We are often asked by our candidates about whether there is a “best” time or season to begin a job search. While there are certain times of year when vacations and holidays may make a job search move more slowly (i.e., at the end of the summer, the week between Christmas and New Year, etc.), job seekers should not tie themselves to a calendar. Rather, the average job search can take as long as 6 to 9 months — and sometimes as long as a year — so even if you start interviewing right now it does not mean you will have a new position in a matter of weeks.
If you are ready for a new job – or will be ready in the near future – here’s what you can do right now to put yourself in the best position to get started:
Update your resume
Our first tip may be an obvious one: update your resume. It seems simple, but often it takes a bit more time to add the relevant details of your current position and organize the experience and responsibilities that you want to highlight.
In addition to completing your resume, if you’ve practiced for five years or more we typically recommend that you put together a “representative experience” list. This list would be a representative transactions list if you’re a transactional attorney or a representative litigation list if you’re a litigator.
It is also a good idea to update your LinkedIn profile. Be sure to write a summary that includes keywords related to your practice area, and include the same (or similar) information that you include in your resume. Recruiters often search LinkedIn for candidates, – and employers often review your LinkedIn profile – so you want to make sure that it is properly updated.
Obtain your law school transcript
Regardless of your level of experience, prospective employers often require law school transcripts for lateral candidates. While many law schools have transcripts available for instant delivery online, some schools have a processing time to obtain a transcript. For that reason it is best to obtain your transcript if needed, so you have it ready to go for when you begin your search.
Nurture your network
It is also a good time to reconnect with former colleagues and classmates and other friends in the industry. You don’t have to tell them that you’re looking around (although if you feel comfortable, you may want to mention it in case they have any suggestions), but networking is always a good idea – and it is helpful to remain top of mind should any of your contacts learn of opportunities that may be of interest to you.
Evaluate your book of business
If you’re an experienced attorney who may be able to bring clients with you to your next position, you’ll need to start assessing what your book of business might look like should you move to a new position. Of course, you always need to consider legal, ethical and fiduciary obligations when moving with portable clients. To that end, we suggest that attorneys with potentially portable business seek legal counsel who can provide advice on how to properly make a career move, particularly when you have a developed client base that is significant to your lateral move.
Which brings us to our next piece of advice . . .
Find a well-established legal recruiter
Last – but certainly not least – we suggest that you connect with an experienced legal recruiter to advise and assist you with your search, such as the professional recruiters at McCormack Schreiber Legal Search. This is a key person with whom you can confidentially discuss your experience, background and professional objectives, and who can educate you about the current marketplace and positions that may best meet your career goals.
McCormack Schreiber Legal Search is Chicago’s premier attorney search firm. Since 1998, we have been placing experienced attorneys of all levels in a full range of exciting law firm and in-house positions. We are committed to providing the highest level of service and results, and we welcome you to contact us in confidence at [email protected]