profile

When it comes to selling your value to recruiters and hirers alike, there is always some due diligence and preparation needed in order to ensure your digital profile is up to date and really sells the value you will offer to a new employer. 

Getting your CV up to date and reviewed is the most obvious first step as this humble document is still the main catalyst to displaying and demonstrating your skills and experience. 

However your LinkedIn profile is often seen as the digital version of your CV and more often than not, will be viewed in parallel with any documents you send directly in the application for a new role. Ignoring this as a marketing channel to ‘sell’ you and your suitability is a mistake some jobseekers make – but the truth is, it should be given the same care and attention as your physical CV, if not more. 

As the world’s biggest professional platform with over a billion users currently registered, LinkedIn is the place to broadcast your value as a legal professional and if utilised properly, can convey this in the most interactive and engaging of ways  ways that a CV alone can never achieve. The benefits it can provide and the edge it gives candidates willing to invest in maximising its potential are numerous and at times, it can be the only thing one actually needs to get a foot through the door of prospective hirers, particularly if you aren’t actively looking for a new opportunity, but would be open to speculative conversations about what’s out there. 

Here we look at why a polished LinkedIn profile is indispensable to your job search in the modern age and the quick, easy wins you can amass using a well-crafted profile to help earn – and cement – a place in a hirer’s shortlist. 

Headlines And Pronouns   

When talking about selling yourself, fewer things make more of a difference in your efforts than a strong first impression. As the first piece of text a recruiter or potential hiring manager will see and the second thing that will tell them about who you are, your headline is what will give the first impression of your skills, credentials and suitability for a role, and you have no more than 220 characters to make it count.  

It might be tempting to go with a simple “ Paralegal at X Company” but to hiring firms this is of little – if any – value. Rather, it is best, according to Mimax Senior Talent Partner Margaret Buj, to go with one of the below formats. You can choose any of the 3, depending on your PQE level, experience and skills but you’ll notice that each one concisely showcases your value in some way to prospective employers. This is because the key to writing a headline that captures attention, whatever the structure used is to succinctly paraphrase what you do and what you bring to the table.   

  1. Role & Specific achievement, e.g. Solicitor at BLM.  X (significant) deals closed/X high-profile cases won.
  2. Role & Years of Experience in practice area(s) and region, e.g. Solicitor at BLM. 5+ years of experience in dealing with insurance litigation, housing disrepairs and property damage in Liverpool.
  3. Role & what your expertise is, e.g. Senior Lawyer at BLM. Business Ethics & Management, London. 

You can also add a few other things that make it easier for hirers to identify you in your headline, such as pronouns. The use of pronouns lets hiring managers, colleagues or online connections know how to address you and avoid any misconceptions.   

Fix Up – Look Sharp 

We live in an era where by and large, seeing is believing, and it is well-documented how influential imagery and media can be in any context, let alone when you want your profile to be viewed by potential hirers. 

 As such, a profile photo is more of a necessity than a luxury to your job searching efforts should you be looking to remain as visible as possible to prospective employers. As it is right at the introduction section of your profile, it is very likely the first thing people will see immediately after they land on your page and whether consciously or subconsciously, the first thing with which you will be assessed both as an individual and a professional. 

Now, to some this is seen as a potential hurdle to their job-searching efforts, as a photo can be a source of discrimination, considering it can also display ethnicity, age, gender, religion and more. While it is an unfortunate reality that certain individuals, hirers included, can write off a potential candidate with unconscious bias, it still serves you well to include a well-taken photo in your profile. There are a few reasons for this:  

Firstly, from a purely technical standpoint, profiles without a photo on LinkedIn are categorised by the algorithm as incomplete and are therefore less likely to show up in the search results to hirers and/or recruiters looking for profiles similar to yours.  

They also appear inauthentic, as profiles usually tagged as fake are those assumed to be the ones without a photo to showcase proof of identity.   

A photoless profile can also lead to a perceived lack of professionalism or ability to utilise LinkedIn, as to many hiring managers, it can be inexcusable to not have one considering the level of technology candidates have at their disposal to get one of good quality.  

On that note, it is only photos of such standard that will be deemed acceptable and not just any photo will do, so deliberate effort must be taken to ensure a photo that showcases a good blend of professionalism and personality is used. Remember that your photo is what will most strongly be associated with your professional image and reputation, and what you carry everywhere with you, whether on LinkedIn, another platform or in real life. If your photo is taken on an evening out with friends from several years ago, then it is absolutely right to review and replace with something that illustrates who you are on a professional platform.  

Are You Easy to Contact? 

If your profile has garnered the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager, and boxes are being ticked on potential suitability for a role, the next step is to make direct contact.  

The quickest way to kill your chances of being selected however is a failure to include basic contact details like a phone number and an (appropriate) email address – something a surprising number of candidates still fail to check.  

Make sure these are all present and clearly visible in your profile, and that the email address provided is as professional and easy to read as can be. Avoid the likes of informal addresses like tenerifedan69@gmail.com or something indicating personal information as this can trigger subconscious biases. Ensure that this sense of professionalism is reflected in other details present in your profile such as your LinkedIn URL and any possible links to portfolios or achievements and keep them short, clean and easy to access.   

If you wish to add anything you have written such as white papers written papers or links to any recorded work done at conferences or events, then you can include them in your featured section. Regardless of where you add them though, make sure these are present in your profile if possible, as they give recruiters a chance to see more of what you can dover and above generic job descriptions and your ‘About’ section.  

