We recently sat down with three legal professionals to find out how they secured their NQ positions and to find out how their experience was dealing with Sellick Partnership throughout the process. What role are you in now? How did Sellick Partnership help you to secure the position? I am working as a Newly Qualified Lawyer, within the Contracts and Procurement team at LGSS Law. Towards the end of my training contract, I knew I wanted to seek a challenge elsewhere, however I was focusing on looking at commercial property roles as this was the area I had the most experience in. When I spoke to Sellick Partnership about the contract and procurement lawyer role, I was a little unsure at first, however once I looked into this role further and after speaking with the team at Sellick Partnership about it, I realised that this was the perfect role for me to start my legal career and decided to go for it – it was the best choice I made, and it’s a perfect role for me! How did you hear about Sellick Partnership? The previous authority I worked at had used Sellick Partnership for a number of their locum positions and I had heard good things about how they work with locums, so I wanted to try them myself. How did Sellick Partnership assist with advising and guiding you on which areas of law would be best to go into? They were brilliant at providing help and guidance for me and sent me roles that I perhaps wouldn’t have considered. The team at Sellick Partnership pointed out that this role drew on experience gained in other jobs before my legal career, which would benefit me in my new role. What advice did Sellick Partnership give you when looking for roles and how was this useful? They reminded me to be open minded about jobs and not limit myself. I had gained experience in a few areas of law, and the team at Sellick Partnership helped me focus on those different areas when considering different jobs. And as mentioned before, they looked at my CV as a whole, taking into consideration my previous experience, and helped me to use that as well to secure a role. What did you find the hardest part of coming into the market as a Newly Qualified Solicitor after finishing your training contract? The job search as a Newly Qualified Solicitor is really tough. It can feel like hiring managers are all looking for a Solicitor with at least a few years PQE. Also, it is hard as I was looking at the market as a whole without having a specific specialism in mind at that point. I thought I wanted to look at a commercial property role so naturally I was drawn to those jobs, but it is important to keep an open mind and look at any role where you have gained experience previously, as you never know which area of law you will end up enjoying working in. I finished my training contract in October 2020 and wanted to take some time out, but at that time of the year it is also difficult looking for a job as the market is really candidate heavy. However, once again with Sellick Partnership’s help and guidance I interviewed for this role at the beginning of December 2020 and started right after the Christmas break in January 2021 – it couldn’t have worked out better if we had tried! What were the benefits of working with Sellick Partnership rather than going through your job search alone? Looking for a job is a difficult task, especially during a global pandemic. However, working with Chelsey at Sellick Partnership made the process a lot better. I certainly didn’t feel alone during the process, and Chelsey was always on hand with an update or support when needed. Even after the interview, I was able to de-brief with Chelsey on how I thought it went, and she was able to obtain an update from LGSS Law fairly quickly, so there was not a lot of waiting around to find out how I did. Chelsey also helped me prepare for the interview and gave me some excellent tips – as during a pandemic, with remote interviews taking place, it’s rather different and strange at times. Were you aware that Sellick Partnership could assist with permanent roles? I didn’t actually know that to begin with, I thought it was only locum roles, but after a quick call with Sellick Partnership, they reassured me and helped me find a permanent role! Would you recommend Sellick Partnership to others and why? Absolutely! I have already recommended Sellick Partnership to anyone I have spoken to who is looking for a new challenge. They are such a knowledgeable team, and so helpful, and most importantly they are able to advocate on your behalf to the recruiting team. So not only do you have your own interview to make a great impression – you then have the team from Sellick Partnership who will also help you in this process and really help the hiring manager see why you are a perfect fit for their team. They have such good working relationships with their clients, so they know what type of candidate their clients need when they are looking for a job. And they also take the time needed to understand what kind of job you are looking for as a candidate, and fit that perfect match. I truly don’t think I would have found a job that I love so much, had it not been for Chelsey at Sellick Partnership!
