Are you currently looking for a newly qualified (NQ) position but struggling to find a role that matches to your needs and skillset? We spoke to three qualified legal professionals to find out how they secured their NQ roles, why they chose their current firm, and get their views on what to look for in a legal recruiter. Securing an NQ position can often be a challenging and lengthy process for legal professionals. It can often be difficult to find the right firm, choose a recruiter that will listen and find the perfect role. I speak with candidates that are going through the process every day, and each has their own story to tell. I 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 were the first steps you took when beginning your search for an NQ position? Shehnaz Rahman Commercial Property Solicitor at Boyes Turner LLP said: The first and most important aspect of securing an NQ position in my opinion is getting your CV up to scratch, so I attended several CV clinics and spent time getting this ready for applying to roles. I then changed my LinkedIn status to let recruiters know I was open to vacancies and started looking for a recruiter that could help with my search. Rosie Deller, Family Solicitor at Rayden Solicitors said: Firstly, I spoke with a previous trainee from my old firm about the NQ process and how to structure CVs. Getting advice from someone that has been through the process is very helpful. After this I redrafted my CV in-line with a precedent received from an NQ information evening. Once I knew my CV was good enough I started having initial conversations with a couple of recruiters – ones that specialised in the areas I wanted work. Laura Jeal, Chartered Legal Executive at Doyle Clayton Solicitors said: I started by updating my CV, to ensure it reflected the diverse range of skills I had gained as a trainee. I had a vague awareness of other firms in the local area but used the Legal 500 to give myself a general idea of the types of firms I wanted to aim for. I also kept an eye on the legal job sites for NQ vacancies and followed up with any recruiters who contacted me about NQ roles. How did you decide what area of law to qualify into? How soon did you know? Shehnaz said: Before I started my training contract I had an interest in property law but wasn’t sure whether to specialise in commercial or residential. During my training contract I had experience in both and enjoyed commercial property the most. That is why it is important to try and gain as much exposure as possible while training as it will really help make your final decision. Rosie said: During my training contract there were two main practice areas – property and family. Personally, I found property incredibly dry and boring, but family law very interesting. I spoke with a couple of family solicitors that I knew about the profession and what it is like once qualified and it only reconfirmed my decision that family law was the right area for me. Laura said: I’ve wanted to work in employment law ever since I started studying. I worked in a call centre before I began my studies and every email from HR had me questioning whether what they were doing was above board (I now know it was, for the record). Since working in an employment law environment, it has underlined its appeal to me, as it has the perfect mix between contentious and non-contentious work. If you could go back in time, what do you now know that you wish you had known at the start of the process? Shehnaz said: When I first started looking for an NQ role I instructed three recruitment agencies, which was completely unnecessary. I think the best approach is to have initial chats with various recruiters to get an understanding of what they have to offer and whether there is a connection between you and the recruiter, if you like them, then instruct them. I found some recruiters pushy and tried to pressure me to interview with firms which were (a) not in my desired specialism (b) not in my desired location. My advice would be to find a recruiter that has your best interests in mind and stick with them. I also started my search in my final seat, however I would suggest starting your search earlier. Rosie said: Do not panic. The market for NQ solicitors was stagnant when I first started looking, and everyone’s situation is very different, so don’t get down about it. For example, my friend had found a suitable role about six months before he was due to qualify, which was very lucky. I decided early on that I did not want to stay at the firm I was training at and the lack of opportunities when I first started looking did not fill me with much hope that I would be able to move roles. Also, do not accept too many approaches from recruiters on LinkedIn. At the start I accepted any recruiter that wanted to connect with me. Rather than simply just accept, I should have researched into them and the company to determine whether they would be the right fit to assist me. I probably wasted more time having initial conversations with other recruiters who were not right to assist me. Laura said: Be patient with your search! Firms aren’t always hiring, and your dream firm may be just around the corner if you’re willing to wait. What attracted you to the firm you are working at? Shehnaz said: Boyes Turner has an extremely strong reputation in Reading and a lot of people from my training firm had moved there, so it was clearly doing something right! It also has an impressive line-up of developer clients. Having now worked here for almost a year, I can certainly say it was the best move/decision I made. It is extremely friendly, transparent and