How to Prepare to Take Leave

Written by Caitlin Chapman – Recruitment Consultant (Legal Support) Sydney NSW

Taking leave from work is always exciting and we all deserve a break from work and the opportunity to completely tune out. However, this is often harder in practice and depending on your chosen profession, can require careful planning and preparation. Below I have listed some tips on how to ensure your time off work is as seamless as possible and your return to work, not so chaotic!

  1. Prepare yourself! Try to ensure you have all urgent/pressing work finished up prior to taking your leave, not only for your own sake, but also for that of your colleagues and clients/customers. Try to plan ahead and complete any work you can in advance, the more prepared you are in the weeks leading up to your leave, the more seamless your break from work will be. Don’t forget to also set up an Automatic Reply on your outbox prior to going away.
  2. Prepare your colleagues! When preparing to take leave, it is also essential to prepare your colleagues. Remind your colleagues in the weeks leading up to your leave when you will be going and ensure to send them calendar invites so they are aware of the exact dates. You should also select a colleague that you work most closely with to specifically help cover you. For this colleague, you should provide detailed instructions on everything that needs to be done to cover your desk and anything you require them to do. Your colleagues will only be all too happy to help you out while you are away from your desk and will know that in return, you will do the same. I would suggest having a comprehensive written brief and instructions left for your colleagues as well as verbally explaining the list and ensuring your colleague or colleagues have a full understanding.
  3. Prepare your manager! Your manager should be aware of your time off work well in advance as you would have had to request Annual Leave. However, in the weeks leading up to your leave, it would also be useful to have another in-depth discussion with your manager to ensure they are aware of any significant deadlines or duties that need to be performed/met in your absence. This can ensure that if for whatever reason your colleagues run into problems, your manager is across the situation and can step in if needed.
  4. Prepare your clients/external stakeholders! If you work with customers, clients or any other external stakeholders, it is important that you inform them of your leave in advance. It may also be necessary (depending on your area of work and length of leave) to introduce the colleague who will covering for you. This can ensure a smooth transition and that customers and clients are put at ease whilst you are away.

Having followed my above tips on preparing for your leave, you should be able to leave your desk stress free and enjoy your holiday! Bon Voyage!

The Cover Letter – Your Greatest Selling Tool

Written by Jo Williams: Corporate Support Consultant – empire group


In this highly competitive candidate market a well-written cover letter can be your greatest tool in getting noticed. Applying for jobs can sometimes seem like an arduous and administrative heavy process, but spending the extra time on a cover letter shows potential employers and recruiters that you value the opportunity and are serious about their job.

A cover letter should be concise with no more than 2-3 paragraphs. Keep in mind this is your opportunity to let the employer know why they should hire you. It should be professional yet conversational and to the point.

It is critical to personalise your cover letter to the role rather than sending out a generic cover letter. If possible, you should address it personally to the recruiter or hiring manager.

Address any criteria mentioned in the job ad and discuss the qualifications and experience that make you suitable for the role. Without being over-the-top or boastful, explain why you want the role so much. Explain what interests you about their industry and their organisation in particular.

Keep it professional! Do not mention any personal challenges or family commitments that have taken you away from your career. This can open you up to discrimination and unless they will affect your ability to carry out your role, they are not relevant.

Finish with a closing paragraph expressing your desire to meet them for an interview. Ensure this sounds genuine and polite, never pushy. It’s a nice idea to include your phone number.

Last but not least – check all spelling and grammar! Print it out, read and re-read it and get a second opinion if necessary. Poor written communication skills can be a major red flag for employers. Good luck!

What is the best way to prepare for an interview?

Written by Libby Mizrahi– Recruitment Consultant (Legal Professional) Melbourne VIC

Let’s face it, job interviews can be daunting. Usually however, we find that the anxiety we create in our minds around an upcoming interview, is a lot worse than the interview itself.   In fact, amongst most of the lawyers that I work with, those that are most apprehensive pre- interview, are equally as surprised post interview, with how well the interview proceeded. Conversely, some of the most confident lawyers are actually underprepared for interview and perform badly.

