The COVID-19 pandemic has created some truly difficult times for people around the world, but those who have lost their jobs due to the resulting economic downturn, are among those who have been most seriously impacted. If this relates to you, these developments can feel devastating — but there are steps that you can take to accelerate your journey back into employment. In most cases, those who have been made redundant as a result of COVID-19 will not have lost their jobs due to any problems with their job performance or capabilities. As such, even though the current jobs market may seem demanding, it is important to remember that your credentials are just as impressive as they ever were. Those in this position should take a moment to consider a few simple pieces of advice that could potentially help them to get their career back on track as soon as possible. Make the right preparations when leaving your current role If you have only recently received the news that you will be made redundant from your role, you are likely to still be experiencing some shock. However, it may be helpful to realise that there are steps you can take to ease your transition into the next phase of your career, even before you leave your current post. For many, a key priority will be to ensure that their immediate financial future is as secure as possible, which means making sure that your current employer is paying you all the money that you are entitled to. This may include: Redundancy pay Your final salary payment Any pay in lieu if you are not working your full notice period Any remaining holiday pay you are due to receive Outstanding bonuses, commissions or expenses If you have worked for your employer for at least two years at the end of your notice period, you may also be entitled to ask for some paid time off to apply for jobs or go on training, so it is worth investigating these options to see if they are available to you. Take some time to consider your career direction Once you have left your previous role, the temptation may well be to launch yourself back into an identical or similar role as quickly as possible. However, it could be worth your while to take some time and consider whether there are any alternative career directions that may suit you better. Ask yourself the following questions: Were you truly happy in your previous role? Would you want your next role to be similar? Are there any alternative roles that you could pursue in a related field, using transferable skills from your previous job? Would you be interested in changing your career path completely? What kind of new skills and qualifications would you need to accomplish this, and how long would these take to acquire? Are you willing to explore a new type of working? For example, would you be keen to go from a full-time role to freelancing, or to start your own business? When you are involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of a full-time job, it can be hard to find the time and mental space to consider these questions, so, in this respect, you may be able to use the current situation as a rare opportunity to change your direction. Update your CV and LinkedIn profile These are obvious steps to take whenever you are looking for a new role, but should nevertheless be considered top priorities, especially if you have not updated these profiles for a number of years. Both your CV and LinkedIn profile should be expanded to include all of your most recent roles and work experience. Your CV in particular should focus on creating a concise, easily scannable profile of your professional credentials, and needs to be tailored specifically to the requirements and focal areas of the job for which you are applying. If you have made the decision to change your career pathway, this may require you to revise your current CV and professional profiles more extensively, making sure to highlight the transferable skills from your previous role that qualify you for your new choice of career. Review and reach out to your business contacts The purpose of building up a network of business contacts over the course of a career is to generate new opportunities and chances to collaborate when the time is right. Now that you are looking for new opportunities, it may be a good time to reach out and see if any of these prospects are worth cultivating. Reviewing your list of contacts may be a good way of discovering career opportunities that are not being actively advertised, or give you an advantage in an application process due to an existing relationship with the right people. In the current circumstances, a friendly contact is likely to be sympathetic to the reasons for your redundancy, and may be able to find ways of assisting your job search. Look into skills training and coaching Being out of the workforce could give you a perfect opportunity to take some time to upskill yourself, whether this is to enhance your application for a position in your current industry, or to earn the qualifications you need to pursue a brand new role. This may involve enrolling on a college-based vocational training course, taking up a personalised career coaching programme, or exploring one of the many free and paid training courses available to home-based learners online. The latter option may be particularly suitable in the current circumstances, allowing you to expand your skills in your own time without the need for face-to-face interactions. By completing a vocational course, you will be able to earn formal qualifications that can enhance your CV and make your application that much stronger. Sign up with a recruitment agency Knowing where to look for career opportunities is a challenge at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a pandemic and economic downturn. As such, many candidates will be looking to sign up with a professional recruitment agency to make the job hunting process easier and less complex. Partnering with a recruitment specialist can help to get you back into work quicker by giving you a centralised database of potential vacancies to browse online, as well as allowing you to sign up for alerts based on your specific skills, credentials and preferences. These agencies have direct connections with leading employers on the lookout for promising applicants, potentially giving you access to roles that are not advertised elsewhere. Recruitment Consultants will also work to get to know you and your capabilities in depth, helping them to identify different opportunities that will suit you perfectly. Not only will this save you time, but it will also give you a significant advantage in finding the right role. By following all of these pieces of advice, you should be able to greatly increase your chances of securing a new role after your redundancy, ensuring that you will quickly be back on a positive career trajectory as the UK begins its own recovery from the COVID-19 disruptions. If you would like some help or advice on searching for a new role, get in touch, we would be more than happy to talk to you. You can also search our current jobs here.
