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'Don't Panic' is a phrase on the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. For those not as familiar with it, the novel explains that this was partly because the device "looked insanely complicated" to operate. People now facing redundancy situations may share this feeling of being overwhelmed and unsure where to begin, but my key advice is not to panic, there are positive steps that you can take to manage the situation.
You may not think it but recruiters may be a good reference point, they have an inside knowledge on the recruitment processes within the legal sector, and can help.
In terms of my personal experience, I’ve worked through a couple of recessions during my career. I in fact “fell” into recruitment (as most of us have) because of the 2008 crash when myself and fellow professionals in my previous industry (Organisational Development) were made redundant, so I’ve had personal experience of the stress of being unemployed and trying to find a role in the most challenging of circumstances. I hope the following advice goes some way to try and help those who now find themselves in this situation.
Take Stock and Figure Out What Works for You
Ironically, facing a redundancy situation can, and often is in most cases, one of the first opportunities where you’re able to actually hit pause and reflect upon what the positive and negatives of your current career trajectory are. Have you enjoyed your current practice area? Firm? Team? Have your working arrangements actually “worked” for you? Are you in an area of law that has been hit hard by the pandemic/ recession, if so, what skills are transferrable? Would you consider a re-train?
Now is a great time to define what you would like your next role to look like. It is easy to feel that you need to take the first thing that comes along. We all have mortgages, rent, bills to pay and in a lot of cases children to support, but don’t go from the frying pan into the fire. Even if it’s just an hour spent jotting down any of the points above , it will be worth it in the long run rather than jumping to a role and firm that might not be compatible with what you want to achieve professionally.
Sadly, it is at times like these that cowboy recruiters thrive. I’m already hearing horror stories from candidates of businesses claiming they’re working with prestigious firms on their roles, taking a candidates CV and telling them they’ve been sent to that role, when actually these firms are not working with that particular agency and candidates have been missing out on even being considered for the opportunity. In some cases, there isn’t even a role to speak of at these firms! Please speak to colleagues and friends about which recruiters have worked well for them in the past, which business have a good reputation, check out recommendations on LinkedIn. A good recruiter will tell you if their client is sourcing directly on a role rather than coming to their preferred supplier list, they will want you to get that job regardless!
Dust Off That CV And Set Yourself Apart from The Crowd
I know, I know… for most of us this is an arduous task but in many cases firms are still working with a CV document rather than a LinkedIn profile. It could be quite some time since you’ve worked on your CV. With some candidates I work with, the last time they updated their CV was when they were seeking an NQ role, but it’s worth making sure that your CV is as up to date and detailed as possible and covers everything you’ve done and that’s also includes activities beyond day to day fee earning. For example, anything that’s considered “added value” such as client relationship building, client account management, training and managing others, networking will all go to make you stand out against competitors for that dream role.
Stay positive… I know it can be hard!
It sounds trite however it is actually key. Securing a new role following redundancy can take some time and many interview processes. It can become jading and the effects can take their toll on your confidence and self-esteem. Sometimes the frustration with the process as a whole can show through in interviews. I have had this feedback from clients. It’s important to be open minded, objective, explore things to see what they might do for you, and be prepared to change. Continuing in the same role in the same field is probably most likely but it is not inevitable, and these nudge moments have been known to set careers in a whole new exciting direction. Good things come out of it! It’s important not to fear judgement – redundancy decisions are affecting thousands and that is understood..
If redundancy is affecting your mental health please do reach out to friends, family and/or professionals such as LawCare who provide support and information to anyone in the legal community who is experiencing mental health and wellbeing problems.
Gemma Crossley-Wilkinson, Principal Consultant, Brooke Thornham
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