Interviews, like a lot of other things in life, are as scary as we make them. The more prepared you are going in, the better the result. For most of us, we need to look at the interview process in a new way. We need to reframe the way we perceive the interview as a chance to demonstrate or sell our unique and high level skills and experience. That’s where it can get exciting.  It’s a chance to paint of a picture of the type of person we are, discus what motivates and drives us, what we enjoy in our work, what we are passionate about and where we want to take our careers. Once we reconsider the process within this paradigm, most of that tension and anxiety dissipates and we can concentrate on the positive aspects of the process.

The number one, hands down best advice I can give as a recruiter is to BE PREPARED for the interview.  Hell, be over prepared, it will be a lot of easier pick and choose what you want to share in interview,  than to have to struggle and stammer through what may feel like an interrogation.

This includes:

  • Research the firm, partners and team

I encourage the lawyers I work with to use me as a resource. My job is to provide as much relevant info as I can on my client. This info has been gained over some 15 years and is invaluable. Lawyers should do their own research as well, scour the internet / LinkedIn and know your audience well ahead of time. You will need to know exactly why you want to work with this firm/ team.

  • Know your CV inside out and be able to sell your skills, abilities and experiences.

You need to know very convincingly how you could contribute to the firm. You need to be armed with examples of matters you have worked on and highlight of your career to date.

  • Be armed and ready to ask relevant questions.

It’s just as important to remember that the interview is also an opportunity for you to find out about the firm.

  • Don’t stress if it doesn’t work out.

If things don’t go to plan, learn from the experience and move on. Focus on doing better next time round.

Risky business: taking calculated career moves

Written by Sally Hill – Recruitment Consultant (Medical & Corporate Support), Brisbane QLD

The career path of the contemporary worker can be quite varied as business needs change, jobs evolve and industries are hit with tough economic conditions.  If you find yourself on your evening commute home from another day on the job wondering what it’s all for, whether you’re in the right job, that you’re stuck in the wrong job, or you should have finished that degree – you’re not alone.

A great feature of the modern workplace is that most direct managers will be extremely supportive of any desire for change, and will appreciate the honesty from a team member admitting that they’re not engaged with their current position.  The key is having the self-awareness to initiate change before your performance starts to slip from loss of motivation or purpose.

Your organisation may offer the flexibility or the path to be able to change departments, expertise or start all over again – you will never know unless you open the conversation.  Don’t lead yourself into a rut, follow your instincts and make something happen if you have doubts about your existing role.

Reflect upon your situation, your values and what you want to be spending over 40 hours a week doing.  If you’re leaning towards changing industries or career altogether, you’re probably going to have to take a step or two back both in title and salary, inevitably shake up your comfort zone and take a risk – all daunting concepts, but all so rewarding if you make the right move.

Research the job market; what entry-level vacancies are advertised, do you have any transferable skills or experience?  Do you have a strong and interesting working background that could give you an edge over someone who has been doing the same roles for ten years?

Contact a recruiter working within your ideal or existing industry, they likely see candidates from each and may be able to provide you with the best angle to get into your desired role.  Ask yourself these questions, talk to the right people and get to where you want to be.

Do you hire for cultural fit over skills and experience?

Written by Marianna Tuccia – Recruitment Consultant (Legal Professional), Sydney NSW

With this war on talent that seems to be never-ending, the question becomes should you hire for cultural fit over skills & knowledge? Ideally, you want to get both exactly right. But more often than not you will interview a candidate that is the perfect cultural fit but doesn’t have quite the amount of experience that you were looking for.

Cultural fit is just as important as skills and knowledge, if not more important. Education, experience and skills comprise only a part of what makes a candidate successful. Values, style and behaviour are equally important in making a candidate successful within an organization.

If there is time and resources to train and upskill a candidate, in the long term it is probably better to hire on cultural fit above skills and knowledge. Hiring the wrong candidate on cultural fit can also impact adversely existing employees and their engagement levels.

The question then becomes, how do you ensure candidates are a good cultural fit? The answer is as easy as being thorough and strategic in the recruitment and selection process. It goes without saying that there should be multiple interviews and the entire team should be involved in the interview process. You need time to grasp who the candidate really is. But before embarking on the interview process, you really need to understand what your culture means and ask interview questions that relate to this. Behavioral based questions will also assist you in giving you an insight into a candidate’s cultural fit.

