Liz Ryan’s 6 Reasons To Run From a Job Opportunity and The Legal Marketplace

31 Jul 2013

The excellent Liz Ryan of Human Workplace published her latest article at the end of last week, discussing six noticeable signs that a job might not be for you. They’re all extremely valid and, as usual, Liz’s writing makes for an engaging read.

Necessarily though, as Human Workplace work with applicants in all sorts of industries, the points are of quite a general nature, with perhaps little application for our candidates being placed at the very top of legal firms.

We took a look at her recommendations and applied them to legal recruitment to help you consider at what point you should be running away from a position you really want.

1 – Which individual in the company is recruiting you? Do they have authority and a plan?

 A common problem for law firms with lots of partners – getting a clear idea of where you fit in and where the firm is heading, is key. Look for the Managing Partner to take a strong lead in your recruitment or, in the case of large firms, that there is an Equity Partner responsible for your hiring and your eventual location within the business.

As Liz points out, a discrepancy between the people you are talking with and the job they are asking you to do is a sign that the firm is not clear on its strategy and therefore not clear on where you fit in. If your recruitment process involves several people, then ask them all where they see you working and what they see you doing. Are the answers the same?

2 – Every company has problems but can a potential new employer recognise their own?

Every legal firm will be aware that the industry is currently undergoing huge and significant change. Perhaps not all will see this as a problem, but they should at least recognise that it may change ‘things’; particularly the choice available in the market and, as a potential knock-on effect, client loyalty.

Ask firms if they intend to change their plans because of the sector changes. All of them should at least be able to respond with why they feel comfortable with their current strategy.

Asking them about how you fit into this strategy is also a must. Why are they hiring you now? What problem does your appointment solve? A lot of these questions are about ensuring you have a clear idea of what type of company you are joining and the situation that company currently finds itself in.

3 – A thorough recruitment process should be a two-way street.

Legal recruitment processes should be rigorous but they should also allow you the option to decide if the position is right for you. Make sure that you are being given adequate information to allow you to decide if this vacancy is the right one and talk to the firm if there is more you need to know.

It is one thing for a firm to be rigorous but it is another to put you through a process that fails to take account of the fact that you are a well-qualified professional, suitable for a senior level legal position. If the process is all one-way, or if you feel that you are not getting enough information out of the people you are meeting with, then don’t be afraid to back out and spend your time on other opportunities.

4 – Don’t be left waiting. Agree concrete timescales upfront.

Communication is key but it also works both ways. Agree a timescale upfront with the firm that makes sense for you both. Liz mentions ninety six hours, a week, or much shorter timescales. In truth it may depend on the position, the firm and the applicant, so make sure you question when they expect to let you know.

If you haven’t heard from them by then, talk with whoever is handling your recruitment process. You are expected to keep up with deadlines and a professional firm should do the same. We are in touch with candidates and contacts all of the time and should be able to speed up a slow or stalled recruitment process.

5 – A lack of transparency should start setting off your alarm bells.

There will be things the firm may not want to discuss with you until you have joined, for potentially valid reasons but there must be a balance with this as well.

If they are holding off on every bit of information you request then this may be a sign that you’re not first in the running for a position, or that the culture is one in which the dissemination of meaningful information is hard to come by.

6 – Know who you’ll be working with and what they’re like.

This is probably a point more relevant in smaller firms (you’re not going to be taken to meet all forty partners at a large firm) but as a minimum, you should expect to be able to meet those you’ll be working with directly, if this is something you wish to do.

It’s important to feel comfortable in your new situation so seeing the office and meeting the people you’ll be working with is something to bear in mind when you’re on site completing interviews.

Liz’s Vortex

Liz talks about the ‘vortex’ that can surround recruitment, especially when the situations described above are appearing in multiple job opportunities, all vying for your attention.

It’s at times like this that having someone to help guide you through your search for a new position can be invaluable.

We see this as one of the most important parts of our job. Not only are we here to open up the right opportunities for you, but also to act as a voice of reason when you find yourself in the recruitment process – or ‘in the vortex’, as Liz describes it!

Having this guiding voice can really make a difference to both your success in an opportunity and your ability to manage multiple opportunities at different stages, always moving towards the opportunity that suits you best.

Read more about how we work with individual candidates here.