Last night, I presented to the Society of Asian Lawyers Law students from City, University of London on legal career options beyond university. We covered areas such as alternative legal sectors to the traditional Law firm, or Barrister chambers, as well as discussing other routes to take using a legal degree, out of the legal sector altogether. Areas such as the civil service, retail graduate schemes, banking and accounting graduate schemes, and the Police all welcome law graduates looking for an alternative career. The session ended with a Q&A and here are the questions and answers that came up. Q: What if I don’t have experience when I am applying for roles? A: You can and need to get some. Call your local authority or local high street solicitors practice and ask for a week of work experience in the legal team as you are a law student who would benefit. Send a letter in if needed. Eventually someone will always reply and that experience will be invaluable on your CV. Q: Apart from work experience how else can you stand out? A: Great question! Voluntary experience and charity work will always go down well. It will show you are a diverse and hardworking individual as you have given up your own time for the benefit of others. It highlights an ability to converse at different levels and with different audiences. These skills along with a 2:1 could be more valuable than a stand-alone first class honours degree, when it comes to employability. Q: Do you think the lawyers working in legal government roles enjoy a better work life balance than those in magic circle firm? A: Yes! Magic circle and top tier firms are very high-pressured roles which is why you are remunerated extremely well. It can be unsustainable for some and lawyers can suffer from burn out. In other legal sectors, particularly public sector legal teams, lawyers are often given time back for overtime worked and not called in their personal time. Q: Do agencies recruit paralegals? A: Yes. To be considered paralegal applicants usually need to demonstrate that along with a legal degree, and/or an LPC, they have work experience in an office environment. Even if that experience has been on a voluntary basis they will be considered. Q: What is your opinion on the role of a Chartered Legal Executive? A: Many clients are keen to get a Legal Executive on their team. Often when candidates have taken the CILEX route they have spent 6 years working in a legal setting alongside evening studies whilst qualifying and which is more favourable to some clients than a NQ Solicitor, with often only 2 years of ‘hands on’ legal experience. Q: Where do you hear about in-house legal roles? A: Often clients use agencies for harder to fill or more senior roles but for entry level they often post job information on LinkedIn. Create a profile on the site and subscribe to the job alerts on there and other job boards such as Law Gazette jobs, Totally Legal and Indeed. Once you are setup the profile of jobs you have requested will be emailed to you. Another tip would be to use the Law Society company search function and look at solicitors in the companies you would be keen to work in. You can then search and link in directly with those contacts. Q: What are good ways to network? A: LinkedIn is excellent! I recommend you create a strong profile and join some relevant groups so you can see and hear updates. Connect with relevant individuals and before you know it you are networking! Q: What would you discuss when networking? A: In my experience one topic people enjoy talking about it is themselves. Ask them some questions asking for their experience or opinion. Why did you choose the law? What would you change if you could? What would you ask if you were me? You will open up individuals and learn a lot from the answers. Q: How much do lawyers earn? A: I think there is a real lack of information out there and although magic circle and top tier firms can offer outstanding remuneration I would say the average ranges are: Trainee Solicitor - £24k - £27k NQ Solicitor - £30k - £40k 2 – 10 years PQE - £40k - £70k 10 years+ - £70k+ My thanks go to Sam Harris-Jones, Antonia Clark, of City, University of London, and also thanks to Ranjit Sond, President of Society of Asian Lawyers, for introducing me to this motivated, and ambitious group of Law students. Please feel free to email me with any questions at email@example.com.