Questions you might like to ask include:

  • From the list of our company’s values which one resonated with you most? Which one resonated with you least? Why?
  • How do you see yourself contributing to the company’s values?
  • Describe to me, from previous positions you have held, the values of a company where you have thrived in?
  • Leaving aside the role and the nature of the role, why do you want to work for our company?

Personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (a questionnaire which indicates psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions) can also be helpful in assessing a candidate’s cultural fit.

Candidates will be well prepared for interviews and some candidates even rehearse their answers. Try not to stick to the “usual” interview questions. Discuss unexpected topics e.g. news headlines, or ask questions like “how honest are you?”, “what is the funniest thing that happened to you recently?”, “who is your favorite movie character?” This will give you a better grip of the candidate’s personality and cultural fit. Additionally, allow the candidate to lead for most of the interview. If they have trouble leading in the interview and they have difficulty with communication, the candidate may not be a good cultural fit.

Hiring for cultural fit over skills and knowledge can be a great idea as you never know how much a candidate will develop and grow into the role. In 12 months’ time, you might be surprised as to where the candidate’s skill levels and knowledge base have developed.

Effective Workplace Communication

Written by Tarnya Mangano – Recruitment Consultant (Legal Support) Brisbane, QLD

Simple, but sometimes we all forget the art of effective communication, especially in our workplaces.  Of course, we all think we have great communication skills, and every job requires them – but what does it really mean?  And what does it mean to have these skills when it comes to your job?

Communication is about more than just exchanging information.  It’s about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information.  Effective communication is also a two-way street.  It’s not only how you convey a message so that it is received and understood by someone in exactly the way you intended, it’s also how you listen to gain the full meaning of what’s being said, to make the other person feel heard and understood.  Communication, whether verbal, written or visual can be expressed in positive (assertive) or negative (aggressive, passive) ways.  People need to take feedback from how others interpret or perceive how they are communicating.  Sometimes we can be perceived as aggressive even though it is not intended.  It is all about how the other person has “heard” your communication.

Communication is the key to all successful projects and a lack of adequate communication can prove to be the downfall of many, which would otherwise be successful.  Effective communication can certainly help you develop your connections with others and improve teamwork, decision making, and problem solving.  It enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust.  Effective communication in the workplace can also increase work productivity and output which leads to the success of the business.

Good communication skills are some of the simplest, most essential and most useful tools for success you can possess.  In fact, they are probably the number one ability sought by employers. 

Some key skills we all need to be reminded of to improve our communication;

  • Become an engaged listener,
  • Pay attention to nonverbal signals,
  • Keep stress in check,
  • Empathise and encourage,
  • Assert yourself.

Regardless of what field you’re in and despite the apparent hollowness of the term, honing your ‘communication skills’ will pay you back many times over.  If you get it right, you’re guaranteed to have a much smoother path through life and your career.

Why You Need a Recruiter to Get it Right

Why you need a recruiter to get it right by Emma Weeber LLB.

Often we are asked about the benefit of using a recruitment agency. There are loads of recruitment agencies in Australia, which in itself can be confusing. It can be a bit like shopping in that you need to try a few before you find the one (or two) that really ‘get’ you.

With so many jobs being advertised and the horrible feeling of not being considered for the roles you apply directly for; a well-connected agent can be exactly what you need. So, how can your recruiter help you?

  • It’s what we do! We have the active positions across practice areas and industry knowledge about what’s happening in the market and potential opportunities.
  • We have long established market contacts throughout Australia and also further abroad!
  • We can support you with finding a position that is going to be the best fit for you, both career wise and personally.
  • We can help you with tailoring your resume so it has the impact you need it to.
  • We also assist with interview preparation to help you impress in an interview.
  • If you have questions that you don’t feel comfortable to ask directly we can help!
  • We can describe the culture of a firm to you to ensure that you make a fully informed decision.
  • We support you right through the initial days, weeks and months of your new role, you will always have a sounding board with us!

When people put their trust in us to help them with such an important decision in their career, it’s not something that we take lightly. Using an agent shouldn’t feel like an annoying middle person, it should instead feel like a new support network and be an excellent way of understanding the market you are tackling and increasing your chances of success.


Emma Weeber LLB.