Your About Section  

Contrary to what some may think, this is not a simple regurgitation of what skills and credentials you’ve got on your CV. It is your opportunity to buttress your case for your suitability and is what people will be next interested in if your headline catches their eye.  

 Think of it as an extension of this part of your profile – if your headline sparks the interest then your About section will do the heavy lifting when it comes to converting that interest to action. Therefore, make the best use of the 2000 characters you are given in this section to write relevant, useful information that sells your skillset and any successes you have seen (that is attractive to potential employers). 

 Some examples of ‘what good looks like’ from LinkedIn themselves can be found HERE which may give you an idea of how to give yours an upgrade.  

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Underneath your photo and headline you will see buttons that allow you ‘add profile section’ or add a frame to your profile picture. Both can be useful in providing more information on your job-seeking status, as well as adding more depth and insight to your personal profile and achievements. 

 The ‘open to’ button will give you three options, but as a jobseeker the one to select is ‘open to work’. If you are currently not employed this is one of the easiest ways to let recruiters and hiring managers know you are a potential candidate without even clicking on your profile. Failure to have to take this step can actually keep you out of an employer’s shortlist, as it may lead them to assume you are not open to any potential opportunities. However it goes without saying that caution should be taken if you are currently employed and your current employer is not aware of you looking for a new role.  

In the ‘add profile section’ you can add core information (education, skills), recommended (certifications, courses, links to white papers or presentations you’ve delivered), and additional (pro bono work, languages spoken, test results and more). 

Whichever section you choose to enhance, we recommend that you write this first person to avoid sounding pretentious, and to give readers a little flavour of your personality. Do you volunteer? Can you speak Russian? No one wants to hire a robot, and these added extras can help to make you more of an attractive prospect to would-be recruiters and employers.  

That said, ensure that, whatever you choose to add either in this section or throughout your profile, they tick the below boxes:  

  • Does it showcase your competence as a legal professional? 
  • Does it communicate your value, with supporting evidence? 
  • Does it help you stand out?  

Walk the Walk and Talk the (Right) Talk  

Equally important to your job-searching efforts is what you actually say and do on the platform, as this can often tell hirers and recruiters a lot about who you are and whether or not you are worth their attention, without even clicking on your profile.  

The content you post, repost, share and take the time to comment on communicates how you want others to interact with you on the platform, whether you are aware of this or not. 

Therefore, ensure that you have no track record of any ill or inappropriate communication on your profile and the content you interact with. Get rid of any comments that are distasteful, controversial, or aggressive in nature and keep your feed as clear of such content as possible. This is not to say that personality is unwelcome on LinkedIn but it should not be at the expense of your professional reputation and especially, your job-hunting prospects.  

Instead, focus on sharing content that showcases and demonstrates your commitment to professionalism, growth and value in your area of expertise. This will tell anyone that sees you on the platform through your interactions that you are a communicator who likes to stay on top of their game and has a finger on the pulse of the industry and specialism.  

Do you share (and comment on) 3rd party news relevant to your practice area? Do you champion awards or events linked to your current firm, or the wider legal industry? If so – it’s always worth glancing at your own feed from time to time to sense-check how those looking at your profile see your activity and how you interact with your own professional network. 

Similarly, if you list networking or relationship-building as a skill, but your feed is like a ghost town – there is also a disconnect, so will need amending where necessary.  

It’s not (Just) What You Know… 

 Following on from this point, capitalise on endorsements from colleagues and clients as these can be significant green ticks to employers and recruiters. Social proof remains a great influencer in people’s decision to ‘buy’ or in this case, get in touch to find out more information and whether online or otherwise, should not be dismissed as a waste of space to include in your profile.  

Any recommendations or endorsements you have acquired, you should be adding regularly and if you don’t have any, don’t be afraid to ask. You will be surprised how willing people can be to give you a recommendation (especially ifyou offer to give one back in return). 

Finally, 

The key to building a standout LinkedIn profile starts with all of the above but it certainly doesn’t stop there. Your reputation is only as good as the amount of investment you put into maintaining it, and this applies on LinkedIn just as much as it does in real life, so establish a routine that helps you stay on top of your online presence and keeps your status up to date. 

In today’s dynamic professional landscape, maintaining an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is not just a formality; it’s a strategic necessity. Your LinkedIn presence serves as a digital representation of your career journey, skills, and aspirations. It’s often the first impression you make on potential employers, recruiters, clients, and collaborators. By keeping your profile current, you signal to others that you’re actively engaged in your field, open to new opportunities, and committed to professional growth.   

Furthermore, a well-maintained LinkedIn profile can enhance your visibility, credibility, and networking capabilities, ultimately opening doors to unexpected opportunities and fostering meaningful connections.  

 So, whether you’re actively job hunting or content in your current role, investing time in curating your LinkedIn profile is a proactive step towards shaping your professional narrative and advancing your career journey. 

  

About Clayton Legal 

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

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

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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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10 Smart Questions to Ask In Your Legal Interview

  • November 13, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

Pass up this opportunity at your peril.

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

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

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

Here are 10 smart questions to consider:

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

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

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

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

2. How will my performance be evaluated?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. How has the firm changed since you joined?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. How is workload distributed?

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

10. What are the next steps in this process?

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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

  • November 4, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Prioritise Discretion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 2: Update Your CV & Cover Letter

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

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

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

Step 3: Plan For Interviews Accordingly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find Your New Role the Right Way

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

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

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

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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

 

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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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Unleashing The Power of AI in Your Job Search

The sudden emergence of AI onto the hiring scene has brought in a wave of changes that have transformed how job seekers and recruiters alike approach recruitment and job hunting. With the growing importance of the role of AI in recruitment has come an evolution of a similar ilk in the job search process for candidates on the job market, and in recent months much has been written about how they can leverage tools such as ChatGPT and AI Resume Writer to get the most out of their job search efforts.