everyone is very supportive. The Partners here are keen to support and develop your knowledge and train you up. Rosie said: Rayden Solicitors is a highly respected and well-ranked law firm. I spoke with several family solicitors in London and they had all mentioned how great Rayden Solicitors was and that I would be happy and be able to progress with them. I had two offers from two firms on the table and decided to take Rayden’s which was a slightly lower salary due to the reputation and career progression that they could offer. Laura said: There were several factors. Firstly, my previous boss and trainee supervisor both came from Doyle Clayton. I respected both as incredible lawyers and knew that was in part because of the training and support they had received at my firm. In addition, Doyle Clayton are ranked as a tier one firm for employment law for the region, which to me means their advice is valued, and they have a diverse range of clients. When I interviewed there, I felt immediately at home and knew it was where I wanted to work. Why did you decide to choose Sellick Partnership to assist you with the search? Shehnaz said: Faith was the first person to contact me on LinkedIn, before I even started looking for NQ positions. Many recruiters sent generic messages to me, however Faith clearly did her research and her initial message was personal to my experience and location. Faith is extremely diligent and hardworking. In comparison to other recruiters out there, she is one of the best recruiters I have come across. Interview prep and understanding the firm you will interview for, are some of the main concerns NQs have. Faith provided extensive guidance on these, so you feel confident when going into the interview. The NQ recruitment market is highly competitive, so you need a recruiter who is proactive and persevering, and Faith can certainly deliver that. Rosie said: After having an initial chat with you, you completely understood my position and the type of role that I wanted. Other recruiters that I spoke with didn’t really listen to the practice area of law and location that I wanted and continued to press me to consider other roles that weren’t suitable. The market after I first spoke to you was stagnant and there was not a lot of vacancies. Rather than send these to me to try and make me consider them in order to place me as quickly as possible, you waited for the right opportunities. Laura said: Faith and I were already connected, and she posted on LinkedIn to say she was keen to speak to NQs in all areas. I arranged a phone call with Faith and we discussed what I was looking for. I knew from the first call that this would be a useful relationship to have. Faith wasn’t just putting me forward for any old vacancy – she considered the type of firms I was looking at, and was able to talk knowledgeably about each firm, their ethos and way of working. I never received anything less than a personal service. No other recruiter could compare. Next steps If you are about to finish your training contract and are looking for an NQ position they get in touch, Faith would be delighted to work with you to find your perfect role, or for further advice you can check out Faith’s blog here. Alternatively, you can check out our latest live legal jobs here.
The NHS is renowned across the globe for its workforce, and the career opportunities on offer across the organisation are endless. From clinical roles to office jobs, the NHS can offer ambitious talent a wealth of opportunities and rewards employees with great benefits and an opportunity to build a long and successful career. Public Sector Manager Adam Rouse recently sat down with Scott Jarvis, one of four Deputy Directors of Finance at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust to find out why he has stayed with the NHS for 32 years, and what he feels the NHS offers candidates looking for a fulfilling and lengthy career. Can you tell me a bit about your career and experience to date? My career started a long time ago. I graduated university in 1987 with a mathematics, statistics and economics degree and at the time didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wrote to some local employers and ended up getting a meeting with the then deputy treasurer of Southern Derbyshire Health Authority. At the time he was looking for a trainee to join his team, and after that initial discussion we both agreed to ‘give it a go’, so I started the following Monday. While working as a local district trainee Southern Derbyshire Health Authority allowed me to take time out to complete my CIMA qualification and gave me exposure to various departments, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Once qualified I was promoted to Senior Management Accountant and looked after all the corporate HQ budgets. This gave me good access to the Senior Management Team and helped me increase my presence within the organisation. I then took a secondment to the Family Health Services Authority (FHSA) and moved all their hand-written bound ledgers and day books onto spreadsheets. During this time we did a lot with GP fund holders and I managed a number of staff. When the FHSA merged I took a secondment to the Derby City General Hospital giving me a real feeling of working and doing good for the NHS. I joined as a Directorate Accountant and worked my way up to Head of Financial Management. Soon after I joined we merged with the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, implemented a new ledger for day one of the merger, applied for and got first wave Foundation Trust status and built a large PFI hospital. All the