Getting Recruitment Wrong? The Critical First Step You Need to Know

Getting Recruitment Wrong? The Critical First Step You Need to Know by Kara Plummer


Although fee-earners are sometimes reluctant to spare the time to do it, the smart ones will know that taking the time to provide HR with proper details of what they’re actually looking for will certainly increase the chances of recruiting and more importantly recruiting someone appropriate for the position. 


Obviously the job specification can change and evolve as the recruiting process progresses, but fee-earners taking the time up front to explain what they’re looking for will help enormously and prevent “stabbing in the dark” or you having to use your powers of ESP to work out what they want.  In addition, giving a detailed spec to recruiters will save you time as it will prevent you having to answer the same questions a thousand times over.  I’m sure you’ve all fielded multiple calls from recruiters trying to explain what the role is.


What do candidates really want to know before they consent?


Obviously this differs according to the level of the recruit, however for a lot of lawyers, they simply won’t consent unless they are given a detailed job specification.  When you’re talking about lawyers who are naturally cautious and risk adverse, and who are concerned about confidentiality, unless they are given a large amount of information about the role, it can be incredibly difficult to obtain consent to the particular role.


A practice area, level and name of partner won’t — in most circumstances— be enough for the candidate to consent.


Here’s an idea of what information is required to obtain consent from lawyers to go forward for a position:


  1. What team is it to work in?
  2. Who the role is to work for (whether it’s one partner in particular or a number of partners).
  3. The structure of the current team (this is obviously more important for more senior lawyers, but most would want an idea of who is in the team already.
  4. Why the team is looking to recruit?  Is it a replacement or expansion position?
  5. What salary you’re looking to pay for the role.
  6. Is there any particular experience the person needs?
  7. What experience is desirable for the role?
  8. Does the recruit need a specific academic background?
  9. What sort of personality would fit well in the team?
  10. When does the recruit need to ideally start?
  11. What sort of hours will lawyers be expected to work in the team?


If you have this information, things should be a lot easier.  It will also save you a lot of time if you have the information up front and not have to go backwards and forwards to the partner and candidates/recruiters with the information.


Kara Plummer

Senior Legal Professional Consultant

empire legal

Connect with Kara at

LinkedIn Does Not Spell the Death Knell for Recruiters

A colleague asked me recently ‘So what is your exit strategy now that LinkedIn is taking over the recruitment business?’. I was a bit surprised by the question, for while I have used LinkedIn myself in searching for potential candidates for particular roles, I do not believe that LinkedIn will replace the benefits of specialist recruiters.   There is absolutely no doubt that LinkedIn has changed the way professionals connect and plays a role in attracting talent, and makes it easier to approach potential recruits. But there will always be a place for recruiters.LinkedIn vs Recruiter

Here’s why:

We understand your business and what you are looking for

As specialist recruiters, we make a point of getting to know your business and what you are looking for now, and also into the future. We work hard at developing relationships to make sure we know the type of candidate you are looking for. As we have a number of candidates on our books, either actively looking for new employment, or passively looking, in the sense that they are not wanting to change employers unless the right role comes along, we already have a large pool of candidates before we start advertising for a role. If an employer was to use LinkedIn to search for candidates they would potentially be sifting through hundreds of potential candidates who match the search criteria.

In some cases, if you tell us you are recruiting for a particular role, or looking for a particular person, we already know the exact type of person you are looking for, having done all the hard work beforehand.

We screen potential candidates

If we advertise, we screen potential candidates before they even come to you. We will not put forward a candidate unless we are sure they are suitable for the role. LinkedIn works on a particular set of search algorithms, and will present a group of people who match the criteria you put into the search. We know the personalities both of our clients and our candidates so we know who is best suited for the role.

Being on LinkedIn does not mean you are a jobseeker

A search of people on LinkedIn who match your search criteria, does not create a pool of candidates. Just because someone is on LinkedIn, this does not mean they are looking for a new role. This is potentially a huge time waster for employers making contact with people who do not wish to be contacted. And this can be annoying for those people who may be receiving multiple calls if their practice area is in high demand. Recruiters are experienced in identifying those who will be a good fit, and more importantly who will not be a good fit for the role.

While we ourselves use LinkedIn to search for and also eliminate potential candidates, it is only one avenue we use in our approach to recruitment. Professional, experienced recruiters provide the expertise, industry knowledge and personal touch that LinkedIn cannot provide on its’ own.

We are happy to discuss our approach – please call us to discuss at any time.