However, in order to fully reap the benefits of AI technology as an active jobseeker, a thorough understanding of what exactly AI has brought to the hiring landscape on both sides of the playing field is essential, as one must first know the role of AI in the recruitment process of hiring companies to better understand how it will inform and change your approach to job hunting, as well as understand where it offers many benefits and where it shows its limitations.

Used long since its recent evolution into a highly influential tool for hiring managers, AI has been playing a simple but necessary role in the early stages of the hiring process for over the past two decades, helping companies sort through long lists of candidate applications by automating profile evaluation, and effectively streamlining hiring practices in a variety of other ways to optimise recruitment efforts. And, with how businesses have been forced to adapt in a cut-throat post-pandemic market and economic climate, its importance has only grown.

Shrinking recruiting budgets and growing talent pools have meant that digital technologies have begun playing an increasingly decisive role in the outcome of job seekers’ fates employment-wise. Although in some cases, pertinent (and valid) questions are being asked about transparency and accountability, particularly with how easily it can reflect the biases of its users, and ultimately exacerbate the issue it was meant to eliminate.

With the role of AI in hiring set to only expand in the near future, the importance of being aware of where exactly the winnable battles lie in the job application process – whether that be with the bots or their employers – has never been more crucial for a job seeker.

 

Beating the Bots

It might come across as stating the obvious considering the nature of the process but automated software used in hiring tends to eliminate far more candidates than those pushed through to the next stages. What is rather surprising from this fact is the implication that it’s rarely the most qualified person who gets the job, as stated by career coach and CV writer Lauren Milligan. This is, unsurprisingly due to the cut-throat efficiency with which AI software operates, and when employed in the initial screening stage in the hiring process, can mean candidates’ dreams of securing a highly desired role are over before it’s even begun, despite pouring hours into crafting the perfect CV or cover letter to avoid such a fate.

This won’t be news to some, however, as many are already aware of how these kinds of AI software, usually known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), operate. Their use of keyword matching, to assess your fit based on the extent of the match between your skills and experience and those listed in the job description, has become common knowledge amongst candidates, but it can mean that applicants who are otherwise very much qualified but without the necessary overlap between the required & acquired skills (usually between 70-80%) get cut out.

Another important, but perhaps less known and yet obvious point about how ATS’ work is the chronological order in which they sort through candidate applications. These systems will usually have a cut-off point on their list of applicants in order to save time and efficiently deal with roles oversaturated with job applications. This can mean that regardless of whether or not you have applied the above tips to your job search efforts, the success of your application can hinge on which end of the applicant list you end up on – in other words, how early or how late you apply for any role. Do it too close to the given deadline and even if you did submit it on time, your application will likely end up being dropped simply because it happened to be below the cut-off point.

To this end, employing AI to cut down on the time spent searching for a role by taking your use of it, is now a necessity rather than an option for active job seekers. Fortunately, with how frankly overwhelmed candidates are today by the number and accessibility of AI tools available to aid them in their job search, getting your application axed early is now a very avoidable fate.

Job seekers have the opportunity to optimise their CV to match the job description as accurately as possible and pass that initial litmus test by employing the use of AI CV writer tools, to help to write, suggest edits to and include the right keywords in their CV. While these tools don’t have a steep learning curve, there are pointers that could prove helpful in utilising them well.

 

Feeding The Hopper – Getting Out What You Put In

One of the biggest tips when using any AI tool to generate content is to give it as much context and detail as you can, as the quality of the desired piece (to a degree) depends on what information you provide it. So when writing CVs, using AI tools such as ChatGPT and Resume Kicker, it’s a good idea to provide context regarding your background, achievements, education and work experience, making sure to add in measurable results to back up career achievements like percentages, ranges, findings, as these are things AI tools like ChatGPT won’t automatically know or might fabricate if you don’t tell it.

Some other tools like KickResume or Rezi require just the job title and generate job titles that match it in a bullet point format. Obviously, you are free to change this to your liking as long as it accurately reflects your experience and roles.

 

A Step-By-Step Approach

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.

 

Find Tools To Support (Not Replace) Your ’Marketing’

When employing AI to help craft your CV or Cover letter), utilising tools that simulate the keyword-matching process is useful as they can scan your document for keywords/phrases relevant to the job description.

This is where the crux of the issue lies when trying to get past any ATS and as previously mentioned, a failure to do this can make other efforts to get your foot through the door meaningless, even if you do have the right skills and credentials for the role in question.

There is specific software on the market now such as TheProfessional.Me to address just this; with both CV scanning and CV writing tools to analyse your job descriptions and include relevant keywords. There are also browser plugins like Jobanalytics, which work in a similar manner, to ensure that your CV has a high enough keyword match to be considered eligible by the ATS.

 

Forget Your Formatting At Your Peril

When it comes to CV formatting and layout, keeping this clean and simple is just good advice to ensure your salient points are clear and don’t get lost.  Plus, your formatting must be simplistic so it is as easy to scan as possible  – both physically by a hiring manager and by any ATS platforms used. The reason for this is that ATS’ usually reject CVs with more complex formatting elements such as boxes, tables or graphics and favours CVs with a more traditional layout as they are easier to analyse. While this can undermine attempts from candidates to convey a strong personal brand through their CVs and Cover Letters (more on this later), it is necessary to avoid getting booted by the system automatically, especially if your CV ticks all the other boxes. So be sure to space out your sentences and structure them in an easily digestible format, using bullet points and professional fonts like Times New Roman.

