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.
Employee Appreciation Day is a chance for companies to thank their employees for their hard work throughout the year. The purpose of the day is to help strengthen the bond between employer and employee. In recognition of Employee Appreciation Day, we wanted to highlight how amazing our employees are and how we show recognition for them all year round — not just on Employee Appreciation Day. Here are five ways we show our employees how much we appreciate them and the work they do. 1. Internal events Hosting internal events has many benefits for businesses – it increases morale, allows everybody to get together, motivates employees which in turn increases productivity. Sellick Partnership host three large company-wide events throughout the year for all employees to come together and celebrate success and recognise achievements. End of Financial Year Awards To celebrate the end of each financial year, we hold a three-course awards lunch where we present the results of our previous financial year and hear from key stakeholders within the business who update everyone on divisional growth and strategies for the upcoming year. We also awards employees with trophies which recognises the achievement of individuals and teams across the business over the past 12 months. This is a great way for us to show how much we appreciate our employees and the work they do. Teambuilding One of the most exciting events at Sellick Partnership is our annual Teambuilding weekend — the whole business takes part, meeting in a secret location, announced a couple of days before the event and teams are faced with a variety of activities. Christmas Party Our Christmas party is without a doubt the social highlight of the year. Held at some of Manchester’s most modern venues, it’s the perfect opportunity for everyone across the offices to let their hair down and celebrate the success of the year with entertainment, DJs, excellent food and good company. Each year at the Christmas Party we also celebrate anniversary milestones, and so if any employee has been with the business 5, 10 or 15 years then we present them with a gift and card at the Christmas party. As we were unable to hold our Christmas party event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to send out hampers to each of our employees from Harvey Nichols instead, as we still wanted to reward our employees for all their hard work throughout the year. 2. Wellbeing strategy At the start of the national lockdown, we decided to review our wellbeing strategy so we could support our employees during this stressful time. Our Talent & Wellbeing Manager, Simon Briffa, Senior Marketing Executive, Melissa Finch and Manager Helen Dodds all attended a 4 day online mental health awareness course with Mental Health First Aid England, to help them develop a wellbeing strategy to support employees. We ran an internal campaign for Stress Awareness Month called Wellbeing Wednesdays which consisted of a number of activities remotely to encourage people to look after their wellbeing whilst working from home. One of these included a virtual meditation session from a professional mind coach, which was really well received. We have continued this campaign and now run a Wellness Wednesday initiative once a month to encourage and remind employees of the importance of looking after their mental health. Some other campaigns and events we have recently celebrated include: Blue Monday Blue Monday is dubbed as the most depressing day of the year, so to keep morale high we decided to send each of our employees some brownies. The feedback was really positive and everyone commented on how it lifted their spirits and moods during a tough lockdown. Time to Talk day Time 2 Talk day, is a day in February created by mental health charity Time to Change. It is all about encouraging everyone to check in on colleagues, family and friends and tackle the silence and stigma around mental health. Now more than ever, it is important to check in with people and have a conversation. Many people are living alone, and do not always get the opportunity to speak to people on a regular basis, particularly whilst we are in lockdown. So, we promoted this to our employees and asked them to take some time, pick up the phone and call someone to see how they are, even if it is just for a brew and a quick chat. 3. Wheel of Success Another way we show our appreciation for our employees’ hard work is by rewarding the smaller wins, all year round. In 2019, we introduced the ‘Wheel of Success’ to celebrate all the things that people achieve throughout the year. If someone hits a milestone or goes above and beyond their role they get a spin of the wheel and their reward is determined by what the wheel lands on. This has proven to be a huge hit across all of our offices and the idea is to reward little every day successes of all employees. It is fun and gets everyone involved. As we cannot use our physical wheel at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have created a virtual wheel, so we can still show our appreciation to our employees and reward them for all their hard work! 4. Birthday celebrations Due to us not being able to celebrate special events in the office, we still want to try to do everything we normally would. We are therefore sending birthday cards and chocolates to each employee’s house to show our appreciation and celebrating each of them individually throughout the year. 5. Celebrating hard work through hard times We have a range of initiatives in place to reward the extra effort and hard work of individuals and teams across the business. We wanted to continue this throughout lockdown and so we decided to reward every employee with a £20 Just Eat gift voucher. We have done this twice throughout the year in order to show our employees how much we appreciate them and all their hard work. If you would like to find out more about what we offer our employees and how a career with Sellick Partnership might benefit you, please contact our Internal Talent & Wellbeing Manager Simon Briffa. You can also find out more about what it is like to work for us or view our current internal vacancies.
