I’ve recently celebrated a return to the world of legal recruitment after a gap of 5 years doing something completely different -running a social enterprise company that addresses issues around food poverty, cooking skills and food access issues, since you ask (oh, you didn’t!) so it really couldn’t have been more different.
I’d been in recruitment for over 10 years when my daughter was born. I was at Integral at the time, doing well, managing the Manchester office. Integral closed its doors while I was on maternity leave though and everyone was made redundant. After I got over the shock, I thought – great! no restrictive covenants, I’ll just set up by myself, I would never have got away with only going back 3 days a week anyway… So that’s what I did, and whilst I loved the flexibility, and enjoyed being my own boss, and made some great placements, I also found it isolating and de-motivating and it ultimately put me off recruitment for a while. I missed the buzz of the office and the structure, and, hate to say it, but the targets. Nothing focuses your mind quite like a looming target!!
When I came back, I wanted it to be somewhere worth the return, somewhere with great people, a structured approach and with a vision coupled with an in-depth understanding of how to get there. I think I made the right choice.
But what’s changed since I’ve been away? Well, to start with, the market’s on a different part of its ever-changing curve. I worked through the global crash when I ran my own consultancy and it was insurance litigation jobs that kept recruiters going back then, but the economy’s changed, as it always does, and non-contentious commercial work like IP, IT, corporate, real estate, banking and general commercial is in demand again now, together with a corresponding dearth of good applicants for these roles. That’s the way it goes when we come out of a crash where trainee solicitors weren’t retained in these areas and qualified non-contentious solicitors were leaving the profession in their droves. The law is a very pigeon-holing profession and it’s not so easy to switch disciplines when the bottom drops out of yours.
But the other main change is communications & technology. It’s easy to forget, but even 5 to 10 years ago, it was a different landscape. Hard to believe, but I had candidates back then who weren’t even particularly comfortable with texting, whereas now, we’ve got software to send a hundred texts in one click, everyone’s on Twitter, everyone’s on LinkedIn, we even get the odd Facebook request (emphasis on the odd!). There’s a conversation going on and if you’re not part of it, you’re out of the loop. It affects the general pace of things, it’s all a bit faster and you have to keep up. I like it. It’s good to be back!