We are often asked about the “best” month or season to begin a job search, and while there are certain times of year when vacations and holidays may make a search move more slowly, job seekers should not tie themselves to the calendar.
The last few weeks of the year – and even into the first few weeks of the new year – may be slow as attorneys want to collect their year-end bonuses before they make a move. Remember, however, that an average job search can take 6-9 months – and sometimes as much as a year – to complete. Even if you start interviewing now, it doesn’t mean you’ll have a new position in a matter of weeks.
If you are ready to begin your job search – or will be within the near future – here’s what you can do now to put yourself in the best position to make the leap.
Update your resume
Our first tip may be an obvious one: update your resume. Further, in addition to your resume, if you’ve practiced for five years or more we also recommend that you put together a “representative experience” list. That 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) bullets that you use in your resume. Recruiters often search LinkedIn for candidates, and you may not show up in their search if all you’ve done is list your employers.
Order your law school transcript
Regardless of your level of experience, more and more prospective employers are requiring law school transcripts for lateral candidates. Many schools have them available for instant delivery online, but in case there is some processing time for your law school it’s best to request your transcript at the beginning of your job search.
Nurture your network
Now is also the time to reconnect with former colleagues, classmates and other friends in the industry. You don’t have to tell them you’re looking around (although if you feel comfortable, you may want to mention it in case they have any suggestions), but it is good to remain top of mind should they learn of any opportunities that may be of interest to you.
Assess 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, and 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 when your developed client base 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 – connect with an experienced legal recruiter. This is the person with whom you can confidentially discuss your experience and career objectives, and who can educate you about the current marketplace and positions that best meet your goals.