For those seeking employment in the legal sector, there are few destinations more prestigious than the ‘Magic Circle’ and ‘Silver Circle’ law firms. These organisations are famous around the world, with hard-earned reputations for excellence. This select group of legal firms have become widely known for their commitment to the very highest standards of performance and success. As such, obtaining a role with these companies can be seen as a real marker of accomplishment for the UK’s most skilled legal professionals. Here, we explore the firms that comprise the Magic Circle and Silver Circle, looking at what differentiates these organisations and what is expected of those chosen to represent these firms. What is the Magic Circle? The term “Magic Circle” was first coined by the legal media in the 1990s to describe the most prestigious, high-performing law firms in London. All of the members of the Circle are known for their high-profile corporate and finance work, overseeing multi billion-pound transactions and delivering the highest earnings per lawyer of any law firm headquartered in the UK. This group used to be known informally as the Club of Nine, but this term fell out of use as its perceived membership became more exclusive. Today, the Magic Circle consists of five firms: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter and May. Each of the firms in the Magic Circle shares the following characteristics: Based in London, with substantial international operations. Industry-leading offerings in banking, finance and corporate law. Working with the world’s biggest and best-known corporations on major transactions with significant economic implications. Revenues and salary levels far above the UK industry average. There is no doubt that these five firms are still among the most respected names in law, retaining a powerful attraction for candidates who seek to make an impact at the very top of their profession, working on cases with global impact. What is the Silver Circle? Although the Magic Circle is seen as the top tier for UK law, this is not to say that other firms are not also capable of commanding huge respect and strong reputations. Indeed, the more recent creation of the so-called “Silver Circle” reflects this reality. This term was conceived by the industry publication The Lawyer to describe the law firms that fall just outside the Magic Circle, but which nevertheless deliver far higher revenues per lawyer than the average UK firm. When the concept was created in 2005, the Silver Circle was said to consist of Ashurst, Herbert Smith Freehills, Macfarlanes and Travers Smith, as well as the now-defunct SJ Berwin. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is also widely considered to be in the conversation for membership of this elite group, who share many of the same traits: A focus on serving a premium London-centred client base in the UK. Significantly higher profits per equity partner and revenue per lawyer than the UK average. A generally broader range of specialisms than the Magic Circle. A flexible approach to management, with an avoidance of top-down leadership and excessive bureaucracy. There is more debate about the exact membership of the Silver Circle than the Magic Circle, with The Lawyer arguing that the increasingly international focus of firms like Ashurst and Herbert Smith Freehills means they no longer belong in this category as well as debating that Mischon de Reya should now be granted membership. What is it like to work for Magic and Silver Circle law firms? Working for a Magic Circle law firm is a dream come true for many in the sector, but those seeking roles with one of these organisations must be prepared to put a lot in if they wish to earn the associated rewards. Magic Circle firms are known for their lengthy working hours, clear sense of hierarchy and demanding professional requirements. For those able to keep pace with these requirements, the payoff comes in the form of generous salaries, cutting-edge working environments and an opportunity to work on some of the industry’s biggest and most important cases. By comparison, working experiences in the Silver Circle tend to be more varied. Each company has its own distinctive culture, and are generally known for being less rigidly formal and more flexible than their Magic Circle counterparts; as such, staff can still expect to work long hours as a rule, but may experience a better work-life balance on the whole. It is worth noting there will be many well-respected, top-performing organisations who are not included in the rankings. However, for ambitious professionals, the pull of these recognised names will always be considerable provided that they are able to do what it takes to succeed in these demanding, highly competitive roles.
