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Happy Hopping

My mother and father are always coming out with comments such as: “You’ve made your bed, now you must lie in it,” or, “you’ll just have to stick it out.” It really gets on my nerves. Why is the first response that you must accept your lot and get on with it rather than looking at what you could do to make things better? I suppose they come from a post war generation where the British stiff upper lip was in full use and everyone did just make do (but grumble about it). And in jobs terms, a job was for life or at least long term, no matter what.

These days things have changed. Younger generations are not prepared to stick it out come what may. They will continually analyse how happy they are and what they can do to make themselves happier. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. We only live once after all (or twice if you are a James Bond fan). This latest trend of individual analysis covers all areas of life from personal relationships to job satisfaction. Employees are constantly analysing the positives and negatives of what they have against what they could have if they moved. This constant analysis has resulted in an increase in ‘job hopping’ in the search for happiness, fulfilment, a better work/life balance or more money.

Does this sea change in attitude and trend in moving jobs more frequently damage a candidate’s future career prospects though?

In the past, law firms have frowned upon job hoppers as they fear the candidate lacks commitment and loyalty. Why take a risk on someone in whom they invest time and expense in training them up and exposing them to their clients, to then find they leave once they have got what they came for leaving only another vacancy to be filled.

However, law firms are now recognising that the younger generation are more likely to have moved, particularly early on in their career when they are finding their feet and are becoming more tolerant about previous moves. It is understandable to wish to move in order to focus on a particular area of law or to make a step up in the size of firm, quality of the work or look for a different culture. Frequent job hopping at a more experienced level can lead to red flags however as law firms will expect more experienced lawyers to have found a career path and be making strides to achieve in that path. That said, even though job hopping becomes less acceptable the greater the experience the lawyer has generally speaking, they may have good reasons for the moves. With a major skills shortage in many areas of specialism such as commercial property and corporate, law firms do not have the luxury of turning away candidates on the basis that they have moved around. Law firms are now more willing to interview such candidates to ascertain why the candidate moved positions and to delve deeper into their motivations and career aspirations.

Therefore, the advice I would give to potential job seekers is this: If you are in the early stages of your career, perhaps coming up to qualification or within the first few years after qualifying, it’s ok to move jobs for a good reason. That could be because you want to specialise in a specific area that your current firm can’t offer you, or if you are looking to make a move to a bigger firm with better quality work. Conversely, you might be at a larger firm, looking for more client exposure, to be more hands with the work or have a better work/life balance. As long you have justifiable reasons for making the moves, it’s unlikely that you’ll put prospective employers off. Later on in your career, it would be sensible to take stock before making a move and be really sure that the new job will offer you what you are looking for as law firms will be less forgiving with frequent moves later on down the line.

For further information about private practice roles in Bristol, please contact Georgina Inson or additionally visit our website BCL Legal.

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