Navigating a Job Search in a Hot Market as an Associate

I’ve been noticing a lot of lateral hiring in the legal profession this year. Some associates are being poached with multiple offers. Many associates are testing the waters to see what’s out there.  All associates need to have the below three things ready in their arsenal for a job search in a hot market.

1. Update Your Résumé

When someone reaches out to you with a job opportunity, you will feel pressure if you don’t have an updated résumé ready to share.  Do you know how I know this?  Because I receive countless calls for help to update résumés overnight.  While I’d love to help everyone who reaches out to me, it’s simply not possible.

I like to think of keeping a résumé current as a professional responsibility. Tracking the skills you’ve used over the year, the files you’ve managed and other details of your practice are important pieces of the associate review process. Even if your firm doesn’t have an evaluation process, you’ll want to track your own progress and see what skills you’ve gained (and which ones you still need to acquire).  It’s much easier to track this information as it happens, as opposed to scrambling at the last minute.

The truth is, maintaining your résumé doesn’t have to take much effort. I encourage clients to develop a system of adding information to their résumé in draft form. This can be a monthly, tri-monthly or even quarterly activity. The point is, diarize these dates with enough time so you can actually sit down and reflect on your recent accomplishments.  Once you get in the habit of doing this, you’ll start to look forward to getting a boast of encouragement.

If you’re looking for a fun way to track your accomplishments, consider buying The Associate’s Guide to Creating a Portfolio of Accomplishments. This guide has helped many associates navigate career transitions, promotions and salary negotiations.

2. Know Your Brand

In his famous article, “The Brand Called You”, Tom Peters emphasized the importance of the individual developing a personal brand.  “A personal brand is your promise to the marketplace and the world (“What a “Personal Brand” is NOT”). It describes how you solve problems and how you interact with clients and co-workers. Basically, it’s why you do the things you do in the way you do them.

Prospective employers need to know what your brand is. That’s why they ask behavioural questions.  They’re trying to understand how you’ll respond in less-than-ideal circumstances.  If you don’t have a clue what your brand is, then how do you expect an employer to figure it out?

Helping my clients to establish their brand is the best part of my work.  A long-standing client (let’s call her Fatima) was approached by a US law firm earlier this year. Fatima wasn’t looking to make a move, but she had always planned on moving to the US.  Fatima knew her brand: how she likes to work, the team dynamics that allow her to perform at her best, and the client work she likes to attract. This knowledge equipped her to interview the firm as much as they interviewed her. By knowing her brand, Fatima was able to determine whether a move would ultimately be in her best interests.

3. Conduct Informational Interviews

For those who are testing the market, conducting informational interviews is the best way to see what’s out there.  I also wholeheartedly agree with the bad rap that informational interviews get when they’re done incorrectly.

There is, however, a better way. I teach my clients a step-by-step system that is founded on empathy, respect and reciprocity.  I reference a lot of what Steve Dalton teaches in his book, The 2-Hour Job Search (with his permission), because we share similar styles and values when it comes to networking.

I’ve been working with one associate recently (let’s call him Rodrigo), who was downcast when we first connected earlier this year.  Rodrigo had been looking for a new position and had been applying to postings and reaching out to people with no success. We started by making sure his résumé was in the best possible shape, then I helped Rodrigo deploy Operation Outreach.  He followed my step-by-step system despite reservations about not submitting his materials on the first email, or leading with his job search.  Now Rodrigo has two interviews!!

It makes me so happy when I see the market tipping in favour of the job seeker. It’s also a reminder to associates that they need to get their affairs in order if they plan on making a move or should they unexpectedly be poached. I’m happy to help out in any way I can, so feel free to reach out to me!

#LawIndustry #LegalIndustry #JobMarket #Lawyers #Associates #LegalAssociates #LawAssociates #LawPractitioner


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