While the weather is still hotter than ever, summer is over, students are back to school, and fall decor is on the shelves in stores. It’s hard to ignore that the holidays will be here before we know it. With less than 90 days until Thanksgiving, it’s time to start examining your career strategy for the rest of the calendar year and beyond.
Chart Your Strategy
First, take inventory. Are you feeling fulfilled in your daily work? Are you happy where you are in your current role and growth trajectory? Have you reached the ceiling in your corporate legal department or firm? If you’re thinking about making a career move in the fall season, you’ll want to consider next steps and the reasons for desiring a change.
A recent report from McKinsey revealed that 40% of people are unhappy at work, with 41% of workers quitting due to lack of career advancement and development, 36% due to inadequate compensation, 34% due to uncaring and inspiring leaders, 29% due to unsustainable work expectations, and 26% due to lack of workplace flexibility. All these factors may resonate with you, so it’s important to make a list as to what you feel most dissatisfied about in your current role, and what you would rank as the first, second, and third reasons for wanting to pursue something different.
Next, write down the type and size of legal department you see yourself in. Do you want to zero in on a niche or be more of a corporate generalist? Would you prefer to expand into a hot area, such as cybersecurity or data privacy? Do you prefer to be on the senior leadership team or a step below? Do you want hybrid, remote, or in-office work?
Once you begin answering these questions, you can then explore ways to market yourself. The key is to know where you see yourself in your next role before you begin updating your resume and LinkedIn profile and firing them off to a firm or company. If you don’t know the answer to those questions, it’s perfectly OK, but you’ll want to do self-exploration with a leadership or executive coach to help you identify and crystalize your direction and target.
Create A Vision For Yourself
Job searching is an arduous process. It’s a roller coaster of emotions and requires a significant time investment, whether you’re aggressively or passively searching. Even if you have your legal resume professionally written, it’s not a magic bullet, and a job is not going to fall out of the sky for you. Effort is still required on your part to perform outreach, seek informational interviews, and network for that role.
Create a vision for yourself on how you’ll organize your job search — this includes creating an Excel spreadsheet of law firms and companies you’re targeting, who you will be making outreach to (i.e., contact in the legal department or practice group), and how the follow-up went. It also means calendaring time to make the outreach as well as considering where you see yourself three, six, and 12 months into the new role, along with several years down the road.
Many factors go into deciding on a new role. In this type of competitive market, you want to be prepared and ask all the necessary questions. Legal jobs are no longer a one- or two-round interview process. Today, there are multiple rounds of interviews, and the process can take months. If you find yourself in the middle of a layoff, consider a bridge job in a contract legal role. It can give you better insight into the workings of another legal department, a different company culture, and even new areas of practice to expand into.
Update Your Career Documents With A Purpose
Before I ever sit down to write a client’s resume or LinkedIn profile, I make sure they know the targeted role they’re going after. If you’re unsure of where you see yourself, working with a career or leadership coach to get there is a big consideration. The reason for this? You want the resume and LinkedIn profile to be as narrowly tailored and precise as possible. Keywords and search optimization matters. Don’t update your resume or LinkedIn profile until you’re clear on the direction for yourself.
Consider reaching out to mentors and other lawyers who are in niches you’re interested in. For example, if you’re interested in switching into a data privacy role at a fintech start-up, consider reaching out to other corporate counsels who are data privacy lawyers at fintech start-ups to get an idea of their day-to-day work and typical issues they solve for their legal departments. Consider taking a few CLEs on data privacy to ramp up your knowledge and seeking out informative webinars through the Association of Corporate Counsel.
These are just some strategies to get you started. Have a question regarding actionable steps you’re working on? Feel free to connect on LinkedIn and join the conversation.
Wendi Weiner is an attorney, career expert, and founder of The Writing Guru, an award-winning executive resume writing services company. Wendi creates powerful career and personal brands for attorneys, executives, and C-suite/Board leaders for their job search and digital footprint. She also writes for major publications about alternative careers for lawyers, personal branding, LinkedIn storytelling, career strategy, and the job search process. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, connect with her on LinkedIn, and follow her on Twitter @thewritingguru.