For employers, one of the key aspects of cultivating a productive, dynamic and committed workforce is to make sure that employees feel supported in pursuing their personal goals, alongside and in conjunction with their career development. When those goals include parenthood, this can create challenges for businesses, but these can be overcome with creative thinking. A significant proportion of working adults will become parents at some point in their lives, which is why many employers are focused on making sure working parents are able to achieve a solid work-life balance, and able to progress their careers smoothly without needing to neglect their family responsibilities. Being able to offer this flexibility is a key factor for ambitious candidates when looking for a new role, so it is important that your business is able to do so. There are a number of ways for companies to eliminate the “parent trap” that once prevented working parents from easily accessing promotion and career advancement opportunities. By thinking proactively about how to achieve this, your business can demonstrate a concrete commitment to helping staff to develop on both a personal and professional level. Here, the team at Sellick Partnership will explore some of the methods that organisations can employ to give working parents the best possible opportunity to make the very most of their careers. What barriers have working parents typically faced? Providing tailored support for working parents is a necessary step towards dismantling some of the barriers that this demographic has traditionally faced in terms of career advancement. For many, having children has meant being faced with a mutually exclusive choice between their professional development and the needs of their young family, meaning they miss out on career opportunities they would otherwise have been offered. Multiple studies have demonstrated the prevalence of the “motherhood pay penalty”, with Trades Union Congress analysis from 2016 showing that by the age of 42, mothers in full-time work were earning 11% less on average than full-time women without children. When looking at the difference between women and men of this age, the gap widens considerably to 34%. Additionally, many employees simply do not return to their previous careers after taking parental leave, due to a feeling that promotion and leadership opportunities will no longer be available to them. Developing an effective strategy to support working parents means taking all of these factors into account, and then creating solutions that can address them one by one. What does a working parent look like today? Another factor that must be accounted for when thinking of new ways to help parents progress their careers is the ever-changing face of working parenthood. Family structures are becoming more diverse and different than ever before, and employers should be doing all they can to keep pace with this change. In the past, support measures for working parents were targeted specifically at new mothers, including maternity leave arrangements and working benefits aimed solely at women, but this is now changing. Fathers are also now in need of parental leave and support measures to help them take an active role in raising their children, while additional provisions are needed for single parents, same-sex couples and those who are adopting. As such, it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting working parents. Because every family unit is different, everyone is likely to have different needs, so it is up to employers to assess their workforce’s needs on a case-by-case basis, allowing them to come up with interventions that properly address these requirements. Direct support The simplest and most direct interventions your company can make to support working parents is to provide specific benefits, allowances and support schemes designed to provide staff with additional financial or practical assistance in balancing their work and family responsibilities. This could include support with childcare costs, for example, or enhanced pension contributions for staff who need to take on part-time roles in order to look after their children. Some companies choose to offer equal amounts of paid leave to all parents, regardless of their gender or family role, while some large companies even provide on-site creche facilities, all of which helps to make these businesses much more attractive for new parents. Additionally, the importance of flexibility and adaptable schedules cannot be overstated. This has been a key theme of the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of the lessons learned in terms of embracing home working options, flexible hours and always-accessible digital training tools should also apply to working parenthood. Companies should be prepared to think outside the box more often about whether senior full-time roles could potentially be offered on a part-time basis or through a job share model, to accommodate a highly skilled professional who is only able to commit to certain hours. By offering greater flexibility, you can make it possible for parents to develop their own schedules, allowing them to work more and progress within the organisation, without undermining or impacting their childcare responsibilities and work-life balance. You can also open up new avenues for promotion and development that are not typically available to staff working shorter hours. Cultural changes and tailored support This flexibility can go beyond your direct support measures and inform a wider shift in your business culture towards a more employee-centred approach, one that focuses on identifying the specific needs and expectations of every member of staff and creatively developing new solutions to address these. As discussed earlier, the needs of every working parent is likely to be different, so it follows that the best way to find out what these are is to simply ask. Communicate directly with your staff to find out what their ideal scenarios for working parenthood would look like, and then set this as a target to aim for as you develop bespoke solutions and mutual compromises. The aim should be to offer these employees as much freedom and support as possible, while still serving the best interests of the organisation as a whole. By embracing the possibilities afforded by a less rigid approach to developing your staff support programmes, you will open the door to more creative solutions. For example, some companies choose to provide their staff with a half-day of dedicated personal development time each month, allowing them to step away from their day-to-day responsibilities and focus on what energises them, enhancing their overall mental health and engagement. You may also wish to consider implementing mentoring schemes, led by senior leaders who have gone through the experience of working