 

Tidying Up Your Digital Footprint

If you use AI tools to update and refine your CV, you’ll also want to update your online CV too – namely, your LinkedIn profile. Optimising your work experience here is key to include keywords and phrases relevant to the type of role you want. Go into as much detail as you are able and don’t forget to include any tangible results that back up any statements.

Whilst a CV builder can certainly help to lay the foundations, quite simply, this is the one area it won’t be able to finesse as this knowledge lies with you – so be prepared once again to adapt, edit, and personalise your profile accordingly.

 

Preparation Support For Interviews

As you progress down the recruitment process as a jobseeker, AI tools are flooding the market to help here too. Take ChatGPT for example which can simulate mock interviews or provide a list of questions that it recommends you ask as a candidate looking for a role in a specific practice area.

Google meanwhile has developed its own interview-preparation tool, Interview Warmup where you are asked to ‘speak’ your answers out loud whilst the tool transcribes and then provides insights into what you said.

This is a great tool to not only give you a chance to practice and perfect your responses, but also to learn about your pace, word choices, intonation, and hesitations. Being aware of these (and what you need to improve on) will undoubtedly help you to prepare for the day in question.

However, what such tools won’t give you is insight on the ‘typical’ questions asked by that particular firm; what the hiring manager or Partner is looking for specifically, any intel on how previous interviews with that firm have tended to run, or the inside track on the vacancy, make up of the team, or historic hiring activity.

 

Can AI Really Do It All?

While AI brings numerous benefits it’s important to acknowledge some potential drawbacks as well – at least for the time being.

CVs and cover letters are still as important as ever to do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting your profile noticed – whether that’s for a direct job application, a speculative send to an employer, or when you register with a recruitment agency to represent you in the market. And, whilst AI tools can certainly give you a foundation on which to build your content, it is unlikely to suitably represent your own personality. Rather, without intervention, you run the risk of producing an identikit CV containing the same words, phrases, and points as another legal professional applying for the role who has done the same.

Yes – in some ways, it levels the playing field as you no longer have to be a wordsmith to craft a well-honed CV. However, in other ways, as the use of AI becomes more widely adopted, it becomes increasingly more difficult to genuinely stand out.

 

In Conclusion

AI is revolutionising most industries in some way shape or form, and the world of hiring and recruitment is no exception.

Tools and platforms purporting to make the road to a new role easier appear to launch in the market at a rate of knots, offering all kinds of services from CV writing and screening, to job matching, virtual career advisors, LinkedIn optimisation, and document creation.

Undoubtedly there are numerous benefits to job seekers who often are time-poor, to help at least get a good foundation on their ‘marketing’ collateral. However, it’s important to remember that AI is not a substitute for human involvement or insight.

The human touch and intuition still play a crucial role, especially when assessing soft skills and cultural fit. Registration with a reputable legal recruitment agency will help to fill this gap, and can help to give you the inside track on hiring, the background to that position being open, other opportunities not advertised in the open market, and support as you prepare to interview.

And,  whilst it is our job to shout from the rooftops why legal professionals should use the services of a recruitment consultant to give them a tangible step up and competitive advantage, now more than ever, those who are tapping into the sector expertise of agencies are reaping the benefits and continuing their own journeys of career progression – even if they are dipping their toe into the world of AI.

 

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 perhaps have had your fingers burnt by a bad hire in the past, 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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The 7-Step Action Plan for Legal Jobseekers

  • August 29, 2023

Embarking on a job search can be an exciting yet daunting journey, not least for legal professionals that may be entering the job market for the first time in years. The process itself is marked by numerous crucial decisions and considerations, whether this is your first legal role after qualification, or a move well into your career.

And, whilst it may be tempting to jump into the process with both feet, it’s always worth taking a small step back, and approach the task at hand with a strategic mindset.

The critical factor here is doing the work needed to get organised and implement your ‘project new role’ plan – even if time is short.

To help kickstart the process, we have outlined an 8-step roadmap, focusing on key actions to take at each stage that can help to make it both easier and significantly enhance your prospects from the get-go.

Step 1: Consider what you want from your new role

Before beginning your job search, it’s important to sit down and have a think about what exactly you’re looking for. You might be instinctively looking for a role that is similar to your current one, or you might have had a change of heart and are looking at a role in a different practice area, or area of specialism. Regardless of what your initial preference might be, it’s important that you take some time to re-evaluate your career progress, goals, how close you are to achieving them and what steps you can take to get you there. Have your priorities changed since you last considered looking for work? If so, what are those boxes your new role should absolutely be ticking career and personal-wise? Having a clear idea of what to look for in your job search will help to make it a much more fruitful venture. 

Step 2: Enlist the help of a specialist

Once you’re set on the direction and purpose of your search, the next logical step 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.

A legal specialist will be particularly helpful if you are aiming to carry out your job search with discretion while currently employed. Not only will they help you do the  above but they can also ensure you are fully informed and in the know about the culture, vision, and values of the firms that you have in mind as well as provide guidance on how best to approach the other parts of the hiring process, including interview preparation, how to handle your notice period, and leave on good terms with your current employer. 

Step 3: Get your documentation in order  

Even in a world where 91% of all employers now use social media as part of their hiring process, the CV/Resume is still one of the most important tools any candidate has.

