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Cut The Chaff: Why Knowing What To Leave OFF Your CV Is As Important As What To Include

  • February 20, 2024

As one of the most important documents in the first stage of a legal candidate’s job search (alongside the LinkedIn profile), the CV is arguably an inexhaustible topic of discussion for hirers and legal professionals alike, particularly where relevance, structure and formatting are concerned. And although these are still very much pertinent, an equally crucial – and often overlooked – aspect of CV crafting is the skill of knowing what has no place on it, and what can be detrimental to its effectiveness.  

Spending time reviewing and improving your CV is undoubtedly time well spent, although you should never just cram it with additional points if they aren’t going to add value to any application or to enhance your profile. 

Ensuring there is the right amount of information on the document to demonstrate suitability for the role is important, but it’s a fine balance to ensure that it is to the point and not full of distractions or waffle – especially when you consider that hiring managers and recruiters take only a few seconds to scan the document and make a decision to progress, or not. 

As such, it’s always worth considering what information serves little to no purpose in your CV and worse, is potentially squandering your prospects altogether…  

Less is More 

Starting with the often-overlooked but opening information, things like your age, marital status, and arguably personal hobbies should not be in your CV as they not only hold little relevance to the position (and thus, little value to a hirer ) but they can potentially prove detrimental to your efforts, as in having them present they waste the precious time your CV has been afforded to catch a hiring manager’s eye, and can introduce an unconscious bias towards applicants of certain age groups or demographic.  

If you do want to add in a short section about interests outside of work, it’s usually best to give this no more than a few lines – you can always leave talking about this personal element in your profile to the interview itself. These should also fit in with the professional persona you wish to portray = so talking about how you love going out with your friends on an evening, or a vanilla ‘I like doing exercise’ are taking up precious real estate on the page that can be much better-utilised. 

Cull the Obvious 

Similarly, any notices informing employers that ‘references are available upon request’ are unnecessary and should be taken out. This is already implied through your job application itself and so is an obvious fact that doesn’t need reiterating in your CV. The same thing applies to any ‘salary negotiable’ statements – this is not new or unexpected information to employers and is needlessly taking up space. Ultimately, any generalist information that doesn’t communicate what the hiring firm will be looking for in your CV shouldn’t be included and failure to keep your CV clutter-free can give off the impression that little effort has gone into tailoring it for the role, and that it is being used as a catch-all document for multiple job applications. 

If you’re wondering why that might be that off-putting to recruiting firms, it is because it is one of the tell-tale signs of a spray-and-pray job application approach. And whether intentional or not, it is a surefire way to get yours binned. 

Avoid the Jobseeker Jargon Trap 

Pertinent to this is the common mistake of peppering a CV with all sorts of jargon and cliches, which is just as damaging to a candidate’s prospects if not more. When writing a CV to present as compelling a narrative of your professional journey as possible, the use of certain phrases or buzzwords to ‘doll up’ one’s profile can be a tempting move (and it may be the case that these have slipped into your vernacular simply due to ignorance); however, is an all-too-familiar ploy to employers, and an eyesore they will readily want to avoid, especially if such statements or phrases aren’t backed up by any quantifiable evidence.  

The language you use to highlight your skills and suitability is every bit as important as the information it is trying to convey and requires just as much thought and consideration. As such, a sense check of where your CV leans more on generic statements instead of measurable results, and how it can be better-written is essential if you’re aiming to craft one that catches the eye. 

With the widespread adoption of the likes of ChatGPT and other AI tools, it’s also worth considering how such tools can help (or hinder) in this regard. 

If you do choose to utilise an AI tool to support, it is a well-known no-no to write the whole document from scratch, simply because it increases the likelihood of fabricated details being added to your draft. A better approach would be to do it section by section, beginning with your personal statement, then your experience & responsibilities, then your achievements, and so on. This not only helps to avoid having false information but it also makes it easier to spot it as you work through your draft section by section, should it still be added in, and allows you to better format your CV while doing so. 

Click here for more information on how to avoid the jobseeker jargon trap. 

Filter Out the Chaff 

This applies to any other kind of passive language present in your CV or anything speculative, such as extensive lists of job roles and responsibilities without any relevant accomplishments. A career is not something that just happened to you and should never be treated as such by the language you use to describe why you are a good fit for the role.  

Your CV should be filled with examples where you actively take credit for your work and achievements to quantify your value as a potential hire, and where this is absent it signals a lack of confidence in your suitability as a candidate to hirers, which can seriously hurt your chances of employment. Remember that firms want to ensure their investment in a candidate is going to yield encouraging results, and if your CV doesn’t give them the impression that you are worth that investment, they will waste no time with time consuming interview process. 