parenthood already and can offer advice to others on how to overcome the challenges. This can be complemented by strong peer-to-peer support, encouraging working parents from across the organisation to share help and advice, and to identify and raise any issues that need to be addressed by the company as a team. Above all, the key to helping working parents progress in their careers is to create a culture in which the contributions and potential of mothers and fathers is actively valued and promoted. So many of the key skills companies look to cultivate in managers — including emotional intelligence, adaptability, problem-solving, multi-tasking and mediation — are natural parts of parenthood; as such, it makes perfect business sense to prize these individuals for those skills, actively looking for opportunities to bring their valuable life experiences and perspectives into more senior roles. By taking these steps, you can create a truly inclusive working culture where parenthood is no barrier to progress, allowing you to attract a broader pool of talent and ensuring that your entire workforce feels valued, motivated and loyal, no matter how their life circumstances may change. To learn more about how your organisation can support working parents, read our advice piece. You can also get in touch with the specialist recruitment consultants at Sellick Partnership to find out how we can help you make yourself more attractive as an employer and access the very best talent available.
With lockdown measures lifting, there is a renewed focus on when and how the workforce will be returning to the office. There is no doubt that many people are able to carry out their job effectively from home, but the question remains if that is something they would want to do indefinitely. After more than a year of remote working to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is only reasonable to assume that there might be some apprehension about venturing back into the workplace. Many employers will be more willing to consider a more flexible approach to how and where people work, with staff splitting their time between the office and home. So whether you are returning to the office five days a week or favouring a hybrid approach, we have shared some of the most significant benefits of being back in the workplace. A purpose-built environment Returning to the office promises a dedicated professional environment perfectly suited to work. In addition to high-quality furnishings, reliable broadband connections and ergonomic design – all of which make it much easier to work effectively – employees benefit from the major focus that has been placed on making office environments as inclusive and inviting as possible in recent years. When working remotely, it can be incredibly difficult to find the space necessary to make it a sustainable long-term option. Whether it is having to share a workspace with family members, keeping children busy or dealing with pets excited to have their owners at home, each person has their own individual circumstances that can make working from home challenging. When in the office, the whole workforce benefits from a level playing field and access to the resources required to make their role as easy as possible. Without room for a dedicated office space, many people can find themselves working perched on breakfast bars or on the sofa. The inequality in the space and resources employees have readily available at home can mean that some might struggle in silence. Without the same oversight an office offers, it could take leadership much longer to recognise that a staff member is struggling and fix the issue. Better communication While digital communication has proven to be an effective tool when working from home, there is no doubt that face-to-face communication can allow for greater collaboration and a sense of community within an organisation. The inherent formality of video conferencing can often make people, particularly more junior members of a team, feel uncomfortable to voice their concerns or opinions. By removing the physical barriers that have been a constant over the last year, all employees will feel more comfortable and confident in asking questions and sharing ideas. For everything from formal meetings to new business opportunities, to office chit-chat, and even answering a quick query, in-person communication is a great way to strengthen bonds within any business. On a personal level, having the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with your colleagues beyond the confines of scheduled meetings is important. Not only does it help to maintain the culture of a business, but it can provide informal support and guidance for employees at every level. Progression and development One of the biggest benefits of returning to the office is the opportunity to observe what is happening within the wider organisation. In addition to formal training and development, so many people learn from those around them. Particularly for more junior staff, the opportunity to shadow more experienced colleagues is invaluable. Without the opportunity to see how other team members approach tasks and work through problems, employees can feel like their professional development is entirely in the hands of external factors or a pre-agreed development schedule. With so much focus being placed on collaboration, one of the easiest ways to ensure it happens is to have staff working together in the same space. It is only when you remove physical barriers that employees are able to get involved in broader business activity, and proactively pitch in on projects that they feel will help them gain more experience and develop their skills. Work/life balance While some people have benefited from not having commuting costs, the lack of physical separation between work and home life has been a struggle for many. Being able to work effectively and without distraction in the office is important for productivity. The temptation to come back online in the evening is much weaker when you are confident that you have been as efficient as possible during the working day. The ritual of travelling home from the office also creates a much-needed physical barrier to help people switch-off. Ultimately, the events of the last 12 months will have resulted in many employers becoming more willing to adopt a hybrid approach, where employees split their time between the office and home. While greater flexibility is brilliant, it does not diminish the many benefits of being back in the office. Any employee concerned about returning to the office should speak to their employer and try to find a compromise that all parties are comfortable with. If you are looking for a new office and your next role, please contact one of our talented Consultants today to learn more about how we can help you to secure your ideal job.
