Maximizing Your Potential: A Comprehensive Guide to Your Career Options

Maximizing Your Potential: A Comprehensive Guide to Your Career Options

21 January, 2013

ZSA is Canada’s leading and only national legal recruitment firm. With offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, and with consultants who specialize in all levels of lawyer and legal support staff opportunities, we are uniquely well-positioned to assist with career management advice!
So, what is career management, and how do we get started? Career management relates to the planning of your professional path in order to achieve personal goals and attain both financial security and work/life balance. Some questions you might ask yourself are: when is a good time to make a career change? How competitive is the job market? What do I do if I’ve gone as far as I can go at my current place of employment? These are all excellent questions that will help you take your first steps towards maximizing your potential and managing your career. The first step, whether you’re a junior or a seasoned paralegal, is to consider your area of law and the current job market trends. You might want to seek professional advice on this, in order to determine which areas of the job market are quiet and in which areas opportunities are plentiful. You will need to consider the state of the economy, as well as what is happening on the hiring front in your local area. Supply and demand apply both to economics and to the science of career management!
Another important issue to consider when mapping your career is the question of who employs you. Most legal professionals are employed in law firms while many enjoy working outside of private practice. For example, you might want to pursue a career working for a corporation with an in-house legal department, working for government or a unionized environment, or working on a contract or freelance basis. Many people start their careers in private practice, and move on to new opportunities after spending a few years developing their skills.  Remember that maximizing your potential is all about growth. After you’ve gained a few years of experience in your field, your responsibilities will increase naturally as you become more comfortable and proficient. However, you might outgrow your current role and your career development might plateau. At this time, increased challenges might become important to you and that is an excellent time to put your feelers out in the market. For example, you might want to branch out into a Case Manager or Corporate Secretary role, or you may want to move into office management! The direction you take will be purely individual, but taking on a new title role or a new challenge can help you achieve your inner potential.
Last but not least, it’s important to consider the big picture. If you are interested in taking your career to the next level but can’t find what you’re looking for locally, think outside the box! Have you considered a career in another city? Perhaps overseas? Many international jurisdictions are attracted to Canadian legal talent so you might want to open your search to include favourite cities around the globe. Alternatively, would you be interested in relocating if your dream job came up in Montreal or Toronto?
There are a plethora of things to consider when creating your career plan or just contemplating your next move. At first the issue can seem daunting but with some deliberate planning the task becomes much more manageable, and the reward (reaching your peak potential) becomes all the more gratifying!
Elizabeth Borrill is a Consultant with the Support Services Division of ZSA Legal Recruitment. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia and joined ZSA in 2008.  JoAnne Todgham is also a Consultant with the Support Services Division of ZSA. She joined ZSA in 2009, with prior experience in legal recruitment working with Maxim Group.

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