It is the first thing most employers will look at before even thinking about inviting someone to an interview. It’s also your best chance to immediately introduce your education and experience. Used correctly, your CV can improve your chances of getting the ideal job.

Unless you are searching for your very first legal role, you will need to make some time to update any existing or old documents, adding in your most recent experience and any new skills you’ve picked up (that are relevant for the role you want of course).

When listing previous roles, don’t just describe your responsibilities. Rather use it as an opportunity to showcase results you produced, and can produce for prospective employers by detailing your achievements in the role you’re describing. 

What you want to do here is take this opportunity to convince a hiring manager you’re the right fit for the role in question, and avoid the common mistake of using your CV as a catch-all document for every potential role. If you want to write a killer CV that stands out to prospective employers, it must be relevant to them. Research the firm, look over the job description and make a note of all the important qualities and experiences they value and then, tailor your CV accordingly.  

Step 4: Include a Cover Letter 

At Clayton Legal, we’ve long been advocates of the humble cover letter to create standout for our legal candidates and provide that golden opportunity to add personality and interest in the role, over and above a CV.

Without a cover letter, your job application is just another sheet of paper, or another PDF file on the computer screen – one often lacking in personality and excitement. It is also much more likely to be skimmed over and discarded; worse, not read at all.

However, that’s not to say that any old cover letter will do. Crafting a compelling cover letter seems to be somewhat of a dying art in recent times, and whilst it has certainly evolved, it is still a worthwhile document to have in your job-seeking armoury.

Whilst we have a number of top tips when it comes to cover letter etiquette, in short, keep it short. Keep it readable. Keep it relevant to the job offer. Get someone to check it. Above all, put some serious effort into making sure it’s as good as it possibly can be, as a lack of effort will rarely open the door to an interview.

Step 5: Carry out your due diligence

If you are considering moving into a different practice area, it goes without saying that you need to ensure you do your homework. Find out as much as you can about your chosen area of specialism by thorough research and attending relevant webinars and workshops, and consider what evidence there is to show that a different practice area can actually provide what you’re looking for. Networking can prove incredibly useful to this effect. Leverage professional networks, both online and offline, to connect with individuals that possess a background & experience you could greatly benefit from, and consider joining trade associations and special interest groups to stay informed on what opportunities that switching may or may not provide you. 

If you’re moving into a different kind of role – managerial perhaps, look at a range of job profiles in detail and prepare to demonstrate your suitability and knowledge of what will be involved. Linking this back to your own CV here is key.

Step 6: Get your digital footprint in order 

If you don’t already as a legal professional, ensure that you harness the power of LinkedIn in your job search as it will not only help to expand your network but also help to build a winning personal brand with a presence compelling enough to catch the eye of employers. This is what makes your LinkedIn profile one of the most important assets in your search. As a platform that provides immense value for professional relationships, learning how to utilise it can facilitate eventual life-long connections with potential mentors and employers. 

If you already have a strong online presence (be that on LinkedIn or in a personal capacity on other platforms) you should also make some time to check your digital footprint. Are there any posts or content that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see? Consider your privacy settings in the very least and give everything a thorough review with fresh eyes (profile pictures, bios etc).

Step 7: Prepare, prepare, prepare

Landing a new role is all about confidence. The more confident you are in yourself, the better chance you have of securing a new position when you get to the all-important interview stage.

This is where preparation is a non-negotiable.

Practising and preparing for potential and/or upcoming interviews equips you with not only the skills, but also the readiness to go into the interview room and effectively communicate your suitability to employers. Begin looking at the most common questions candidates are asked in interviews and draft your answers to match what they’ll be looking for in your responses.

On that note, it is worth practising adjusting your body language and facial expressions as those can often impact the first impression you’re trying to give more than what you actually say, considering it is something hiring managers will also pay particular attention to. There are also common mistakes to avoid in your preparation too, which we delve into here 

In Conclusion

Entering the job market can be daunting – whether at the start of your career, or part-way through (when you will have been through this process before). And, even if you find yourself back here after many years of employment, don’t assume the steps to success are the same as they always were.

The market continues to evolve for jobseekers and hirers alike – be that from a tech perspective, or the general landscape impacting decisions throughout the process.

That’s where enlisting the help of a specialist recruiter will undoubtedly pay dividends in the long run as they can help to map out your plan of attack, support with your documentation, and really help to elevate your profile in front of your next employer. And, if you’re still a little step behind and just want to weigh up your options, many will be more than happy to chat through market conditions and the opportunities out there at the moment.

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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Jobseeker Jargon: Are You Guilty?

  • July 25, 2023

When the time comes in your legal career to think about a move to pastures new, the steps involved to kickstart the process are generally conventional and familiar to most.

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.

Either way, there are usually a number of steps you yourself will need to take to ensure you are prepped and ready to apply for roles that pique your interest.

 

Designing a CV with Clout

It goes without saying that the most important document in your job-seeking armoury will be your CV – although a cover letter and possibly a video pitch may also be required depending on the role in question and the expectations of the hiring firm.

CVs are not a new concept. Far from it.

This document has been connecting qualified candidates with their ideal roles for centuries. In fact, according to The National Careers Service, the first curriculum vitae emerged in 1482 – written by a certain Leonardo Da Vinci when he applied for a local painting job.

The nature, style, and general role of the CV has changed since then, however. Whilst connections and status were crucial components of the CVs of yesteryear, these days there is more focus on skills, relevant experience, and demonstrable results that highlight capability.

Whilst much continues to be written about the usefulness of this document, for now at least, they remain a vital platform to market yourself as the right candidate for the role.

