The last six months has been a period of uncharted career navigation, but there are some promising signs on the horizon. The indicators are that you should not put your career goals on hold. Now is the time to keep the momentum on your career search going, or to stretch those creaky muscles so you can get your legal search started again.
Just in the last week, news broke that at least 10 Big Law firms have limited their pay cuts or ended their pay cuts altogether. Some firms are finding that they have enjoyed a better-than-expected financial showing during the pandemic so far and that they want to attract and keep top talent. While there is still a fear that the worst of the pandemic is not entirely behind us financially, Big Law has seen an increase of overall revenue by about 5.3 percent in 2020. Similarly, as reported by Corporate Counsel, in house hiring remains steady, and there were a healthy number of top lawyer appointments amid Covid-19. We are seeing demand across a range of industries, from life sciences, to energy, financial services, and healthcare.
Thus, the easing of financial austerity measures by the top firms and organizations will certainly ripple across the industry as companies and firms do whatever they can to compete for highly skilled lawyers. That is why getting focused again on your legal search is worthwhile.
In this article, we will focus on the five things that legal search professionals need to know when you are starting your career search. Indeed, being transparent with your legal search professional is the key to the success of your partnership, and ultimately your next career move.
As a lawyer, you know that preparation is everything. So, making sure that your legal search professional is prepared with all of the necessary information about you can only improve your search and placement chances.
#1 – The Firms and Companies That You Have Already Contacted
It is all too tempting to see if a legal search professional will have any better luck with a firm or in-house position that you really want. Thus, you may be inclined to avoid telling your legal search professional about having already reached out to a particular employer, thinking that the legal recruiter might give you a “second chance at making a first impression.” Or, conversely, you might think that having a second submission will keep you “top of mind” with that particular employer.
We’re here to tell you that you should avoid those temptations. It is a “black letter law” in the legal search world that firms and in-house departments do not like when your resume package is submitted multiple times by you and through additional sources for the same opportunity. Moreover, double submissions may make you look like your search is not organized, or worse – desperate, and may result in a conflict of interest where no one wins. Accordingly, be sure to disclose to your legal recruiter all the companies and firms that you have already contacted or with whom you have interviewed.
#2 – Why Move?
Legal recruiters certainly care about what you have to offer as a candidate, but they also need to know why you are making a move. Motivation is everything. If there are certain pain points – for example, you find building a book of business far too stressful – then it is suitable for your recruiter to know that. When your legal search professional can understand what makes you tick, then he/she can shape your legal search so that you have opportunities that will maximize the things you like and minimize the things you don’t.
You want to be moving toward a new opportunity as opposed to running away from something in your current position. What are you looking to garner in the new opportunity that may not be present in your current role?
#3 – Expectations on Pay
There is no need to tell your legal search professional what you are currently making, and in many states, recruiters and prospective employers are prohibited from asking you about your current compensation. However, it is crucial that your legal search professional (and a potential employer) understands your compensation expectations. That information will be beneficial in allowing your legal recruiter to focus on those opportunities that are worth pursuing. As you would expect, it would be a waste of your time and the employer’s time to consider a position that does not meet your needs.
#4 – Your Work Experience – All of It
You may have something in your work history that you might think was too short to be relevant or is something you would rather keep off the resume altogether. We all have those. Yet, you should tell your legal search professional about it, so you can strategize how to deal with the information. A time gap in a resume is always a red flag to an interviewer. So, it is better to be upfront with your legal recruiter, so you can figure out how to deal with the information, rather than hope that it will go away.
Clearly, one of the worst things that could happen during a search is that a potential employer learns about some experience in your past that is not on your resume or does not lend itself to an obvious explanation. If that happens, then your credibility takes a big hit. However, if your legal search professional knows your entire history, then he or she will counsel you on the best way to handle it when interviewing.
#5 – Time and Place
What we mean by “time and place” is when you would prefer to make a move, and where you would be willing to move. Even though we are in job-search mode, life goes on. Accordingly, if you need to stay with your current employer for several months (not just two weeks) before you can take on a new role, then let your legal recruiter know that. Again, if she/he has the information ahead of time, they will be able to manage expectations upfront.
Similarly, help your legal search professional narrow the scope of your search by letting them know where you would be willing to move, or what kind of commute you would accept given your current residence. As with all of the tips in this article, there is a significant benefit to preparing your legal search professional ahead of time. The fewer surprises, the smoother the career transition and on-boarding to your next employer.
Knowledge is power, and that adage applies to legal search professionals as well. The more information your legal recruiter has about you and what you want, the better your legal recruiter will be able to find the opportunity that is the perfect fit for you.