The challenges of job hunting while working
Life as a solicitor brings long working hours and can be even more stressful if you feel you’re in the wrong role. But if you’re considering moving on, there are steps you can take to make job-hunting easier.
If your current firm doesn’t offer you a role after training, you’ll have to apply for new roles. However, you may have the option to stay but are having doubts whether the position is right for you in the long term. As a newly qualified solicitor, you’ll have a lot to learn in the next few years. If you change jobs, you’ll have to get used to new colleagues and different ways of working at this demanding time. If you’re not enjoying your work, then moving to an equivalent role with a similar employer may not bring the change you hoped for.
It’s worth looking to move, however, if your current position can’t offer you work in the practice area you’re interested in. If you’re going to sustain a career for the long term, it’s important to find an area of law that you’re going to find challenging and enjoyable in the long-term. You also need to consider where you want to be living in five or ten years.
It’s hard to predict what will happen as your career progresses, but it’s worth considering your chances of achieving partner with your current firm. If you feel your opportunities may be greater elsewhere, then moving within five years of qualifying will give you time to build experience in a firm with more opportunities. Perhaps you want to move in-house or work overseas.
Finding the time
A heavy workload and a long working day means finding the time needed to secure a new job is difficult. Fortunately, there are many recruitment agencies that can do some of the heavy lifting for you. Find two or three recruiters that have a good reputation for placing people in roles similar to the one you’re chasing. If you’re not sure what area of law you want to move into, they can advise you of your options. Reputable agencies pride themselves on being discreet, so make them aware if you don’t want your current employer to know you’re looking.
To maximise your chances, you’ll need to put some work in yourself. Ask a recruitment agency to help you create a succinct and targeted CV. It’s wise to always keep this updated, whether or not you’re actively looking for a role. Don’t waste energy on applications to firms that can’t give you the opportunities you’re looking for. Find those that have thriving departments in the area of law that interests you, and look into their record of developing and promoting their employees. You should also check for any benefits that are important to you, such as parental leave allowances.
Check review sites and make the most of networking opportunities to find out what the culture is like. Somewhere that fits the bill on paper may not suit you or the way you work. Check for vacancies on your targeted firms’ websites. If they aren’t advertising, you could even try a speculative approach.
Let them find you
A LinkedIn profile could put you on the radar of recruiters and head-hunters. You don’t need to indicate that you’re actively looking for a role. If you’re approached, keep a level head. It’s flattering to feel you’ve caught a recruiter’s attention, but be clear that the role is right for you before spending time and effort taking it further. Twitter can also alert you to vacancies, but make sure your account is kept exclusively for work-related content or create a second. Avoid uploading your CV to job-match sites where you have little control of who can access it.
If you secure an interview through a recruitment agency, they ought to be able to tell you what to expect at each stage. If you apply for the role yourself, read any information sent to you carefully and be prepared to talk through your CV. If you did the research before you applied, you should know a reasonable amount about the firm. Make sure you also find out about those who are interviewing you and prepare some questions for them.
January and March are considered to be key recruitment months for law firms, but you can start your search at any time. Keep in mind that finding the right role could take several months.
Every job will have periods of hard slog as well as rewarding work. Moving firms is a big decision, but it could be the way to get your career back on track and reignite your interest in the law.