 

Mastering the Basics

A hiring manager, Partner, or HR professional will often skim-read a CV before making a snap ‘go/no-go’ decision about whether to progress to the next stage. This means the basic information needs to pop and jump out of the page.

The overriding objective should be to demonstrate suitability for the role in question, and ideally, the document should flex if you’re applying to more than one at a time – ensuing each is tailored to the specifics.

There are many guides as to what to include on your CV, but in our experience (of nearly 25 years and counting), the basic elements include:

  1. Up-to-date contact information
  2. Clear, concise formatting and layout
  3. Accurate grammar and spelling – a non-negotiable
  4. Selling points – achievements, relevance, USPs, experience (if it is relevant!)
  5. Facts and evidence
  6. Personality – what are your interests, passions, values?

 

Putting Pen To Paper

There are no two ways about it. Crafting a well-honed CV is a skill, and whilst you may be the most qualified and relevant individual in the pile of applications, failure to ‘sell’ yourself adequately may mean you are overlooked.

The Internet is saturated with ‘how-to’ guides, layout templates, and more recently, tools that utilise AI to write your CV for you (although the jury is still out on the effectiveness of this).

But mastering the basics is only the first part of the task in hand. You need to pay careful attention to the language you use as you highlight your skills and relevance – being mindful of cliches, hyperbole, and baseless language that actually could hinder your progress in the long run.

 

Cut The Cliches

The copy on your CV has to work hard to sell ‘you’, your relevant skills and experience, and give an initial indication of what you are like as a person and potential employee.

It can be tempting to fall into the trap of peppering your document with well-known cliches – in fact, you may not be aware that the phrases that spring to mind are even cliches in the first place. But taking time to weed out these overused (and often baseless) phrases may get your document to the top of the pile.

Here are the top 7 overused phrases that we come across, that you may wish to rethink (and suggestions of when, how, and why they need a little more care and attention)

  1. Hardworking and motivated: Your CV should have detail throughout that highlights specific accomplishments, experiences, and contributions that show your dedication and work ethic. This could be successful cases or settlements you have secured for clients, billable hours and productivity metrics, or even additional certification and training you have undertaken to enhance your skills and knowledge.

 

  1. Excellent communication skills: Again, consider how to showcase your communication abilities through specific achievements or experiences. Have you been a keynote speaker at a firm event for example, or run an internal forum? Are you involved in pitching for new business, or act as spokesperson for your current firm with the media? All are demonstrable examples that showcase the skill in question.

 

  1. Team player: Undeniably, employers will want to hire individuals that collaborate and work well with others – but dropping this statement on with little substantiation is pretty meaningless. Again, look for ways to bring this to life with concrete instances of teamwork. Have you worked as a team on a particularly complex legal case? Do you undertake any pro bono initiatives, or are part of a professional ‘group’ outside of the day job that involves working with others? All are great examples of how teamwork is pervasive in a law firm.

 

  1. Detail-oriented: Whatever your practice area specialism, this skill is crucial in the legal profession as it can significantly impact the outcome of cases, the accuracy of legal documents, and the overall quality of legal services provided to clients, Highlighting instances where your attention to detail made a difference is key – whether that work is in document review, part of an M&A transaction, or in compliance or regulatory matters.

 

  1. Results-driven: This phrase is most certainly over-used (usually with no examples of said ‘results’) yet there are other variances that can also demonstrate the same point. ‘Achievement-oriented’, ‘goals focused’, and ‘outcome-driven’ are more specific and impactful. Are you able to talk about case-management here, or strategic planning utilised to get the best possible result for your client and firm? Examples, again, are key.

 

  1. Works well under pressure: Legal professionals often encounter high-pressure situations, and the ability to work effectively in such conditions is an attractive trait to a future employer. Instead of just dropping this phrase on with no explanation is a big no-no however. Instead, discuss how you handled challenging situations and tight deadlines; your involvement in high-profile cases, or how you adapted to unexpected developments and had to adjust your strategy.

 

  1. Exceptional organisational skills: Most roles in a law firm require some level of organisation, whether that’s managing your own case files, a team of other legal professionals, or preparing for a trial. By using specific examples, especially those that are relevant to the role you are applying for, you provide concrete evidence of your capabilities and enhance the effectiveness of your CV and profile.

 

In Conclusion

Crafting an impressive CV requires going beyond generic statements and cliches and instead presenting a compelling narrative of your professional journey. By showcasing specific, relevant, and quantifiable evidence of your skills and accomplishments, you can create a CV that stands out and captures the attention of potential employers or clients.

If you have enlisted the help of a specialist legal recruiter for your job search, you will often find that your consultant will help to review your CV and role applications to ensure they stay on track, and work hard to move you further along in the process. Of course, the other benefit here is that the recruiter will further help to demonstrate your suitability verbally to those responsible for hiring – enhancing your profile far beyond a 2-3 page printed document.

And finally, even if some of the highlighted statements do creep in (even verbally as you move to interview stage) remember to always use concrete examples and measurable outcomes to demonstrate your abilities, skill, and above all, why YOU are the firm’s next hire.

 

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.

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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How to determine if it’s time to find your new legal job

  • April 3, 2023

Deciding to leave your current legal employer often feels like a big step. A new role can be intimidating, with new people to meet, processes to learn, and challenges to overcome. Not to mention, the process of searching for a new role can be daunting too.