Finally, 

When it comes to the communication of information through any media, what is said is so often what comprises the subject of discussion, when it is really how such information is structured and conveyed and – at times, what is omitted – that tends to make the difference in how it is processed and interpreted.  

This is what underpins the skill of CV crafting and where the ones that top the pile shine – no matter the role, specialism or sector in question. When every second counts with your prospects on the line, your CV needs to sell you in as clear and compelling a manner as possible – a feat we as recruiters are very much aware can be tricky at times, even for the most experienced of legal professionals. That’s why at Clayton Legal, our expertise goes beyond  the often perceived ‘transactional’ process of matching CVs to open roles. 

We are every bit as committed to empowering the legal professionals we work with to present themselves as the first choice hire, whether that be at the initial screening or interview stages. If your next career move seems to be very much on the horizon but needs clarity with regard to the way forward, we are here to help. Give us a call on 01772 259 121 or contact us here. 

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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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Are You Still In Love With Your Legal Job?

  • November 21, 2023

Find a job doing what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

It’s a common adage, but what does it really mean to “love” your job? Do people who love their never wish they spent their days kicking their feet up at home instead of being in the thick of it at work? Are people who love their jobs less likely to procrastinate, get caught up in a daydream, or have the odd bad day at the office?

Not necessarily.

Every position, even the one you can only dream of attaining, comes with a few pesky tasks you’d probably rather avoid. Loving your job isn’t synonymous with always having an unwavering passion to spend more time in the office than at home.

It simply means that when you do work, you’re passionate about what you do, find it highly engaging, and are committed to giving your best in your position with your chosen employer.

As we approach the year’s end, many will be assessing their options to gauge how well their needs are being met on a personal and professional level and among these, will have their career satisfaction and development front of mind.

If you find yourself in a similar vein of thought, then now is a good time for a little introspection regarding where your heart is at. Here’s how you can figure out if your love and passion for what you do is still going strong or if it might be time to move on to new pastures.

1. What Motivates You to Show Up?

If you do profess to love your job, then your biggest sources of motivation should transcend the monetary value it brings. Yes, money can certainly be a strong driver of performance, particularly in this line of work, but your first answer to the “why do I have this job” question shouldn’t be “it pays the bills”; if it is then something is amiss. If your motivations are primarily financial, then you’re working to check off tasks on a to-do list.

With this in mind, it’s worth looking at your biggest reasons for sticking with your current role. Do you share the same values and vision as the firm? Does it give you a sense of purpose, and do you enjoy the challenges that your work brings you day-to-day?

If you find that you’re failing to derive much fulfilment or lack any non-monetary sources of motivation, then the biggest favour you can do for your career right now is to have an honest conversation, both with yourself and with a specialist legal recruiter about what steps you can take to realign your current position with your present ambitions. After all, endless alternatives exist for the right talented professional.

2. Do you love the job but not the firm?

When you look at yourself 3 to 5 years from now, what future do you envision for your career? Do you see yourself working with the same firm, but further up the ladder in a position with a greater degree of responsibility? Does the thought of building your career there excite you? Or do you see your future taking your career in an entirely different direction?

If you find it difficult to see a clear path of progression at your current firm then it might be worth asking yourself if where you are now is really beneficial for your career, even if you do love what you do at present. What you don’t want is to find yourself 5 years from now in a position where the advice given in this piece rings true for your present situation. Sometimes, the best move for your career is a move away from your comfort zone.

3. Does Your Firm Love You Back?

Any good relationship is a two-way street. You can pour all your sweat, blood and tears into a role, but if this isn’t reciprocated by your firm, the relationship between both parties will quickly turn sour.

Ask yourself how you demonstrate your commitment to the business and also how (and if) your employer and the wider firm supports you in return. What kind of culture is the firm building, and how does it contribute to facilitating individual success from a performance and inclusivity standpoint? How frequently do your managers or team leaders share feedback with you through recognition and reward? Do you find your hard work to often go unnoticed? If your firm doesn’t make much of an effort to recognise its employees as valued members of the business, then there’s a good chance that your love for it will diminish over time.

4. Is Your Firm Invested in You?

If you’re deeply passionate about your role, chances are you dedicate a significant portion of your time and energy to your job. Perhaps you go the extra mile, ensuring that you deliver nothing less than the best on any project or case, and work to continuously add to your value as an asset. While your firm’s growth and success is certainly reliant on your level of commitment, it is once again important to consider how much this is reciprocated. How invested is your firm in your own growth? Are there regular conversations about your plan for and goals in development in check-ins or reviews? Does your manager take a proactive approach to supporting you in meeting your objectives?

