Even the most optimistic Brexiteers acknowledge that it is likely to take at least a couple of years to resolve the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU. Some predict it could take a decade. With uncertainty the only certainty, the natural first instinct may well be to batten down the hatches and enjoy life as part of the furniture. But what does this mean for your career?
Whichever side of the great debate you are on, the likelihood is that our foreseeable future will be characterised by rapid peaks and troughs in market confidence as events take their course. It may be years before there is an ideal time to make a career move and in an industry that remains fixated on PQE, a hiatus of that length could be career defining, in a bad way. In short, if you’re in the wrong job, sitting tight and waiting for stability is not a viable option.
If you have recovered from the revelation that a recruiter is recommending youconsider your options, take a look at our five practical steps for minimising the risk of changing jobs in an unpredictable market.
- Find out why the job exists. Is it growth or replacement? If it is growth, what is the business case behind it? Where is the workflow coming from? Has it been sustained over a period of time? What are the expectations for the next 12 or 24 months? If it is replacement, why did the last person move on?
- Press the firm on utilisation rates. Are lawyers in the team busy? What hours have they been billing and what are they forecasted to bill this year? What would the expectations be if you were to join? Simply, if you are joining a very busy team, they are more likely to be in a strong position to withstand fluctuations in workflow.
- Discuss their Brexit strategy. Law firms and Partners, like the rest of us, will have considered the impact of the referendum result on their business. Asking their opinions on the likely impact (both on the department and the firm as a whole) shows commercial awareness. Be prepared to discuss your views on how you think the Brexit fallout is likely to affect workflows in your area of practice (and ideally your ideas on how to combat it).
- Research the firm. Even in the depths of the global financial crisis, some firms were quietly picking up talent that they would previously have found difficult to attract. The legal sector carries multiple examples of firms who have been made in challenging times. The situation now is nothing like then but make no mistake, strong firms will be utilising any softening in the recruitment market to strengthen their team’s capabilities. These are the firms to join.
- Be positive. If you find a role in a busy team where reasons for hiring are sound, in a firm that has a sensible Brexit plan and a good track record of growth over the last ten years, back yourself. There are few signs of impending doom in the recruitment market, but what if the worst was to happen? Is your current role really any safer? Our experience of 2009 taught us that the days of loyalty via longevity are over. Far better to be in the right firm making a positive contribution than keeping your head down and hoping for the best.
The legal recruitment market remains good with plenty of opportunities worldwide for lawyers at all levels to move their careers forward. Whilst some opportunisticroles in have been put on temporary hold, far more jobs are sitting unfilled as firms continue to compete fiercely for the best hires. Make the right move now and it could be career defining...in a good way.
If you are interested in discussing your next career move or finding out more about opportunities for lawyers globally, please feel free to connect. Jason Horobin (Origin Legal).