While jumping from job to job aimlessly may not deliver the results you’re looking for, there are times when switching to a new employer can be very beneficial. In some cases, finding a new job comes with the advantages of a better firm culture, improved benefits, and new opportunities.

What’s more, with endless opportunities now available on the market, candidates have more options than ever before. Around 96% of employees globally say they’re thinking of starting a new position in 2023 according to a recent poll by Monster.com. So, how do you know if you should follow suit?

The key to success is making sure you’re taking this step for all the right reasons. Here’s how you can decide if it’s the right time to leave your current law firm.

1. Look at Opportunities for Growth

The best legal roles open the door to endless development and professional growth. To achieve your career goals, you need to ensure your current employer is committed to helping you expand, thrive, and succeed in the years to come.

Even if you’re relatively happy with your role as it stands today, a lack of development opportunities could mean you start to feel bored, restricted, or stunted.

  • Ask yourself if there are any “next steps” available in your current role.
  • What kind of approach does your employer take to promotions?
  • Can you work towards a higher-paying, more challenging role?
  • Are there any educational opportunities available to help you build transferable skills?

If your employer doesn’t allow you to gain certifications, attend conferences, or even explore opportunities for upward movement in the firm, it might be time to look elsewhere.

2. Ask Yourself if the Culture Meets Your Needs

Firm culture is more than just a buzzword. Several recent polls on LinkedIn indicate that over 80% of job seekers say they think a healthy culture at work is vital for success. When you first joined your law firm, you may have been relatively happy with the culture in place.

However, as you continue to grow as a professional, you might find that your priorities begin to change. For instance, if you’re looking for remote or flexible working options to allow you to manage any new family responsibilities, you may need to find a law firm with a more agile culture.

In some cases, the culture in a firm can also deteriorate over time. The leadership team there may stop actively investing in employee happiness and well-being, and new leaders and managers could start to create uncomfortable working environments. If you’re not happy with the culture, you’ll struggle to thrive in your role.

3. Watch for Signs of Burnout

If your current employer doesn’t invest a lot of time and effort into supporting employee wellbeing, you may begin to notice the repercussions in the form of physical and mental symptoms. Employee burnout has become increasingly common in recent years, due to inefficient work processes, a lack of stability, and complex digital transformations.

If you’re constantly feeling exhausted at work, taking more days off to care for yourself or find yourself dealing with excessive feelings of anxiety or stress, you could be on the verge of burnout.

Not only is burnout detrimental to your health, but it could impact your performance in the workplace, meaning your professional reputation begins to deteriorate. Speak to your employer about ways of tackling burnout before you consider leaving. If they can’t help, it might be time to look for a new legal role.

4. Consider Your Engagement and Motivation Levels

Many of us have days at work when we’d rather be at home with our families. Wishing you were elsewhere or watching the clock from time to time doesn’t necessarily mean you should leave your legal employer. However, if you never feel motivated, or you’re constantly disinterested in the work you’re doing, this could be a sign you’re in the wrong place.

Ask yourself what prompts you to go to work each morning.

  • Are you inspired by the vision of the firm?
  • Do you feel a connection to the values they share?
  • Or are you just trying to earn a pay-check?

If you don’t feel motivated to continue doing your best, your work quality could begin to suffer, which puts you at risk of repercussions later on.

If you’re no longer passionate about the work you’re doing, or the firm itself, it might be time to look for a role where you feel more engaged and excited about your position.

5. Are You Using Your Full Potential

Sometimes, even roles with clear job descriptions don’t turn out to deliver the experience we expected. Over time, your current position might evolve, to the point where you’re doing more of the tasks you dislike, and less of the jobs you feel inspired and motivated by.

While you don’t have to love every aspect of your job to be successful in your role, you should feel as though you have the opportunity to showcase your skills and reach your full potential. If your talents aren’t being utilised properly by your current employer, you might start to feel restless and unhappy in your job.

Before you leave your role, you could always consider asking your manager for opportunities to do more of the things you like or take on new challenges. However, if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut with no way out, it might be time for a change. To help gain more clarity on your career journey, we have put together a career checklist that you can use in conjunction with the above steps, which you can access here.

6. Consider the Feedback Experience

Finally, in order to succeed in any legal role, employees need regular feedback and guidance. You should be getting advice from your managers and supervisors on how you can improve your skills and boost your professional outcomes, so you can continue to grow.

At the same time, it’s important to feel as though you’re being recognised for your work. If your leaders never say “thank you” when you do a good job, and they’re terrible at providing rewards and recognition, then you’re more likely to feel unsatisfied in your role.

Again, you can consider speaking to your boss or HR team about your concerns, but don’t simply accept the sense of being “invisible”. Make sure you can feel like an active and appreciated part of your team, by looking for the right role.

Is it Time to Switch Employers?

There are countless reasons why an employee might choose to switch to a different legal role over time. While leaving your current job can be daunting, it can also be an important step in making sure you achieve your true potential and accomplish your professional goals.

If you think it might be time to seek out a new position, reaching out to a legal recruitment agency such as ourselves can be a big help in finding the right opportunities. They’ll be able to assist you in finding a position that offers the salary, benefits, support, development, and culture you’re looking for. If you’re looking to speak to our team and get your legal career back on track, you can contact us using this form here.

 

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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The 5 Signs of a Great Law Firm

  • December 6, 2022

Legal candidates are in an excellent position right now. With skill shortages plaguing the industry, there are more opportunities to move to great roles and companies than ever before. Moreover, you have more freedom about how you choose to work, with remote and hybrid roles emerging everywhere.