Do you have access to in-house resources and training to upskill?

Or are you regarded as the sole person responsible in your firm for broadening your skillset? A company committed to nurturing the relationship between the business and its employees will consistently invest in its staff. Your engagement will eventually drop if or when you sense a lack of commitment from your firm in this area.

Is the Love Still There?

Over time, your love for your role will either flourish or wilt depending on your day-to-day experience on the job; and if the firm you work with is as invested and committed to helping you grow as you are to it, then the future is certainly bright for your career.

On the other hand, if you discover that over time, your love for your job begins to dwindle or aren’t sold on the prospect of building your career a growing with them, you can always look for other opportunities to find new love with a different firm.

If your general job satisfaction for either your current role, and/or your employer isn’t as strong as it once was, now could be the perfect time to start getting back on the playing field.

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

To help you measure if your legal career is progressing as you envisaged when you started out, we have created an easy-to-follow checklist to provide you with a snapshot of whether you’re on the right track.

The back end of a calendar year may seem like a strange point in time to begin your job search – but those considering a New Year opportunity should take heed of the fact that many will be ‘on the market’ as it were in January – making the aforementioned playing field that bit more competitive. What’s more, the festive period is often a time when individuals will have that much more time to dedicate to CV-updates and job applications.

So do get ahead of the curve and use these next few weeks wisely to reflect, review, and take action if needed.

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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Take The Stress Out Of Your Legal Job Search: Use A Specialist Recruiter

  • November 1, 2023

The amount of stress that searching for the right role to advance one’s career can cause, is no secret to any legal professional. Time constraints, mounting case workloads and the resulting pressure to juggle work and personal commitments are just some of the struggles candidates often have to deal with. And that’s not even mentioning the rejection emails or calls jobseekers will inevitably have to face as part of the process, before beginning to make headway in their job search.

While a little stress can be useful for certain situations, high stress levels can quickly wear us down and drain our mental resources, robbing us of the energy, motivation and headspace we need to tackle daily challenges head-on. As many as 79% of workers around the UK have cited the source of their stress to be work-related this year, with 74% saying it has reached a level that has made them unable to cope.

Considering how demanding job-searching can be, having to deal with unbearable levels of stress is not exactly helpful when needing to be on your A-game to network effectively and make the best possible impression on prospective employers.

This is where the option of enlisting the help of a specialist recruiter would be a game-changer for legal candidates. Not only does it save you an inordinate amount of time, but it spares you the hassle you would otherwise have to contend with if you were job-hunting alone.

Here are just some of the many benefits you can gain from working with one:

A Time-Efficient Job Search

Many will be well aware of how daunting and time-consuming a job search can be, especially if you’re already employed and are trying to find a better role elsewhere. Being one of your most important resources as a legal professional, you stand to benefit greatly from utilising the services of a specialist recruiter as it significantly cuts down the time spent on scouring job boards and websites. Due to the vast network, connections and knowledge they possess of the industry, they are in the best position to find you a role that ticks all your boxes. As a result, what might have taken you months can easily be achieved in weeks or even days.

In some cases, consultants will already know in advance if a particular firm is actively on the hiring market before a vacancy is even posted. Leading firms often utilise agencies, because it’s a more efficient way for them to hire the right person. Rather than searching for opportunities that may not be visible online, you could save a considerable amount of time by working with an expert.

Valuable Market Insight & Access to Connections

While job boards can be a useful resource for identifying opportunities, firms will often opt to use their network and their recruitment company’s network to seek the right people for most fee-earner/niche roles, rather than advertising them online. The reason for this is that candidates who are right for these particular roles are often in demand and are either not on the market or are not actively seeking new employment opportunities. With a skills-short market currently making the fight for top legal talent more intense than ever, prospective employers are far more likely to rely on the help of a specialist legal recruiter to source the right candidate for their firm.

With a recruiter on-hand, you gain instant access to the information they hold about all relevant roles in the industry and current trends in the market. A good specialist recruiter will utilise the insight their network provides them to find the right fit for you, culture and skills-wise. By acting as a representative for both you and the firm, a specialist recruiter will facilitate the communication process, and ensure that the firm you are interested in is a good cultural fit for you.