experience I ever needed was in Derby, so I never moved. More recently Derby has merged with Burton Hospitals and we now have five sites and over 12,000 employees. I’ve been working here now for over 20 years and deputy for about 15 of them. Does the NHS have exciting career progression opportunities? Yes. At school and university I never had the ambition to be an accountant and certainly never considered the NHS as a career. I ended up working for the NHS by accident because someone gave me a break, I studied and qualified and then never looked back. I was lucky that at the time the demands on NHS Finance departments were growing faster than the supply of qualified accountants. Since then the importance of finance has grown enormously and the service has become far more organised and professional as a result. There is an excellent NHS graduate training scheme but also far more opportunities to start as an apprentice in your local area and work your way up. Is it easy to find out what opportunities for progression are available? Most job vacancies are advertised on the NHS jobs national website and it is really easy to register an account and then to receive alerts for roles that come up in the locations and role types that you are interested in. Also, once you are in a role in a department there are often opportunities in other areas of finance within that organisation or nearby. The NHS is the sort of organisation where you will either love it and stay forever or move on if you decide it is not for you. Because the NHS is a large group of individual organisations it is very possible to have a long and varied career and to remain within the larger NHS throughout. What do you put your success in the NHS down to? I have always been open to doing more than was written in my current job description. The NHS moves surprisingly quickly sometimes so you just have to adapt and keep up. Political announcements can be made one day and the ‘rules’ changed overnight. Be prepared for constant change and you will be fine. I have always tried to maintain a large group of contacts within the NHS finance community and this has been greatly helped by being actively involved with networking events run by the HFMA (Healthcare Financial Management Association), both locally and nationally. What do you think makes a successful NHS employee? In NHS finance and the NHS in general it’s just about trying your best to do the right thing. The regime and rules and targets and financial pressures make the job difficult but at the end of the day, the NHS is full of people doing their best every day to do the right thing by patients. Even in the finance departments. The NHS has a good track record for holding onto its employees, why do you think this is? It’s a vocation, a job for life. However, you got into the NHS, if you are bitten by the bug then you’re quite likely to stay for a long time. I still work with some people who were already here when I joined all those years ago. It’s a big family. Some of the people I work with now I met as babies as they were born to colleagues! Will this success continue? Do you think the next generation of NHS workers will have the same commitment/longevity that you have enjoyed? Like with many jobs nowadays, the younger generations seem to be happy to switch jobs, employers and even careers, much more than my generation. The NHS finance community is large enough to accommodate this and should support them more to switch between organisations and roles. It will be beneficial for the organisations if the employees have wider experiences of other parts of the NHS. We need to balance this with organisational memory though. A lot of my success has come from being here long enough to know why we did something! What do you think about the current NHS staffing crisis and what can we do to help the NHS attract the talent it needs? We don’t train enough people to be the NHS staff of the future. This isn’t such a problem with finance roles as all industries employ finance staff so if the offer is good enough we will always be able to recruit. For clinical staff this isn’t the case. The NHS is to a large extent, the sole employer in the country for some types of staff. If we don’t train enough then each organisation will be competing with every other one for a limited supply. We must think longer term and train more people. Why do you think there is such a strain on NHS talent at the minute? The demands placed on the NHS by the public continue to increase year-on-year. For an aging population this is not really a surprise. Reductions in services provided by other areas of the public sector have also massively impacted on the NHS. As it is “always open” it becomes the safety net as more and more people seek help that is no longer available from other sources. If you had a single piece of advice to NHS candidates what would that be? My advice is always the same, take all the opportunities that present themselves, listen to the people who have been doing the job for years regardless of their grade or position, don’t assume you know everything already, join the HFMA and go to events and build long-term relationships in your networks. Your networks will help you in the future. What next… If you like what you hear and are interested in a job within the NHS, please get in touch with myself or a member of our NHS recruitment. Alternately you can check out our latest NHS jobs here.