In the last few years, video interviews have become a common part of the recruitment process, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, those applying for new roles have had to get to grips with a whole new set of interview etiquette rules. Instead of practising their best handshakes and picking out an appropriate perfume or cologne, applicants now have to consider their webcam positioning, background noise and wifi reliability as they seek to make the best possible impression on a potential future employer. Here, we highlight some of our best tips to create the perfect setting and conditions for a video interview, bringing you one step closer to landing a dream role. Creating a clear, uncluttered and professional interview space In any interview setting, making a good first impression is crucially important, and this is no different even when you are interviewing from home. Video calls will give the interviewer a window into your personal environment, so it is important to do all you can to ensure that you represent yourself in a positive light. Arrange a neutral, tidy and uncluttered background for your interview call. An untidy or messy background could potentially reflect poorly on you, so take the time to clean up before starting the call. Use plants, tasteful furniture choices and relevant books placed in view to make your environment visually interesting. Your interviewer will inevitably be looking at what is behind you, so use this as an opportunity to underline your professional image. Remove anything overly distracting from the background. You do not want your interior decor to draw attention away from you, so make sure that you do not have any distracting items within your camera frame. Test the lighting conditions to get them just right. Once your interview space is set up, test out your camera to make sure the lighting looks correct. Is there any glare or shadows covering your face? If so, you may need to readjust the furniture or window coverings; make sure to do this around the same time of day that your interview will take place, so that your setup will reflect the actual lighting conditions. Test the position of your camera. Make sure you are not too close or too far away from the camera and that your head and shoulders are visible. Try facing the camera as well as sitting slightly to the side to find the best angle. You might need to raise or lower the height of your computer screen or your chair so it is best to test all this out ahead of the interview. Make sure you can provide a quiet environment for the interview. Your interview will go poorly if your interviewer cannot hear what you are saying, so it is vital to set yourself up in a quiet part of your home, ensuring that nobody will disturb you and that you are away from noisy pets, appliances or sounds from the TV. Double-checking your tech setup Getting your video interview space ready also means taking the time to set up and test out your tech setup in advance, ensuring that your conversation will not be delayed or disrupted by any technical glitches. Get the positioning of your computer and webcam right. When speaking to your interviewer, you will want to be framed just right by your camera. That means positioning the lens at the right angle and distance to get a good view of your head and shoulders, making sure the image is not too high or low, or that you are not too near or too far from the lens. Check the sound quality and iron out any problems. Are you certain you can be heard clearly during your call? Is there an echo in your chosen room? Will you need to wear noise-cancelling headphones? All of these are questions that you should be able to answer well before the interview starts. Ensure you have the software installed and test it out in advance. Whether your interviewer wants you to use Skype, Zoom or some other video platform for the interview, it is vital to get the software installed and set up well in advance. If you have never used it before, take the time to learn all of its key functions, potentially by holding a test call with friends or family. Make sure your internet connection is strong enough. A patchy or temperamental wifi connection could make it impossible to hold a coherent conversation. As such, you will need to make sure you are holding the call from a location with a strong connection, or else use a wired connection for the duration of the call. Check that your device is fully charged. Nothing will end your interview faster or more unceremoniously than a depleted battery! Make sure your device is properly charged before the interview starts, or keep it plugged in throughout the call to be on the safe side. Dressing to impress It is clear that many of the rules for making a positive impression on a video call are quite different from a traditional in-person meeting – but when it comes to getting your personal image right, many of the familiar old considerations will still apply. Dress appropriately for a professional meeting. When interviewing from home, it is still important to look the part. That means wearing a washed, ironed, smart and professional-looking outfit, avoiding anything too loud or overly casual. Do not wear anything distracting for the video call. Some clothing items and accessories may create unnecessary distractions during a video call, such as shiny buttons that cause a distracting glare, or jewellery that rattles against the desk or keyboard. If you notice anything like this during your practice calls, make sure to avoid these items for the interview itself. Hygiene and grooming are as important as ever. As with an in-person interview, you will want to look fresh, well-kept and smart, so make sure you take the time to shower and style your hair. The interviewer will notice and appreciate the effort you have made. Pay attention to your body language. Body language is almost as important on a video interview as it would be in person. Make sure you maintain good posture, avoid slouching, maintain eye contact and smile where appropriate – otherwise, you may risk coming across as disengaged or bored. By taking the time to make the right preparations, you can create the perfect conditions for a smooth interview experience, giving you the best possible chance of securing the role you are seeking – without even having to leave your living room. If you would like some additional support on getting ready, get in touch with the experts at Sellick Partnership today. Alternatively, you can check out our latest live jobs here.
