Q: This is the first time I have used an agency. How does it work and should I register with a few agencies?
A: At Frasia Wright Associates we take pride in our professional integrity and confidentiality, which are the cornerstones of our approach to recruitment. As a candidate you will be guided through each step of the process objectively and professionally – you will benefit from our experience and focus as the only specialist recruitment consultancy in Scotland dedicated to the placement of lawyers, from the depth of our continuously evolving market knowledge, and from the fact that we work closely with a range of firms, organisations and public sector bodies throughout Scotland and England. It is important to state also, that as a candidate you will not be required to pay for our services and any assistance we provide you with will be provided free of charge.
When considering how many agencies you should register with, it is crucial that you ensure that you are in control of where your CV is being sent and that you manage the process. The last thing you want is to be branded a time-waster because your CV is being sent by any number of agencies to the same firms. Our recommendation is that you use no more than two agencies at any given time, and that you keep a careful record of who is doing what and when on your behalf.
Q: When I tendered my resignation, my current firm/organization made me a counter-offer. I am confused by this and unsure of how to handle it. What advice can you give me?
A: These situations are tricky at best and the way in which you handle them is critical. The most important consideration at this point is for you to remind yourself of your original reasons for initiating the change. They have probably not changed in the intervening period and probably won’t change in the future. Most good employers will understand that achievers have a desire to progress and improve their current situations. While they are very aware that losing a good employee means that they have lost their investment in the time and training of that employee, they also know that they have probably received more than their money’s worth from that employee.
An employee who resigns and then stays on as a result of a counter-offer, will frequently find that his or her loyalty and status as a team player will be brought into question down the line. Statistically, more than 80% of employees who accept a counter-offer find themselves moving on within six months! Any candidate receiving a counter-offer should never see it as an opportunity to up the ante by playing his or her current employer off against the new employer in order to sell his or her services to the highest bidder. Remember that the legal market is small and that you could be damaging your reputation by failing to conduct yourself professionally and appropriately.
Q: I have a second interview, and am not quite sure what to expect and how to prepare. Should I be thinking differently about how I prepared for the 1st interview?
A: The second interview means that you have caught their attention, and have proved you are technically competent to handle the role in question. So your starting point should be what can you add to this? Because the interviewer is precisely looking for you to add to the 2nd meeting, you need to be thinking how do you add value, what do you have that is more than technical competence? What more can they learn about you that will further enhance your profile? At all stages in the interview, and especially at 2nd interview, take the initiative and be proactive in self-promotion whilst importantly gauging how the interviewer is engaging with you.
The Interviewer may also be waiting for you to reveal yourself. Adopting a responsive and proactive approach is as essential.
Q: It’s coming up for review time and I am not sure how to address promotion?
A: When considering going for a promoted role, think about what is required, what skills are sought out, what about a following? Where can you add value?
You also have to consider the reality of longer-term prospects in that particular firms, as well as the core practice areas the firm is involved in and how well this matches your skills profile. How many years down the line should you be considering a senior or partner level position? As for all stages of career progression, you have to consider the personality fit.
Equally think how a promoted post within your firm can add value to your professional experience, should you wish to move on in the future. Would it be of greater value to your career plan to move on to a promoted post with a different firm? Are you lacking the wider frame of reference you’ll need to support your professional experience should you choose to move in the future?
Q: How can I be sure that I am getting the best value service from my recruitment consultant?
A: Make sure you are building a relationship with your recruitment consultant and that this is based on mutual trust and respect. Careers like relationships need nurturing to grow, and so you need to be satisfied that you are working with someone who has your best interests at heart. Recruitment itself is becoming increasingly strategic and consultants are adopting a quasi-counselling role. This comes back to how we as recruitment consultants should be thinking about adding value. And while commercially it would not make sense to take on the full-time mantle of ‘career adviser’, your recruiter should have a precise understanding of where you are now, of where you want to go, and be able to advise how you get there.
Q: I’m working really long hours and feel like I am going to crack up! How can I talk this through with my firm?
A: When it gets to breaking point, you really need to raise this sensitive issue. We understand how hard this can be, you want to show you are capable, committed, ambitious, driven, on board with the business objectives, but you have to look after your physical health and mental well-being or you are no use to anyone. If you are lucky to have an understanding Partner you can discuss this with, then do it. If not, try HR, or maybe even start at the other end of the scale and talk things through with a colleague. It is always a good idea to think about possible solutions.
Perhaps you agree that during the week, you will finish 1 or 2 days at 5-6pm, and not take work home. The key is to think very carefully about what changes could be made that are practical and feasible, without jeopardising the commercial goals of the practice or your health any longer. It is also always worthwhile to look at your home life, and consider again very carefully any changes you can make there that could reduce some of the pressures you feel you are under.
Q: After my traineeship, should I automatically think about changing firm?
A: No. You may be surprised to find out that from our experience a high percentage of trainees are keen to remain with their training firm upon qualification. The reason why is quite simple. If you are happy with the firm, you feel you are getting the exposure to the work you want, are interested in and enjoy, then there is no reason to move just for the sake of moving. In any case, many NQs review their own position, often 6 months down the line. So if you are happy with the firm, then staying with them will not do you or your career any harm.
Q: How do I ask for a pay rise?
A: Many lawyers contact us for a chat about salary levels, especially at salary review time. As well as chatting through our annual salary guide on our website, there is inevitably some discussion around industry levels, annual increments, and knowing what you are worth. The measures you can use when you are preparing for this discussion are to look at business objectives that have been set, whether you have achieved them and by how much. Gather all the evidence you can find of your achievements in the past 12 months, and give careful thought to how you communicate this. The key is to spell out how you personally have added value. Remember that employers want a motivated workforce, and they know that denying what is due will not achieve this.