We’ve heard it many times over: the legal job market is changing and lawyers are facing ever more competition for coveted spots. Despite these new challenges, legal professionals can take active steps to ensure they continue to thrive – even in the current legal job climate. We’ve turned to our knowledgeable consultants for their advice, and they’ve provided 3 key strategies on how you can stay competitive and welcome the changes with open arms!
1. Demonstrate your business acumen.
Whether you are a lawyer, paralegal, or a law clerk, you are working for a company or organization whose business must succeed. Now, more than ever, demonstrating that you are business-minded will assist you in remaining a competitive candidate for future opportunities.
“A good candidate understands the economics of law,” says President and Co-Founder of ZSA, Warren Bongard. “In a law firm, understanding how associates and partners are paid is critical to understanding how to build a book. In-house, a lawyer needs to understand the cost-benefit analysis that led to their position in the first place, including considerations such as risk management, cost savings, value to the business, and so on.”
Mike Race, a Recruitment Consultant with ZSA, adds that there are several ways candidates can demonstrate their business savvy. “They have been part of any tender or pitch process, even if just assisting a Partner,” says Race. “They have developed relationships directly with client contacts.”
2. You are a “fit” with the prospective firm/organization.
Prospective employers will also be looking for candidates that “fit” with their firm.
Race suggests that one way to obtain more information about the employer’s “personality” and culture is to speak with a trusted recruiter. “A good recruiter with experience in the market will be able to provide insight into this,” says Race. “Otherwise, reach out to your network to see if anyone used to work there or knows someone who did. Be aware, however, that an employer’s culture can change rapidly, so this information may be outdated.”
You can also showcase your own personality early on in the recruitment process. “This comes down to having a resume that demonstrates your commitment to the community and causes that are unrelated to your career,” advises Bongard. “This helps present you as diverse, someone who is caring, empathetic, and, most importantly, well-rounded.”
3. Stay flexible and open-minded to new opportunities.
If you are having trouble finding the right opportunity in a specific geographical area, you may also benefit from considering other locations. “Open yourself up to regional pockets when you are not finding what you want locally,” says Bongard. Race agrees, and adds that keeping an open mind about geography can also allow you to access opportunities that will advance your career more quickly. “Going regional is a great way to fast-track into a more senior role or a role with greater responsibilities,” says Race.
If you are facing a gap in employment, Bongard recommends using the time to find contract work. “As well,” Bongard adds, “get more involved in volunteering activities to keep you connected and relevant.” Race also suggests using the time to further your education or join a relevant group or association.
The legal job market will continue to evolve, but that should not prevent you from achieving your professional goals. So let’s recognize these trends and add value to the change process.
These are just some of the strategies that can help you adapt and stay competitive. What other strategies have helped you? Share your experiences with other readers in our comments section!