How to get noticed for a job well done
The legal sector is a competitive one. Having grown by 8% over the last 12 months, the sector is now worth an estimated £26bn a year and employs over 370,000 people – two-thirds of which work in solicitors’ firms. And despite cuts to legal aid the number of new entrants starting their legal career is also rising.
All of which is good news for the profession. But as employer confidence continues to remain strong and organisational hiring activity shows little sign of slowing down any time soon, how can you stave off the competition when the next promotional opportunity comes around?
Getting the recognition you deserve for a job well done is the same for a paralegal or legal executive as much as it is for a project manager or solicitor. Here are five things you need to consider.
1 Be very, very good at something else
You may be great at your job, but if all you are doing is what your job description says you should be doing – even if it is at a better standard than your colleagues – you simply won’t get noticed. Pick a task that very few of your colleagues have ever managed to master and make it your goal to be the best at it, so that the next time someone has a question relating to that particular action, your colleagues will respond by saying, Speak to ‘YOU”, they know everything there is to know about that.
2 Help out your boss
The higher up the career ladder you climb, the greater the responsibility you have and the longer your to-do list. Your boss has the same amount of hours in the day as you, but the very nature of management sees a shifting of priorities on an almost daily basis. Lend a helping hand – think about some of the tasks that your boss has on their to-do list that never seem to get done, is there something that you can help them with?
3 Think ahead
If you know what role you have your sights set on, look at what will be expected of you and take steps now to acquire some of the new skills that you will need to use. Ask a colleague already performing that role for their advice and see if you can shadow them on occasion – you will be surprised how willing they will be to help you; after all, we all love to talk about ourselves and what we do!
This has three key benefits for you: it arms you with the skills you need which will give you a running start in your next role; your colleague will be able to vouch for your suitability for the role, which in turn reflects positively on them, and; your boss can see that you have taken the initiative to develop and position yourself as the ideal candidate of choice.
4 Build rapport
Network, network, network. Take time to walk around the office and meet colleagues in other departments to get yourself seen and known throughout the company. Attend local networking events that put you in touch with professionals from both inside and outside the legal sector.
Networking at events will not only bolster your contacts book, it is also an opportunity to generate new business that will boost the organisation’s bottom line, which of course will make your boss (and FD!) very happy. The more people you know and have a good working relationship with, the more contacts you have and the more privy you become to new opportunities within the organisation.
5 Don’t think that your best friend won’t be applying for the same job
We have seen this many times – a couple of friends graduate together, do their training together and spend the first few years working together at the same law firm only for one friend to ‘assume’ the other would step aside and let them apply for the new promotion that has just come up. Only said friend had other ideas.
And why should they – this new job pays 10-20% more than either of them are currently getting paid not to mention it being a huge step forward in their career. So keep your eyes open and your wits about you. Think only about your career ambitions, and let your friend do the same – the better candidate will always be the one who gets ahead. Is that you?
The stand out candidates are those who recognise the gaps that aren’t being serviced and become masters of them and they go above and beyond what is expected of them. They are commercially focused and recognise the contribution they can make to the organisation. And they are very aware of the demands placed on others (i.e. senior management) – willing to help out when they can.
Of course, there many be times when you don’t get the recognition you deserve or you feel that you may be waiting some time before that illusive promotions comes along. In which case, you may have to consider your options and look elsewhere.
Whatever your situation, we can help advise you on your next career move – after all, we’re former solicitors ourselves and we have appointed people just like you. So we understand the career challenges you face.
*The Law Society, March 2016