Expert Guidance to Boost Interview Performance

Certainly, the most stressful part of searching for any new job is the dreaded interview stage which can be particularly daunting if it has been a while since your last interview. That’s where a specialist recruiter earns their keep, as they exist to make all parts of the transition from your current role to a new one as stress-free as possible. They are therefore always on-hand to help you prepare for the big day and offer career-specific guidance on how to approach your interview preparation accordingly.

As they are well-informed of the current hiring trends and practices adopted by employers, it is undoubtedly in your best interest to take onboard any advice they give regarding common and tricky interview questions, body language and even things like dress code and travel logistics.

They Will Negotiate the Best Deal for You

Getting an offer of employment for a role that you’ve long been in search for is half the battle; the other half is of course getting what you want (what you feel you’re worth) in terms of remuneration. Salary negotiation can often be a tricky and awkward conversation with a future employer, especially at such a sensitive stage of your relationship, and so it is best to let a legal recruiter handle such discourse. In addition to ensuring that you get the best possible deal when it comes to pay and benefits, they will also iron out other important parts of the deal such as notice periods, start dates and career development opportunities available to you in your new role.

Personalised Support – Your Success is Their Success

One of the biggest advantages of job-hunting with a specialist recruiter is the vested interest and understanding they will have of your particular needs on both a personal and professional level. What you’re looking for in an employer in terms of culture, values flexibility, role and ‘fit’ can be difficult to find and even articulate at times, especially as these are not always reflected in the job descriptions. This means candidates are often left to gauge where the best fit is for their career. Whereas by working with a legal recruiter they will not only have a firm grasp of what your priorities are but will also ensure they – and you – are well-sold to the firm in question.

It is therefore in their own best interest to be selective on your behalf with regard to vacancies; by choosing the most suitable roles for their candidates to maximize success, which will not only reduce the competition candidates face for each role, but also improve their chances of getting hired. Their success lies in their ability to see to it that you’re happy in your desired role as it means they are successful with their client – a win-win for everyone.

If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you. Contact us here or call the office on 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

About Clayton Legal

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

If you are looking for a new legal position or just want to speak to a recruitment expert about the current market, call our team on 01772 259121 or click here to submit your CV.

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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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Is It Really Possible to Retrain From One Branch Of Law To Another?

  • September 15, 2023

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

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

Step 1: Assess If You Might Be Jumping The Gun

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 2: Conduct An Honest Self-Assessment

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

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

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

Step 3: Do Your Research

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

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

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

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

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

You may however need to consider the following options:

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

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

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

Step 5: Consider Other Options To Boost Your Experience

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

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

Step 6: Get Your Marketing Collateral In Order

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

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

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

Could you focus on the following for example?

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

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

Step 7: Seek Guidance From The Get-Go

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

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

In Conclusion

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

About Clayton Legal 

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

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

 

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How to Get on the Radar of a Legal Recruiter

  • September 15, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting The Basics Down

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

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

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

Conduct An Online Health Check

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Spotlighting Your Skillset?

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

Could you talk about any of the following perhaps?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does The Shoe Fit?

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

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

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

Be Proactive

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

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

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

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

Next Steps

If you’re here because you believe a move is on the cards at this stage of your career, you’ve come to the right place. Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.  

If you want to finally take the uncertainty out of your job search, give our team a call on 01772 259 121 or email us here. 

 

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Time to move on? Top 10 Tips to resign gracefully

  • September 5, 2023

With the prospect of a new role on the horizon, arguably the hard bit is done. You have aced your interviews, impressed your new Firm, and are no doubt looking to the future and the next steps in your career.

But even with the excitement of a new legal position looming, there is still an incredibly important step to take in making that move – handing in your resignation to your current Firm.

Here we offer our top tips on how to address this often-uncomfortable conversation – and ultimately remain professional, and on good terms as you exit the business.

1. Communicate To Your Manager First

With an exciting new role to look forward to, it can be tempting to tell close associates and friends, however the first person who should hear about it is your reporting manager. If a senior partner, or even your Manager themselves hears about your intention to leave from another colleague, it goes without saying that it won’t leave a favourable impression which is ultimately what a well-thought our resignation is trying to achieve.

Arrange a time to speak to your Manager and let them know the situation first. Face-to-face is ideal as it minimises any misunderstandings or miscommunication, although video call would also work well for those who work remotely or in order to expedite the process.  It is best practice to verbally tell your Manager of your intention to leave along with the reasons that have led to that decision as it is highly likely that you will be asked both why you are leaving and where you are going to – so it’s wise to have a response planned.

