Is the grass greener? 5 reasons it is and a word of warning!

Written by Shaaron Dalton – Consultant, empire legal


If you are reading this blog post, you are already considering making a move. In my experience recruiting Lawyers for the best part of 20 years, a move is always a good idea once you have identified reasons to leave and what you are seeking to achieve by moving. The following 5 reasons explain why you won’t regret making a well-considered move. grass_is_greener

1. Your needs are no longer being met in your current firm.

Push factors are always present when you are considering a move. Common push factors include:

– change in leadership,

– others you admired have left recently

– change in workflow

– change in the type of work you are receiving

– insufficient challenge

– a top heavy environment or too much competition for promotion

– your learning curve has stalled

– your earnings have stalled

2. You choose your new job

As a graduate you may not have had much choice in where you worked. Many Lawyers we meet took one of the first positions they were offered as a graduate.

Moving laterally as an experienced Lawyer enables you to make a more informed choice about your future career. Issues we often see addressed include questions of work/life balance, type of work, salary and potential for advancement.

A good recruitment consultant is able to provide detailed information on the opportunities enabling you to choose the right opportunity to achieve your particular career goals.

3. Salary

Moving firms is one of the few times when you will achieve an increase in salary above annual review level.

As recruiters we often achieve uplifts of 10% to 30% on moving for well trained and experienced Lawyers with 2-8 years of experience. It is rare to see more than 3- 6% increase in salary reviews in this market.

4. Adaptability is a critical skill in an environment of change

The legal profession is undergoing a period of constant change. Moving firms enables you to learn new skills and adapt to new working environments, clients and partners, gaining skills for your career long term and increasing your commercial knowledge base. In the interview process you should also ask what the firm is doing to address the rapidly changing legal landscape.

5. Successful careers are no longer linear

The days of staying with a firm for life are over. Lawyers today are prioritising experiences and opportunities for engaging and fulfilling work over the traditional partnership track. Each job is considered an opportunity to expand skills and leverage on existing experience to level up remuneration and create a springboard for the next level. The traditional partner track has given way to a new career path less linear, slightly messier which can be very rewarding.

A word of caution …

Too many short term moves can pose a problem for job security in the longer term. Take the time, ask a good recruiter for advice and plan each move with research and caution so you will reap the rewards!

Leaving Your Job? How to do it gracefully

Resigning is very stressful.  Regardless of the circumstances – if you dislike your current job, or your supervisor, or colleagues – most people become anxious about giving the news.   There are two factors at play – the fact that you are in effect rejecting someone and the fear of how that might make them feel, and the knowledge that you will, unless your employer asks you to leave early, have to work out a notice period in a job you don’t want to be in anymore.Leaving-your-job

It is often the case that once someone starts looking for another job they have mentally ‘checked out’ of their current job,  so the time between making that decision, looking for roles,  accepting another role, resigning and working out your notice can often be long.

  • The most important thing is to remember that you are still employed, and being paid, by your current employer.  Maintain your composure and continue to work in the best interests of the firm – don’t forget you will probably be wanting a reference and the best way to ensure a good one is to be responsible.  Even if you have done a great job in the past, if you drop the ball in your notice period that will be lasting impression for your employer.
  • Resign in person.  Write a resignation letter, but give it to your employer in person.  Yes, it’s hard and uncomfortable – however emailing a resignation, unless your employer is away and you can’t wait, is just rude.
  • Your resignation letter should be short – there is no reason to go into detail about the reasons.  Once something is in writing it is hard to take it back.  A wise person once said ‘Don’t do something permanently stupid just because you are temporarily upset’.
  • Give the appropriate amount of notice – even if it’s three months!  If you want to shorten the notice period say so, but the notice period is a legal requirement of your contract. Taking leave as part of your notice is not acceptable without your employer’s express consent.
  • Depending on the circumstances of your role, and if it is possible with your new role, offer to be available to assist with telephone queries for the team or your replacement. It is a small gesture that will provide much goodwill.
  • Try not to talk incessantly about your new job and how fantastic it is going to be, or how much more money you are earning.  That will just tick everyone off.
  • Finally, make sure you don’t leave a mess behind – clean out your desk and remove all your personal belongings

Now – approach your new role with nothing but a positive attitude.

Dealing with disappointment

When you are looking for a new job it is inevitable that you will face disappointment along the way.  Even in your working life disappointments will challenge you – perhaps you didn’t get the pay rise or the promotion you were hoping for.

Facing and dealing with disappointments, both big and small, determine how quickly you recover from them.  And you can make a choice about how you respond to disappointments.

Many people choose to complain about their problems. While it is certainly important to acknowledge your disappointment and not just ignore it you can choose to respond positively.  The answer lies in learning constructive ways to acknowledge disappointments.

Recognise that your old coping strategies are perhaps not working and create a new one.

  • Choose to define what is happening to you as a temporary thing, not a permanent failure.
  • Practice acceptance for things you can’t control – sometimes what has happened has nothing to do with what you have done or have not done, and you have no control over it – it is probably not personal.
  • Don’t disparage other people to make yourself feel better – you can  honestly express the emotions that you are experiencing. This is about how you feel about the situation, not about other people.
  • What are the positives? – Find opportunity in adversity- there will always be one.
  • Put things into perspective – even the tiniest of disappointments can seem huge at the time.  Once you have felt or expressed the disappointment take a moment to step back and look at the larger picture – how much is this going to have an effect on you in the future?  Will it matter in 10 minutes?  In 10 weeks?  In 10 months? In 10 years?
  • What can you learn – did you have unrealistic expectations?  Is there something you can do differently or better next time?

Most importantly, reflect on what happened and set goals for the future so that you can capitalise on opportunities as they present themselves.

Perspectives of a new employee

“To feel valued, to know, even if only once in a while, that you can do a job well is an absolutely marvelous feeling.” – Barbara Walters

Recently we had a new candidate come to us  ready to start looking for a new job.  She was unhappy with her current employer, we found her a new job quickly and months later she is very happy with her new employer.  It has nothing to do with the work she was, and is now, doing.  Let’s call her Sarah.

For Sarah, the reasons are simple:

Before she started – Employer 1 had not organised to finalise her employment  documents and she was not paid for over a month after she started.  Employer 2 had all documents sent to her, with clear instructions on completion, with plenty of time for her to return them before she started.

On her first day – Employer 1 had made no arrangements for Sarah to start. When she arrived, the receptionist did not know a new employee was starting that day.  She was taken to her desk which was not clean, to find that her new boss was not in that day, and no one knew what to do with her.  She sat at her desk alone that first day.  Employer 2 is a small organisation but had a short orientation planned including a buddy to show her around and answer any questions she had about the organisation and systems.  She was also given a small stationery pack with the basics she would need – writing pad, pens, post it notes, stapler etc.

For the first few months – Sarah enjoyed her work with Employer 1 but felt lonely.  Her boss barely spoke to her other than to give her work to do.  She never knew if she was doing a good job or not.  Her probation period came and went with no acknowledgment.  She didn’t receive any feedback.  The other people were nice enough – she just never felt like she belonged.  Her current employer arranged a fortnightly meeting just 5-10 minutes long, every two weeks to check up on how she was going and give her feedback, which was usually positive and always constructive.  She was also asked for feedback by her boss.  Her probation was marked with a letter given to her by her boss with a cake for morning tea to share with others in the office.

For all the similarities in work, salary, and location, these experiences were like chalk and cheese.

And the reason is that she was made to feel valued by her new employer.  The things that made her feel valued cost no more than a bit of time and a cake.  Who couldn’t afford that, for the sake of an engaged and loyal employee?