When attending a job interview, it is only natural to be focused primarily on the questions you will be asked, and making sure that you are able to provide the interviewer with answers that give them a strong impression of your capabilities. However, it is important to remember that the direction of the questioning should not only be one-way. A job interview is not only an opportunity for an employer to get to know you; it should also be seen as a chance for you as a candidate to find out more about a prospective employer, and to figure out whether or not the company is able to offer what you will need to be happy and successful in the role. A positive working relationship needs to be mutually satisfying, and the interview represents a first opportunity to establish that dynamic. As such, when entering an interview, you should come prepared with a few questions of your own, in order to demonstrate that you are fully engaged with the process and thinking proactively about how best to succeed in the job for which you are applying. Here, we examine some of the best questions you can ask in an interview as a candidate to find out all you need to know. “What does a typical day look like here?” This is a straightforward question to ask, but is nevertheless extremely useful in giving you a clearer impression of what you could expect your day-to-day responsibilities to be in this new role. The interviewer’s response will tell you much about the ebb and flow of everyday life at the company, as well as highlighting potential challenges and opportunities for you to excel. In addition, asking this question will help to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are thinking in pragmatic terms, and that you will be keen to learn about what it takes to succeed. “What does success look like for this role, and how will you measure this?” Similar to the previous question, this presents an opportunity for you to find out what the employer would be expecting from you as you settle into the new role over a period of days, weeks and months. By asking this question, you can get an idea of what your bosses would be looking for you to achieve, how fast they are expecting you to progress, and how you can orient your personal development to hit the targets they have set for you. The interviewer is also likely to appreciate the ambition and forward thinking that this question demonstrates. “Are there opportunities for training and progression within this role?” Asking about potential training opportunities is another great way of showing the employer that you are serious about enhancing your skills and developing beyond your current capabilities. Of course, you are also sure to be interested in the answer from the perspective of your own personal development as well. This question will help you learn whether or not you will be entering into a dynamic role that can grow and change as your skills expand, and will give you an insight into how you can keep moving forward with your career within the company. “How do you look to staff to represent corporate values?” Corporate values often seem like a somewhat abstract principle, so it is useful to take time to find out more about how they actually affect workers on the ground. After all, finding the right cultural fit is just as important as simply evaluating credentials and salary rates. By asking this question, you will be able to learn how formal or relaxed the working environment is, or learn if there are any exceptional expectations placed on staff that you may need to know about. This will help you make a more informed decision about whether or not to pursue the role further. “What do you enjoy about your job? What’s your favourite part of working here?” This question allows you to flip the script to a certain degree, prompting the interviewer to share their own first-hand experiences of what it is really like to work for the company. This will tell you a lot about the qualities of the working culture and environment, and how the company’s stated principles work in practice. It is important to pay attention to your interviewer’s response to a question like this; if they seem to find it difficult to give you a positive account of their working lives, this will tell you a lot about the company that you might not otherwise have learned. “Can you tell me more about the team or colleagues I would be working with?” It is hard to know whether you will fit in with a company’s existing staff without knowing anything about them, which is why it is a good idea to ask about the individuals you are most likely to be paired with if you are given the role. Not only will this tell you a lot about the team dynamics within the organisation, but it can also reveal details about the structure of the team, the chain of command and their current project focus. All of this information will make it much easier for you to hit the ground running if you are given the chance to join the team. “Are there any other questions I can answer about myself?” With this question, you can invite your interviewer to bring up any other questions that might still be on their mind. It may be a good idea for you to prompt them to address any lingering areas of uncertainty they have about your application, giving you a chance to provide a conclusive answer. By asking this question, you can also demonstrate that you are not afraid of being questioned, rather than giving any impression that you are keen to get the interview over with as soon as possible. “What are the next steps?” This final question is always helpful, if only from a purely practical point of view. At the close of the interview, you should make sure the interviewer has everything they need from you, and that you have an idea about the timeline of when to expect a response. By closing off with this question, you can get a clearer idea of when you will hear back, and when a final decision will be made – as well as showing the interviewer that you are keen for the process to continue. Naturally, you will not necessarily need to ask every one of these questions to get the most out of your interview. However, by asking the right ones when appropriate, you can make sure that both candidate and interviewer come away from the experience with a better, clearer understanding of what each party has to offer the other.