However, just because you have many options doesn’t mean defining the ideal firm to join is easy. Countless factors can influence whether a business is a good fit for you and your skills. Fail to consider them carefully, and you could end up in a role that doesn’t suit you.

Researching potential employers and the law firms you’re considering joining helps ensure you take the right next step in your career plan. Here’s how you can get started.

Before You Start Your Job Search

Preparation is key when searching for any new role. Rather than simply browsing endless job descriptions in search of something that mentions your qualifications, you should go on the journey with a clear action plan.

Start by defining exactly what you want as a candidate. What kind of career path are you working towards? Is there a specific role or certain duties within a role you’re most drawn towards? Are you looking for a firm that can help you work your way up through the ranks to a leadership position, or are you ready to start a management job immediately?

Working with a legal recruitment agency can be an excellent way to improve your chances of creating an effective plan. Your legal recruiter can discuss your career goals and help you define what you should be looking for in terms of benefits, remuneration, culture and more.

What’s more, once you’ve defined your plan with your recruiter, they’ll be able to position you in front of the right law firms, boosting your chances of the best job offer.

The 5 Signs of an Amazing Law Firm

With your career plan in hand, you’ll be able to start sorting your employment options with more focus. Following the Great Resignation, many law firms are currently searching for the top legal talent to stay ahead of the competition. Here are the signs to look for when narrowing your options.

1.    Shared Values

Most of today’s employees are looking for more than just a good salary from their employer. They also want meaningful work which resonates with their values. Around 42% of employees say they think it’s important for an employer to be diverse, inclusive, and equitable, according to a recent Gallup survey. A further 43% of candidates say they’re attracted to a new job based on meaningful work.

Take the time to research a law firm’s core mission statement and its vision for the future. Find what it’s aiming towards, what kind of goals it’s setting, and how every team member plays a part. Researching the firm will help you to determine whether it’s focused on values similar to your own, such as innovation or diversity.

You can also read reviews and testimonials from previous employees on places like Glassdoor and speak to ourselves as established recruiting experts in the field about the inner workings of a firm and general reputation.

2.    Strong Company Culture

46% of job seekers say company culture is important when deciding where they should work. A further 86% of candidates also say they actively avoid a company with a bad reputation. A company’s culture refers to everything from its approach to work to how it treats its employees.

For instance, you might find yourself drawn towards a firm with a strong wellness initiative designed to preserve team members’ mental and physical well-being. Alternatively, you may be more focused on a collaborative company culture, where everyone has a chance to contribute to the growth of the firm.

When seeking out good company culture, it’s worth looking for one with a strong sense of teamwork where employees are not only allowed but also encouraged to give their own input regarding important changes or potential challenges. You want to ensure that your skills and your input will be valued and your voice heard, especially when it matters. Ensuring that there is  evidence you’ll be appreciated in your role and rewarded for a job well done is also something to keep an eye out for Look out for any stories published online or on the firm’s own website about rewards given to high-performing team members or those that demonstrate the business’ values.

3.    Opportunities for Growth

While there’s always a chance you may need to move between law firms and roles to reach your career goals, every firm you work with should contribute to your growth. Having plenty of opportunities to learn sector-focused and transferable skills will ensure you can continue expanding your knowledge over time.Look for evidence that the firm in question is willing to train you on using new technologies and strategies as they emerge within your industry. It’s also worth discovering whether there’s room for lateral movement in your organisation as your expertise increases.

Find out whether team members are regularly offered promotions and opportunities to take on new challenges. This shows potential for a long future with the firm and can give you a better sense of the stability and security your role can offer.

4.    Excellent Benefits

While good remuneration is important for anyone looking for the ideal job, it’s important to think beyond the salary. The benefits offered by a firm give you an insight into what you can look forward to if you decide to join the team.

In today’s skill-short marketplace, many employers are beginning to offer a wider range of benefits, from flexible work schedules to four-day working weeks and equity options. If you’re looking for the opportunity to work in a hybrid or remote environment (around 50% of U.K. employees), it’s important to check if the firm can offer this.

Usually, you’ll be able to learn more about the benefits an employer can offer by checking the job description, visiting the organisation’s “Careers” page on its website, and speaking to your recruiter.

5.    Fantastic Leadership

Excellent leadership and good employee retention often go hand-in-hand for most businesses and firms. This is because legal employees rely on their leaders to provide motivation, support, and guidance. If you know the leadership team in your chosen firm is innovative, emotionally intelligent, and transparent, you’re more likely to feel comfortable in your role.

A good way to learn about a firm’s leadership practices is to check its website for stories about group accomplishments and business growth. You can also read the bio for the leaders of your potential team on the “About Us” page, and it may be you take this a step further by connecting with them on LinkedIn and build your professional network at the same time. Asking for an opportunity to speak to the people you’re going to be working with during the interview stage is also a good way to get a good idea of how they communicate and their general work ethic.

In short, the current market conditions mean that there is world of opportunity at the moment for ambitious legal professionals looking for a new role in line with their ambitions and career development. The potential downside of this however is the amount of choice and ‘golden opportunities’ make navigating the market difficult and time-consuming – especially for those already in a full-time job.

Trying to carve out some time to do your research however is essential, and creating somewhat of a checklist like this which allows you to assess the signs of a great law firm (and therefore, opportunity) will help to direct how you progress through to application stage.

Engaging with a legal recruiter can pay dividends here – not only in helping to understand the market and exclusive opportunities, but to talk candidly and confidentially about the Law Firms themselves in order to get your tick list completed and giving you a holistic view of what those crucial next steps look like.

 

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.

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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