More and more legal candidates are finding it increasingly difficult to get back into work after a long career break. We often speak to candidates that are hitting barriers when trying to return to work and face discrimination because of a spell away from the legal sector, which can be hugely demotivating. Whether your career break was planned, or for reasons out of your control, it can be challenging to get your foot back in the door, ensure you are interview ready and gain the relevant experience needed to get back into work. But we are here to help. Senior Consultant Sara Robinson recently sat down with Davinder Bal who has recently returned to work after some time out to get her advice on what candidates in the same situation should do, and how organisations can support more legal talent looking to get back into work. What are the biggest challenges you have faced when trying to get back into work after a long career break? One of the biggest challenges I faced was a lack of confidence. When you have been out of a sector like law for so long it can be nerve-racking trying to get back into it. I have been out of the legal sector for around five years. I took a break to have a family and to get involved in some property work, and during that time there have been many changes which made me doubt my ability to do the role successfully. My slightly outdated knowledge made me feel like it would make more sense for a firm or organisation to take on a newly qualified candidate because their knowledge would be more up-to-date. This obviously made me feel anxious about getting back into law and I bet that so many other candidates face the same confidence issues. What sort of stigma did you come across when searching for a new job after your career break? I faced a lot of stigma around my reasons for taking a break, which I feel was unfair. I left to have a family and while I was off I also got the chance to do some property work. The whole experience has helped build my character and give me additional life experience that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. People often view career breaks as a negative, but I think they can be incredibly valuable and give people a new perspective that can be hugely beneficial to a company. I also faced a lot of stigma around my need for some flexibility when looking for a new opportunity in the sector. I have young kids and I needed some leeway on the standard 9-5 working week and I found that there is still a lot of businesses that will shut you down on this. Overall, I felt like a lot of places just didn’t want to invest the time and training to get me back up to speed and did not want to give me the flexibility I needed to work whilst bringing up a young family. What sort of things did you do to try and re-fresh your experience/CV? A lot of people told me to volunteer at legal firms to refresh my experience but it’s not something everyone can do. It’s hard to pay for childcare that gives you the time to volunteer if you aren’t being paid for it. This can be extremely demotivating, and not having people around you can make this difficult. Speaking to ex-colleagues and friends in the legal sector really helped me in this regard. It gave me a massive confidence boost that I could still do it without getting the experience I was told I needed. I do think there is a real gap in the market for accessible refresher and training courses. There are some out there, but they are so expensive that they’re only available to a few. How do you think organisations and managers can support people trying to get back into work? Businesses need to be open-minded and think outside the box. There aren’t enough of us to do the jobs that are out there, so if more businesses were open to candidates that have had a break they could help close the skills gap across the sector. Having a return to work plan for people would also be great. This can include things like a phased return or offering additional support/training to returning employees in the first few months. Legal candidates coming back into the profession want to know that someone is going to work and support them, so making this clear is very important, and companies could really benefit from promoting what they can do to help from the offset. There is also the money side of it. Renewing your PC is expensive and not everywhere offers support with this. If you’ve been out of work for a while, then this can be quite a big hit to take. How do you think recruitment agencies can help people who are looking to get back into work after a long career break? Recruitment agencies are hugely important and can help advise, but they need to manage expectations. It’s easy to tell someone you’ll be able to find them a job in a week and promise the world, but that isn’t always possible. It’s better to provide candidates with honest feedback so that they can try and improve moving forward and offer advice where possible. Things like helping candidates with their CV or offering advice for interviews would be helpful and can make the difference between securing a new job and not. What experiences have you had with recruitment agencies during your search? A lot of recruiters contacted me and told me they would easily find me a position, but I never heard back, which was frustrating. My experience with Sellick Partnership on the other hand was very different. They have been honest and open from start to finish which I really appreciate. I felt like what I was looking for was really listened to and that the team at Sellick Partnership understood what I wanted and within a matter of weeks I had an interview lined up. I’m now back doing what I love, at a time when I really thought my legal career was over, and I can’t thank the team at Sellick Partnership enough for their help. Can we help you? If you are struggling to get back into work or are considering a career break and are looking for advice, please get in touch and a member of our legal recruitment team would be happy to help. Alternatively, you can check out our latest legal jobs here.
