Be the cat that gets the cream
Using an Agency
Like everything in life there are some excellent recruitment agencies out there and some awful ones and everything in between. We appreciate that for an outsider to the industry it can be difficult to tell which is which. Every agency website says they are “a leading consultancy” and “the fastest growing in the UK”. Your career is incredibly important. Speak to the agency and make sure you are happy with them. A good recruitment consultant should work with you, not just be a post-box for your CV. You need to be honest with your agency, if you are they will be able to work much better on your behalf.
If you are registering with a job board be aware that although you think you are only registering your CV on the job board site for one specific role, once you have registered your CV. It will be visible to all agencies who use the site. We hear from many candidates whose CV has been submitted to firms far and wide without their knowledge or consent in this way. Our advice would be to speak to an agency before sending in your CV and see if they are people you feel comfortable working with. Keep control of where your CV is being sent and by whom.
People should be careful who they share confidential information and data with. The recruitment industry is subject to regulation. One of the most important pieces of legislation for you to consider is The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003. In a nutshell agencies cannot say to you “let’s send your CV out and see what happens” or “I will send your CV to some clients and get back to you” or mail shot your CV. The regulations are quite clear that an agency must discuss a specific role or firm with you and get your permission to represent you before sending your CV.
At QED Legal we would never under any circumstances release any of your details, including a CV unless we had made you aware of the opportunity and gained your permission to represent you in respect of it. It is for this reason we recommend that you only register with us as your sole agency. In so doing you have a 100% guarantee that you have complete control over the recruitment process and 100% security that you get when dealing with a highly professional agency.
QED Legal takes the storage of your data on our systems very seriously. We use a state of the art ‘cloud’ based and encrypted database system. This system has been given the highest safety and security rating (military standard) by the British Government and is verified with a SAS70 certification.
Is it high time for a new job?
The Interview Process
Preparation, preparation and preparation!
There is no excuse these days in not researching and preparing for an interview. Your recruitment consultant should give you inside information on the firm, personalities of interviewers and what they are looking for. The internet is your friend. There is so much information on firm’s own websites and resource materials that you would be foolish not to properly prepare yourself as well. Firms expect it.
You will be asked questions about dilemmas you have faced in your professional and personal life and how you approached and overcame them. It can cover anything from conflict management to delegation. If you look for “competency based interview questions” on the internet there is a wealth of information there for you to practice with!
Expect to be grilled. You are, as a lawyer, expected to be up to date with the law, legal trends, legal news and wider issues affecting the profession. Make sure you are up to date with relevant case law in your chosen field and consider how pending landmark decisions or proposed government policies might impact.
You may be given a case study to read whilst sitting outside the interview room. They can cover abstract legal problems where there is no right or wrong answer – they are designed to see how you logically work through problems. Others can throw up ethical or moral dilemmas. Your recruitment consultant should have established the interview procedure for you in advance of your interview but be prepared to expect the unexpected!
Prepare several questions for you to put to the interviewer at the end of the interview in case they have not covered points you wanted to raise during the interview. Avoid asking about things the agency will be able to answer for you (like number of holidays, benefits, salary) and concentrate on intelligent issues such as: how ABS firms will affect the fortunes of the firm you are interviewing with over the next 2 years.
Be a roaring success
The Recruitment Process
Your recruitment consultant should meet with or speak to you at length about your experience, reasons you are looking to move now, why you have moved in the past and what you are looking for with your next career move.
You should be honest with your consultant even if it exposes skeletons in cupboards. An experienced legal recruiter will have come across whatever issue you are worried about numerous times before and will be able to advise you appropriately.
Your CV will be assembled and options with one or more firms discussed with you. Do not allow agencies to send out your CV unless they expressly tell you the name of the firm they are sending it to. Some rogue agencies will just want to mailshot your CV to all the firms on their database. Do not allow them to do this under any circumstances as it can have dire consequences for you further down the line. Insist that an agency only sends your CV to a firm after they have gained your express permission. The agency should then email you confirmation of which firm(s) you have agreed for them to approach.
Your CV will be submitted to agreed firm(s) and the consultant will in the days following speak with the decision makers within the firm(s) with the aim of securing you an interview. With larger firms this can sometimes take a while so patience is required!
You will hopefully be selected for interview and your consultant should provide you with full details of the location of the interview and who you are to meet. You should expect to receive further information about the format of the interview so you can prepare thoroughly.
After the interview you should expect to receive feedback on how you performed (this can sometimes take time if they are seeing several people for the role) and whether there will be a second (or subsequent stage) interview or not.
Once the interview process is complete it will become clear if you are to receive an offer of employment from the firm. The recruitment agency will handle the offer process for you and deal with any negotiations regarding salary of package on your behalf.
You will then receive an offer letter. Your consultant will be on hand to answer any questions or queries and will offer advice and guidance on how and when to hand in your notice with your current employer.
You will then serve a notice period before leaving your current employer and your consultant should be on hand throughout that time to make sure that the transition from current to new firm is as smooth and painless for you as possible.
Once you have started with your new employer your consultant will be on hand during the first few days and weeks to make sure you get off to the best possible start In your new home.
Beeste your next interview
Firstly let’s finally bury the urban myth that a CV should only be on two pages. As a lawyer, especially if you have significant experience, you will have extensive information to include under the ‘Education and Qualifications’ section and your ‘Employment History’ should be fully fleshed out to give a detailed breakdown and examples of your caseload, interesting, notable or tricky cases you have been involved with, billing or billable hours history, work you have introduced to the firm, any following you have, management experience, marketing experience, reason for leaving and current salary and package. It can be daunting putting together a CV if it has been a long time since you last did one. Provided you can provide the following information to us, even if just in an email, we would be more than happy to assemble a CV for you – it’s what we do!
- Area of law you specialise in
- Year qualified / number of years experience
- Education & Qualifications – right back to GCSE’s/ ‘O’ Levels including grades
- Details of each firm you have worked at (most recent first) including name, dates and position as well as reason for leaving
Advice for a Career in Law
Lawyers should not make mistakes, that’s a fundamental part of the job. The same applies to a lawyer’s career. You can probably explain away one or two ill advised career moves over a lifetime in law, but moving every year or two could eventually make you unemployable.
Think about why you want to move, what you hope to achieve from the move and what you can offer that makes you attractive.
Using a good recruitment agency to explain moves you have made and what you have to offer is a lot more productive than simply sending your CV directly to a firm.