2. Be Prepared For Conversations Around Negotiation

Whatever the reason or reasons for leaving your current firm, it is always worth having a preliminary conversation before you start looking for new opportunities, to see if those initial reasons may be overcome. If, however that conversation didn’t take place, you should nevertheless consider what you would do should a counter-offer be on the table once you make your intention to resign clear.

In the current market, where demand for legal professionals is outstripping supply, this is exceptionally common, so you need to at least be prepared for such a scenario and ask yourself, would you actually accept a counter-offer?. The answer to that lies in ultimately revisiting the reasons you wish to leave in the first place.

Counter-offers take many forms including increased pay, a promotion, enhanced benefits, or a combination of all of those, and there is no doubt that it can feel flattering to be in that position. However, research suggests that 80% of people who accept a counter-offer tend to leave within 6-12 months of accepting. Is it likely you’ll also be part of that statistic?

3. Prepare Your Resignation Letter

Once the decision to leave is final, you must put this in writing. When it comes to your resignation letter, it should be short and polite. Within the letter itself, it is not necessary to justify your reasons for leaving your current law firm or go into lengthy explanations as you can are likely to have (or have had) a more informal chat about this with your reporting Manager. The document is simply to cover the legalities of ending your contractual agreement with your employer and will be kept on record, so details like the date of the notice, confirmation of notice period, and last working day should be accurate.

You may wish to use the formal communication as an opportunity to highlight things you are grateful for – skills you have learnt, help and advice you have received, and opportunities to boost your legal career that have been offered, but that is not mandatory. Do, however avoid the temptation to criticise your colleagues, boss, partners or clients.

4. Discuss Those Finer Details

Your Manager will most likely want to discuss with you the finer details around how and when you will let colleagues know you are leaving. You may wish to inform them individually, or as a group, or have your Manager tell them for you.

You also need to confirm your notice period and how this affects your new role start date. This should be communicated clearly in your contract of employment, but it is always worth a conversation on whether it is realistic to shorten this (if desired by any party) or even extend it on request.

Whether your notice period is 2 weeks, 2 months or anything in between, its important you are aware of this before giving your new employer a start date that you may not be able to commit to. Be prepared that in some cases, you may be placed on gardening leave rather than working your notice period.

Garden leave (or gardening leave) is when an employer tells an employee not to work either part or all of their notice period. This could be because the employer does not want the employee to have access to sensitive or confidential information they could use in a new job (Source: ACAS) In this case, you are still employed by your employer, just not working for them and therefore you are still entitled to your salary and contractual agreements in this period of time.

5. Plan A Robust Handover

Scheduling time to plan for a smooth transition shows you to be a true legal professional and not someone who leaves a law firm or an employer in the lurch, or projects unfinished. Think about your specific areas of responsibility – current caseloads, unfinished assignments, urgent jobs and upcoming commitments, as well as information on your clients that your successor or wider team will need.

If possible, invest some time in training up your successor, or at least making formal handover notes, to ensure you minimise the impact on the firm when you leave and once again, keep the working relationship positive.

6. Start Clearing Your Desk

Once colleagues are aware that you are leaving, you can start to clear your desk so that it’s ready for the next occupant. Removing paperwork, filing and archiving, binning wastepaper and taking personal items such as photographs home will ensure your workplace is ready, clean and welcoming for the next person.

7. Stay Committed

It may be tempting to spend time planning what you will do in your upcoming new legal role (and if time permits, there is definitely merit in keeping in touch with your new employer during your notice period – following their social media accounts to keep track of the latest news, be aware of any networking events etc) but nevertheless, you are still being paid to do your current job – so it’s important to remain committed to that role until the very end.

Remaining an active team player, working hard up to the last minute and completing casework where possible will be noted by colleagues and your employer and will ensure you leave on a positive note – and your professional reputation within the legal community follows you as you move on.

8. Embrace The Exit Interview

If you are offered an exit interview by your law firm, it’s always a good idea to take that opportunity while you can. These usually take place between yourself and a HR manager and are aimed at establishing any way in which they can improve the firm or addressing issues of which they may be unaware of.

While you can, at this point, bring to light any concerns you might have, keep your observations professional and your criticism constructive, always keeping in mind not to burn any bridges.

Taking these steps will not only provide closure on your previous role but will ensure you leave your law firm a well-respected and professional ex-colleague, with whom your former team and senior partners will be happy to network with and recommend in the future.

Next Steps

If you need any more general guidance as you exit one role for another, or are at the very start of your search for a new opportunity, do give our recruitment specialists a call today.

 

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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