What type of legal roles do Sellick Partnership recruit for within the public sector? Sellick Partnership is a market leader in legal recruitment and as such, we have built expert knowledge of our sector – our clients want us to use our knowledge to help bring talented legal professionals into their teams on both a temporary and permanent basis. Previously, we were predominantly specialised in locum positions, but as a result of our years of experience and trusted expertise, more and more of our clients now approach us to help with permanent positions. To put it into numbers, in 2020 Sellick Partnership increased recruitment numbers by 50% for permanent legal roles within the Public Sector. Does Sellick Partnership recruit junior roles, or do you only recruit to mid-senior level roles? What experience level do Sellick Partnership recruit for? The Sellick Partnership legal team recruit for vacancies at all levels including partners, senior solicitors, newly qualified solicitors as well as paralegals and legal officers. Many of our long-standing candidates have progressed their career with us after initially securing Paralegal roles. Whatever stage you are at in your career – Sellick Partnership can help. It is highly likely that we will have a role that will match whatever you are looking for in your next move. If you are struggling to determine what that next move might be too, we can always offer some advice and guidance on this. It is also worth noting that public sector organisations are always keen to receive applications from more junior candidates as they are keen to offer training and development opportunities and provide a structured career path for them. Again, to give you some numbers Sellick Partnership have increased placements of NQs by 20% in a role within local authority in 2020 compared with 2019, with numbers in 2021 continually growing. Are Sellick Partnership in contact with hiring managers all the time – will my manager find out I am looking for a new role? Confidentiality is something we take very seriously at Sellick Partnership, and we have a responsibility to do so. We would never discuss your circumstances or share your CV without your consent. As market leaders in the legal recruitment industry, our clients and candidates choose to work with us time and time again not just for our expertise, but also the level of confidentiality and assurance we provide. Any conversations with our Consultants regarding your professional development and any potential career moves are completely private and confidential. How safe and appropriate is it to look for a new role at the moment given the COVID-19 pandemic? Every candidate across every industry and sector has probably felt a little anxious about moving roles during a global pandemic. However, at Sellick Partnership, we have seen the organisations we work with really embrace either fully remote working or a mix of remote/office based working. This has meant that many organisations have quickly found alternative ways to on-board, train and welcome new team members remotely. Things such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, regular team catch ups and buddy systems have all played a huge role in this. Where is the best place for Newly Qualified Solicitors to look for roles? Is there specific places where recruitment agencies and hiring managers would advertise them? It is really important for Sellick Partnership to reach as many potential candidates as possible, and this is why we engage with a wide variety of media. Sellick Partnership use the traditional job boards, such as Totally Legal, Simply Law and Indeed, however regularly post on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. That being said, websites like Lawyers in Local Gov are a valuable resource for NQs and not just for job seeking. It is important for Sellick Partnership to target our specific candidates so that the jobs that arrive in your inbox are as relevant as possible. If you have any further questions or if you would like some more advice, please contact us and speak to your Sellick Partnership Recruitment Consultant. Alternatively, you can check out our latest live public sector legal jobs here.