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Over a week has passed since the official lockdown and we are all settling into our new ways of working, adjusting to the staying at home life and routine. This has seen New Zealand getting to grips with remote working, online video meetings, juggling childcare around our work responsibilities and virtual catchups with family and friends. But what does this mean for lawyers that are job hunting and looking for that next exciting career opportunity? Right now, you may be feeling unsure of what to do next, possibly even a little anxious or you may have just lost out on a potential role due to the pandemic. In order to put your best foot forward make sure to be proactive, there are things you can do right now to plan, prepare and be ready for when the market becomes active again.
Update your CV
Now is the perfect time to update your CV. Once the employment climate warms up again it is likely that law firms are going to be inundated with new applications so make sure that yours will stand out from the crowd. A few tips to get you started on the structure of your CV:
Personal Statement: Start with a short personal statement about your level of experience, areas of expertise and interest area(s). Keep this concise and emphasise any significant attributes that align to the type of role(s) you'll be applying for.
Education: Set out your relevant qualifications, degrees, university and admission dates.
Achievements: Mention any significant achievements within your legal career. If you are a recent graduate or junior lawyer, include any academic achievements or participation at relevant competitions.
Work History - never assume that an employer will already know what your previous and current role entails - bullet point the specific skills and experience gained in each of your roles as there may be something in each role that will pique their interest. If you have a long working history, it is fine to add more detail in your most recent roles and less detail in roles over 5-10 years ago. Use headings, bullet points and formatting appropriately so that the information is easy to read. Highlight a couple of key examples of recent matters that you have worked on (remembering confidentiality where applicable) and state what your involvement has been.
Interests: provide a short snapshot on what you enjoy doing or activities your involved in to show more about who you are as a person.
Aim to keep your CV to a maximum of 4 pages and check your CV for grammar and spelling mistakes - after all, legal jobs require good attention to detail.
Upskill & refresh your knowledge
Take this time to refresh and update yourself on any relevant changes to legislation, policies or procedures in your legal practice area. Have a look at current news articles to understand upcoming reforms and changes to your field and you may find it useful to listen to online webinars, available to you through the law society. These steps will help prepare you for the challenges that a new role may bring and will ensure that you are best equipped for your next career move.
Now is the time you can brush up on your interviewing skills. We, as specialist legal recruiters, can assist you with common interview questions in your practice area and give you any tips on how you can hone your interviewing skills and what you should prepare for.
Research the legal market
With the internet readily available at our fingertips, set some time aside to learn more about the different employers that do work within your area of expertise and interests. Understand the backgrounds of seniors within the individual teams and note what makes each employer unique. Not only will this make for good talking points in any future interviews but it will also help you to understand the market and the firms that could potentially be a good fit for you.
We are continually speaking to our clients within the legal market to understand their hiring requirements and how their practices are evolving. Speak to us, as we can give you honest feedback on your realistic prospects in the legal market and how to crack into positions that are of interest to you but where your background may not be quite on point at this point in your career.
The general rule is that employers will ask to complete at least two references (unless you're a junior) if you progress through to end stages in a recruitment process. Get permission from your referees and give them the heads up now that they may be contacted by a prospective employer going forward. This will save you time down the line.
If you're immediately available for work, being open to a contract as well as permanent role will improve your prospects. Employers may view hiring someone on contract, in a period of uncertainty, as lower risk than on a permanent basis. It might help you get your foot in the door with an employer that will set you on the right career trajectory, keep you working, and there may also be the possibility of a permanent role down the line.
Now more than ever it’s important to stay in touch with those in your personal and professional circle for encouragement. If you are experiencing difficulties with your emotional or mental wellbeing you can find details of professional support on the official COVID-19 website by clicking here.
At Cobalt we are here to assist you to get through this uncertain time in the job market. For CV advice, market knowledge or if you would like to have a chat about your current circumstances you can contact our legal team; Ashleigh Devall - 027 236 0177, and Anand Ranchhod - 027 2746 186.
Job hunting can be full of uncertainty. But with us, you can be sure that we’ll do everything we can to get you to your ideal job. Send your CV to us to get started or search for the latest job vacancies and we’ll get the ball rolling.