Keeping an Eye Out for the Right Lateral Opportunity
How’s the job search going?
Responses to how a job search depend on where a searcher is looking, how the searcher is looking, and who the searcher is working with.Ever wondered why it seems like every other attorney that even contemplated making a career change seems to land a “dream job” (are these dream jobs just lining up and chasing after them?)— but when it’s your turn, no matter how many posts you comb through online, it appears that none of those dream jobs are left?That tends to be the case for lawyers who limit their searches to posted and announced openings.If you are looking for a change of scenery so that you can love your job as a lawyer, you have to understand that the jobs you want at the best firms are not posted. It is a confluence of the employer realizing that there is a need, and knowing candidates that can address that need—before other tasks and needs take their attention away. Simply waiting for the right post won’t cut it. You need to know about the openings that are not posted about, and to connect with attorneys and recruiters who can help you land the perfect role. That’s the value of working with a legal recruiter—it’s literally our job to discover and curate dream jobs, and then connect with candidates who are interested in filling them.
Of course, it does not hurt to take a few steps on your own:
Create a target employer list.
Break this down by market, practice setting, practice team, and industry (for example—Atlanta, Big Law, Labor & Employment, Retail). While it is tempting to just keep your eyes out for anything and everything, you’ll find that doing so is the equivalent of mining for all “everything” as opposed to mining for something specific, like gold or copper. You’re not just looking for a job, any job—you want the job.
Network: meet and talk to people.
This means keeping up with your existing relationships and building new ones. Friends. Existing clients. Colleagues. Former classmates. Anyone—within reason, of course. As you build your network, you will also build your knowledge base and the number of individuals that can educate you about different trends, the culture and needs of their firms, and the nuances of your desired target. The depth and quality of your network creates a wealthy pool of resources, information, and referrals.
If you’re looking for something, let it be known.
No need to be rude or desperate about it—but let it be known that you are looking for certain opportunities.If you’ve worked hard to truly set yourself apart and know that you are ready to hit the ground running, you need to activate your network to learn about the opportunities that may be lurking around in corners you didn’t even think about checking. Firms love lawyers with initiative and drive—so long as you are not demanding or expecting to be hired on the spot, most teams take it as a high compliment that you want to work for them.
Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. You don’t want to be in a position where the dream opportunity presents itself, only for you to be utterly unprepared to seize it. When you have the opportunity to show your value (during the interview and hiring process, or afterwards when you are starting the new job), you want to demonstrate that you can provide some return on your new employer’s investment.As you set targets and grow your network, identify how you can contribute right off the bat, and you’ll find that you will be a dream lawyer that opportunities will be pursuing.