Employee wellness is something that Sellick Partnership has been working on for some time and is very important to us as a business. We want to create an environment where people enjoy coming to work and have all the support they need to do well. Find out what Sellick Partnership’s Internal Talent and Wellness Manager Simon Briffa thinks about employee wellness, and some of the things we have introduced over the years. Understanding employee wellness Before you can implement an employee wellness programme, first, organisations need to understand what employee wellness actually means. By definition, employee wellness initiatives are a form of health benefit that employers provide – in one form or another. Basically, employee wellness plans are designed to help keep employees healthy, happy and motivated in work. Without them businesses can lose out on talent, something that we cannot afford to do. That is why employee wellness should be something that every business should be considering, especially now as workplace pressures rise. It is no longer enough to simply offer a great salary and good benefits. Companies need to show that they care for the welfare of their employees and implement strategies to support them both professionally and personally. Here are some of the things we have successfully introduced at Sellick Partnership. Flexible working Flexible working is one of the first things businesses should consider when trying to implement an employee wellness programme. Expecting employees to work a 9am-5pm working day, five days a week, with very little breaks and respite is becoming a very archaic view. Nowadays, most candidates are looking for a role that offers some degree of flexibility. For example, we allow our employees to take a more tailored approach to their working day depending on their home commitments. One way we do this is by allowing employees to adapt their working hours to suit needs at home when needed – giving our staff greater control, whilst creating a sense of mutual trust. We also have a number of staff that work four days a week to assist with commitments at home. It is important however to ensure that any flexible working policies you introduce fit around business needs. For example, offering the option to work from home may not be advisable if your business relies on staff working collaboratively or as part of a larger team. Social events Everyone likes to relax, unwind and take the opportunity to socialise away from the office, which is why we organise a variety of social events throughout the year, including three big companywide events where we bring the whole business together. These are a great way of giving our employees some time to let their hair down (usually on company time) and allows us to show our appreciation for all the hard work they do. We also hold several team socials throughout the year, ranging from bake sales to other celebratory events and teambuilding activities. Events like this don’t have to break the bank either. Think about what sort of things you can do on your budget or speak to your staff and find out what activities they would like to do. Healthcare benefits and added support It is important to do all you can to ensure your employees have a healthy mind and body, especially if you are asking them to work long hours in a particularly stressful role. To help with this we have enrolled each of our people in Medicash. Medicash is a healthcare provider which operates as a not-for-profit company offering corporate healthcare and benefits. The plan lets employees claim money back on everyday healthcare costs including optical, dental, physiotherapy, hypnotherapy and chiropody. Something like this is a great way to give your staff access to additional support, and access to services they may not have considered otherwise. Encourage people to get away from their desks We also try to encourage our people to move away from their desks throughout the day where possible. To try and ensure this happens we have a number of breakout areas that we keep unoccupied during lunch times for employees to take some time away. It is important to ensure there is a space where employees can relax without the worries of work. We have also recently introduced walking meetings to encourage more people to get outside when not at their desks which is another great way of getting people moving whilst keeping productivity high. Wellness challenges Wellness challenges are also a great way of getting the whole business involved in something that is good for their health. We have previously hosted pedometer challenges and various charitable outdoor activities to try and get our people active. Not only do these spark people’s competitive nature, but they are also great at building team morale and giving people the push needed to do something that is good for their health and wellbeing. If you would like to find out more about the wellness initiatives at Sellick Partnership, you can check out the Work for Us section of our website.
The events of 2020 have undoubtedly challenged pre-existing concepts about the way we work, and prompted many businesses to reflect on their remote working policy. According to a recent survey from the British Council for Offices (BCO), most office workers don’t want to return to the office five days a week when the pandemic is over; with the majority planning on splitting their time between the workplace and home. This hybrid working model, with a mixture of in office and remote working is expected to become the norm for many businesses. With this in mind, we have outlined some of the technical challenges associated with hybrid working and some tools that could help bridge the work-home gap. Technology and ‘mixed reality’ As many of us found when we started working remotely last year, there is already a wealth of relatively simple tools designed available to help with the process. Almost overnight, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet became an essential part of the ‘new normal’ but as employers begin to look ahead there is going to be an inevitable shift towards newer technology and collaboration tools that promise an element of ‘mixed reality’ - where staff are able to interact in the same way whether together in the office or at home - to increase productivity, engagement and maintain relationships. How businesses can make the shift to this new software, without causing too much disruption and upsetting the careful working balance that has developed since March, is something that is going to become increasingly important as we move forward. Security We know that this shift to hybrid working presents a number of challenges for those in digital and IT roles, not only will they have to adopt a new approach to working but have found themselves having to manage an increased workload. In addition to their normal responsibilities, they need to consider a range of additional security factors, including staff using personal devices, increased data breaches and phishing attacks. It is inevitable that businesses will look to implement new technologies to help manage these risks in a hybrid work environment. But this shift can bring with it its own set of security challenges and it is vital that businesses identify potential risks before introducing new technology. As Mike Stentonas, Chief Technology Officer at cyber security company CrowdStrike, told the FT, he has seen businesses try and roll out systems and platforms over the course of a weekend that should take six months to plan, research and test - risking the cyber security architecture. Accessing and storing information How information is accessed and stored is a technical challenge for businesses looking to implement a hybrid working model. With staff working from home and some using personal devices, it is difficult to ensure that the same level of security and privacy is maintained. Research carried out by security firm Tessian found that since the start of the pandemic it has become increasingly common to see company information and files sent and shared between personal email accounts. In the same survey, the IT professionals asked said they were worried about remote employees not understanding the risks of connecting to unprotected networks - with 58% of employees admitted to considering or already having connected to public wi-fi. It is clear that additional training is required to make sure that employees understand the risks associated with remote working and the importance of ensuring information is being stored and shared in the most secure ways possible. Ultimately, the hybrid model is going to mark a shift away from traditional office-based working and therefore some challenges are to be expected. Over time, businesses will be able to educate their employees about the potential security risks of hybrid working and digital and IT professionals will become better equipped to manage technical challenges. The increased flexibility afforded by hybrid working provides a fantastic opportunity to reconsider previous recruitment practices and consider recruiting talent from further afield.
