Looking to make a career move?
Recently, Lifestyles4Lawyers launched its Legal Jobs board and, as part of this new feature of the site, we will have regular contributions from our partnering recruitment consultants and other experts in this field to guide you through the maze that is your career.
To kick things off, we are looking at tips for job hunting: some dos and don’ts for what is a massively important decision for your career and that impacts on your life as a whole. It’s stressful and will sometimes make you question the decisions you are making, but if done properly, will give you what you are looking for.
Do think carefully about what you want to change
Are you unhappy or unfulfilled at your current firm, or is it something deeper? Could it in fact be that you are no longer getting fulfilment from the legal profession? If this is the real issue, then moving to a new firm may not be the answer. However, before you decide to jump the legal ship, be very sure that your problem is this fundamental. It may be that you simply need a new challenge within the profession because you are not getting it where you are. An earlier article we wrote discussed the importance of keeping staff happy and it could be that what you are looking for is work that tests your abilities further.
Have in your mind the exact reason why you want the move. Is it to progress your career? Or do you want to wind down with less time at the office? Are you purely motivated money? Or do you want to specialise in one particularly area, but cannot do this at your current firm?
Have you talked to your employer or head of department about your concerns? As a valued member of the team, your boss will want to know if you are unhappy and will try to accommodate you where possible. If you don’t feel valued, then perhaps it is time to move on.
Be confident, but be prepared
Make sure your CV is always up-to-date. That might sound like a tip to always have one eye on something better, but your CV is also your record of career achievements. If too much time goes by, you might not remember that complex deal in sufficient detail to really sell what you did.
Next, make sure your CV is tailored to your potential new employers by doing plenty of research. If your skills don’t match their requirements, then it won’t matter how great you think you are. Knowing the firms you are applying to will enable you to show the value you can add to them. Because that’s what it comes down to: not what you can do, but what you can do for them.
Be proactive There are jobs boards – none better than Lifestyles4Lawyers’ Legal Jobs – but don’t wait for jobs vacancies to come to you. Not all jobs are advertised and some firms will create jobs for high quality lawyers with something unique to offer. So when you do your research, look at firms that might not necessarily have vacancies, but that you feel you could bring something new and valuable to.
Take the opportunity to do some really good networking. And by ‘networking’ we mean both social media and speaking to real people. If you have built up your professional network, there’s no better place to start than contacting people you know. While you may not want to necessarily tell people you are looking for another job, it is an opportunity to sell yourself directly with decision-makers. Networking is part of the job these days and the more you do it, the more confident you will get and the more doors may open up for you.
Don’t give up, don’t lose focus
Once you know what you want, then go for it because the right career is out there for you, whether it is in law or out of it. For those of you who just want a change of employer, there will be a firm out there that fits you. It requires you to show your commitment and desire to work there, so always be at the top of your game because employers respond to the vibe that you give off. If you go into an interview and appear too laid back, even if you really want it, you won’t give off the right impression and the people interviewing you won’t think you want the job. Go for confident and relaxed. The people on the other side of the desk know that interviews are nerve-wracking, so if you can keep your cool, but express your desire to work for them, you’ll show them you are a cool customer that can cope under pressure.
And don’t forget to show at every interview what you can do – but remember, it’s what you can do for them.