We are delighted to announce that Sellick Partnership has been shortlisted for Recruitment Services Provider of the Year at the HSJ Partnership Awards 2020, recognising our outstanding dedication to improving healthcare and supplying high quality staff to the NHS. The HSJ Partnership Awards celebrate the most effective partnerships with the NHS and highlight the benefits that working with the private and third sectors can bring to patients and NHS organisations. Our award entry – assisting the NHS with key projects, challenges and through periods of intense change – focused on key areas where our NHS recruitment team has added value to the NHS and supported them through challenges, including talent shortages and a lack of available candidates, mergers and acquisitions and sourcing senior hard to find candidates to drive growth. The judging panel comprised a diverse range of highly regarded figures across the NHS and wider healthcare sector. To be shortlisted as a finalist for these awards, despite tough competition from hundreds of brilliant applicants, is a mark of real achievement and something we are incredibly proud of. Stephanie Tasker, Senior Manager and experienced NHS recruiter at Sellick Partnership, commented on the news: “We have been working in partnership with NHS organisations since 2002 and being shortlisted in the HSJ Partnership Awards is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from our NHS recruitment team. We have supported the NHS through periods of intense change and have been instrumental in helping NHS organisations achieve key transformation projects across the UK. “For me working with the NHS is an honour. Being able to help such a pivotal and renowned organisation is highly rewarding, and I know my fellow NHS recruiters agree. No two days are the same, and I am looking forward to continue building relationships, and assisting the NHS for many years to come. “We are extremely excited to take our entry to the next stage of the process and discuss our strong, long-standing relationship with the NHS with the judging panel.” The winners will be selected following a rigorous, ‘live panel’ judging stage ahead of the HSJ Partnership Awards 2020 awards ceremony, which will be held at the Park Plaza Westminster on the 27 February 2020. The full list of finalists for the HSJ Partnership awards 2020 can be found on at https://partnership.hsj.co.uk, If you would like to learn more about our NHS recruitment team or how we could help you, please get in touch with a member of our team today.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in corporate finance, or are you wondering what you need to do to build a successful career within the sector? Our Newcastle Practice recruitment team recently sat down with Carl Swansbury, Partner and Head of Corporate Finance at Ryecroft Glenton, to find out what he attributes to his success, and to get his views on what finance & accountancy candidates need to do to thrive in this service line. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your experience to date? I joined PwC straight from sixth form College on the AAT/ACA fast-track course, which is a challenging but very rewarding four-year programme. I initially started out within audit and assurance, qualifying at the age of 20 and left PwC shortly after in December 2006. I always knew I wanted a career in corporate finance or consulting, so I decided to join RSM Tenon in January 2007 to pursue it. As with any new career, I started in a junior role as a Corporate Finance Executive and progressed accordingly within a four-year period, being promoted to Corporate Finance Manager, Corporate Finance Senior Manager and then Director, all during my time at RSM Tenon. In May 2011 I joined Ryecroft Glenton, successfully established the Corporate Finance function and consequently progressed to my current role as Partner and Head of Corporate Finance. What does a typical day look like for you and your team? Working within corporate finance keeps me very busy. Generally, I am on my laptop for around 7am and ready to start taking calls and attend meetings by 8am. I like to start as soon as I can in the morning so I can look at what needs to be done that day, and then plan my time accordingly. I usually start my day by going through my emails to ensure nothing urgent needs to be actioned, and then from 8am I am usually in back-to-back meetings with shareholders and funders. No two days are the same, which is part of the reason I love working in corporate finance. In terms of my team, they will be providing expert advice and guidance to clients, producing business plans, carrying out detailed research, preparing detailed financial models and leading transactions. What is the most influential thing you have learnt/been taught in your career so far? Working within any fast-paced role is enlightening, and I have learnt a great deal throughout my career, but there are two things that really stick out as being vitally important, especially for those looking to carve a successful career in the sector. The first is to always be mindful of the need to deliver clear and concise advice in a strategic way. Secondly, corporate finance professionals need to keep their knowledge up-to-date, be aware of what is going on around them and always remain optimistic. It is very easy to give up or think that giving your best is pointless in the