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Feature Article

September 2016 Issue

Four Factors to Consider Before a Job Change

by Charles Volkert, Esq.

The decision to change jobs is not one to make lightly. If you’re mulling over a job offer, it’s important to thoroughly evaluate this opportunity. Compensation is important, but it’s advisable to consider a number of other key factors before you embark on a career transition. Here’s a checklist designed to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Time-related perks.How much additional paid time off would you be granted at the other firm? Are the hours flexible? Will you be able to work from home, or is the potential employer strict about staff being behind their desks at 8:30 a.m. sharp? How does the commute differ? Work-life balance is an important factor in legal careers and job satisfaction. You don’t want to come off as a prima donna, asking these questions, but you do want to be as informed as possible.
  2. Training and professional development opportunities.Thoroughly assess how employees at the other law firm stay current on training for legal professionals. Does the company pay for conferences? Are they willing to reimburse tuition costs? You want to work for an employer that supports continual learning.
  3. Upward mobility.It’s essential to inquire about whether promotions at the other firm are a possibility and the steps one would need to take to be considered.

    Network with other employees at the firm during your interview. Get a feel for the direction the company is headed, and, if possible, insight about its promotion habits.
  4. Workplace culture.In evaluating your potential new employer, ask around about the firm’s workplace culture. Who would you be replacing, and why did the other person leave? Do you hear undertones of office politics? Are you comfortable around the person you’d be reporting to?

If you think you might have a strong shot at a management position or decent bump in pay at your current firm, if your employer is willing to cover the cost of your training and you enjoy working with your supervisor and coworkers, it might be best to stay put. Moving to another firm, on the other hand, might be a step in the right direction for your legal career.

The best legal career advice is to find out all you can about a prospective employer, make an informed decision and move forward.

Charles A. Volkert is executive director of Robert Half Legal®, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of attorneys, paralegals, legal administrators and other legal professionals with law firms and corporate legal departments. The company also offers a full suite of legal staffing and consulting services. Based in Menlo Park, Calif., Robert Half Legal has offices in major North American and global markets.

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Question & Answer


My main career goal is to find a new office manager position with expanded responsibilities and better compensation before the year ends. Although I’m eager to tackle a job search now, I’m wondering if it would be better to wait because I’m afraid employers won’t be thinking about hiring during the summer. What do you think?


Conventional wisdom might suggest that employers will wait until vacations are over to embark on new initiatives, such as adding staff, but that’s not necessarily the case. After all, people are always leaving jobs for one reason or another, irrespective of the time of year, or needs may arise that require firms to add staff now, rather than later.

A recent survey by Robert Half Legal seems to support this thinking. It found that nearly one-third (31 percent) of lawyers interviewed said their law firm or company planned to expand or add new positions in the second half (July through December) of 2016.

So, yes, go ahead and launch your job search. You may actually have an advantage and here’s why:

Lighter competition. Just like you, many job seekers consider putting their efforts on hold in the summer months but if you take a look at job postings, you’ll see that many employers haven’t stopped looking for talent with key skills and practice area expertise. Especially in the legal field, staffing needs are not necessarily seasonal. And if other candidates decide to put their search on hiatus, you may have an edge when it comes to getting noticed.

Budget surpluses. Some employers accelerate their hiring efforts at the beginning of a new quarter because they still have funds earmarked for adding staff. In some organizations, there may even be a “use it or lose it” policy in effect, so hiring managers may have to relinquish any surplus funds if they don’t put it toward bringing in new employees.

Easier access to interviews. The pace of business sometimes slows in summer as a result of vacations and holidays. With a little less urgency in the day-to-day workload, some hiring managers shift their focus to laying the groundwork for the coming quarter, and that includes conducting hiring activities. As a result, hiring managers may be less busy than usual and have more time to review your resume or call you in for an employment interview.

Even if some firms wait until to actually make hiring decisions, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped reviewing resumes and considering candidates. By submitting your application materials now, you’ll be first in line when the hiring process gets in full swing again. Remember that employers are always on the lookout for professionals with in-demand skills. That means there’s really no wrong time to look for your next job, no matter what conventional wisdom says.

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Submit a career-related question to Charles A. Volkert, Esq., executive director of Robert Half Legal, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of attorneys, paralegals, legal administrators and other legal professionals with law firms and corporate legal departments. Charles will answer one question each month!

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