This Valentine’s day why not make a commitment to fall back in love with your work and dedicate some attention to your career. There are days in all our careers when we don't leap out of bed filled with joy about the forthcoming day at work. In fact, sometimes the idea of the coming week can mean that Sunday evening makes you anxious about what the next five days may hold. If you want to get more out of your career, it might be time to take stock and consider what the problem is in your relationship with work. After all, the only thing you will spend more time doing in your life is sleeping, and we all know how much we love that! Here are the top reasons most people fall out of love with work, and what you need to do to build a better relationship with your career. Are you bored? This is one of the most common reasons that people feel unsatisfied at work, and often it can creep up on you. Perhaps you have been in the business for a long time without any major changes to your remit or day-to-day activities. This is the perfect time to decide what you really want from your career. Why not think about your long-term goals and establish what skills gaps you might have in your experience that are hindering your chance to progress. For example, do you need to work on your communication skills or develop project management techniques? Or perhaps you need to take a more commercial approach? Either way, identify key areas you would like to develop, research internal and external training opportunities and book a meeting with your boss. A manager is never unhappy to hear that a member of staff wants to take on more responsibility and learn more. Are you struggling with your workload? Too much work can be highly stressful and can make you feel like it will never end. But rest assured you are not alone, and it can be managed. The key is to start prioritising and ask for help. Make a complete list of all the projects you are currently working on and a list of all deliverables in each project, including any deadlines involved. Then book a meeting with your line manager and ask to go through your current workload and to seek advice on prioritising. It is important to be clear, confident and professional whilst discussing this. State that you are concerned about ensuring quality and that your key focus is to ensure that whilst 'balls aren't dropped' the reputation of the team is not damaged. Talk about opportunities for delegation or collaboration with your team and make sure to book in follow up meetings and keep your manager appraised of any issues – but make sure it is before any deadlines are missed! Do you love your job, but are struggling with the commute? Is your job perfect, but the location not so good? If you have reached a point where a good book isn't enough to make the journey worthwhile, why not think about how you might be able to start working differently. The options are plentiful, and businesses are more open than ever to flexible working arrangements that will fit around your home life. Legally all employees can now request to work flexibly, and this could include: Working from home one or two days a week Reducing your hours – if it is financially viable Compressed working – working more hours for four days so you could take each Friday off Working from another location – perhaps there is another office or affiliate business where you could look at being based in. There is no harm in speaking frankly to your employer about this problem, they would rather look at new ways of working than lose a great member of staff which will cost far more in the long term. Have you fallen out of love with a colleague? Challenging relationships can be tough at the best of times, but this is particularly true at work. When you have reached a point where you or work is impacted then realistically there are two options. You can confront it head on or ignore it, and things that are left will never get sorted. Ask your colleague for a virtual coffee and diplomatically talk through your concerns. Never make accusations or refer to specific incidents, tactfully talk about how you have been feeling and suggest ways that this could be improved. That might be to have more regular meetings to ensure communication channels are open, or perhaps it is ensuring there is a process to make sure that work is not duplicated, and you can work well together. If you have tried this and can't seem to find a solution, then the second option is to speak to your manager. Be honest and keep it professional – you want your manager's support, not to get their back up. It might be that you could look at moving to another project, or working from a different desk, or perhaps your manager has seen similar issues with other staff and can advise ways for you to manage this difficult situation in the future. When all else fails… Perhaps you have reached a point where you are not able to find a solution or achieve any more in your current role, and you have exhausted all possibilities. In which case, it might be time for you to think about moving on. Some people change jobs immediately when they are unable to see a future there, whereas others dislike change. If you are the latter then there can be lots of reasons for you to stay, particularly security or relationships with colleagues, but if you aren't waking up with glee every morning, it might be time to admit that it's over. Remember, if this is what you are thinking it is not you, it's your job! With love in the air, now is the time to take that next step, if you're ready to make a move, check out the latest opportunities from Sellick Partnership here.