face of adversity, however that is not true. For example, in the current political climate with Brexit looming, many finance professionals are apprehensive of what might happen, and some have let this impact their decisions. However, at Ryecroft Glenton we have remained positive throughout and have managed to achieve our best year yet, showing that a positive outlook can be hugely beneficial. Longevity at your firm is fairly obvious, what is it that’s kept you with the business so long? Being part of a full-service firm and working for a company that is results driven and committed to being a market-leading advisory firm has made my decision to stay and progress at Ryecroft Glenton very easy. The clarity of our firm’s vision is exciting and demanding, making it a very interesting place to work. Another aspect is the autonomy I have been given from stakeholders to lead at Ryecroft Glenton’s corporate finance function and drive this forward. They have recently hired two new heads into the corporate finance team and are willing to grow despite the current climate to drive the business forward, something many other firms are not doing. What are the key things that you look for when you’re looking to hire? When looking for people to join the firm it is a given that we look for individuals who are academically and technically astute. This is essential in our line of work. We also look for candidates that are likely to fit in with our core values, as cultural fit is almost as important as technical ability. For example, we look for conscious individuals who will care about our clients and colleagues and we look for candidates we can trust, so we will consider anyone that has been in a trusting position in a previous role. It is important to us to find people who are aligned with these values because we remunerate and appraise against them. What are the key challenges that you face when recruiting? Attracting talent who have the above values combined with the technical skills from the small talent pool in the area is very difficult. What learning and development opportunities are available for employees with Ryecroft Glenton? We employ candidates straight from school/university and will assist them through any official accounting or tax qualification (ACA/ACCA/CIMA/AAT/ATT etc). During their studies candidates will work with us and be mentored to ensure they have the best possible foundation to build a successful career in the sector. We also offer a four-year internal training programme within advisory. In addition to this, we also put a great deal of time and energy into ensuring our employees have the best possible chance for success. Once qualified, our employees have access to additional on-the-job coaching and additional qualifications through Accelerate to help them further their career and progress with us at Ryecroft Glenton. How do you think your business differentiates itself from the many other practices in the North East? There are several things that I believe differentiate us from our competitors. Firstly, our heritage. We are a very well-known and established firm with a clear growth strategy. Secondly, we are a market-leading firm providing full advisory services including all six service lines. There are very few other independent firms in the North East providing a service like this other than the Big 4. Finally, we can provide a national and international service from our regional location in the North East, giving people a great opportunity to travel and gain exposure to various types of businesses. How do your tailor your benefits, employee recognition and rewards to ensure you attract the best talent? We benchmark ourselves against our competitors to ensure our benefits are in-line with the rest of the market. We also carry out an annual internal survey to ask our employees if there is anything they would like to see implemented, which allows us to cater for the wants and wishes of our employees. In most firms, individuals tend to become a ‘specialist’ in a service area (Tax, Audit for example). Is it then possible for these individuals to move into a different service area? It is of course possible to change service line focus within practice. For example, we recently had an employee move into a Corporate Finance Senior Manager role from audit and assurance. Candidates just need to have a good working knowledge of the sector and be able to show a drive and determination to learn and succeed. I believe it is also important to give candidates exposure to multiple job roles and practice areas so they can make an informed decision on their career path as early as possible. To assist with this, we offer all trainees the chance to work in various service lines and offer secondments within the firm, so they can get a feeling for where they see themselves working longer-term before making any final decision on their chosen career path. What advice would you give to anyone looking to secure or advance their career in practice? To build a successful career in practice, candidates need to be technically strong and have a full set of soft skills in addition to technical prowess – skills such as communication skills, leadership capabilities, organisation skills and problem-solving skills for example. In addition to this, they also need to have a broad professional network and a drive and passion to help lead both clients and colleagues to success. Can we help you… If you would like help securing a role within corporate finance or other service areas within practice, then please get in touch. Alternatively, you can check out our latest North East Practice jobs here.