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I recently had a conversation with a newly qualified solicitor that prompted me to think about the sacrifices that we may (sometimes should!) make early in our careers to secure our long term aspirations. The question was; do I take a role that offers me immediate financial reward, or do I take the role that facilitates my long term goals better? Here are my thoughts!
• Think big!!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with striving for your ‘dream job’ as long as you are realistic about what it will take to get there. Always be objective about what your CV (be that academic achievement and/or experience) shows and compare that against other prospective candidates at your level. Take steps to rectify areas of weakness.
• Be prepared to make a ‘bridging move’!
You might not go straight into your dream job, being paid the salary you desire. Sometimes you have to make a well thought out sideways move to achieve your ultimate goal. You might make this sideways move to bolster experience in a particular area (i.e. if you’re looking to move in house but secure a role in private practice within a commercial team), increase the profile of firm on your CV, or if you’re an NQ you may secure a role in your desired area but perhaps the salary is lower than you hoped or the firm not as ‘high profile’. Always think about what your CV will look like in 6, 12, and 18 month’s time.
• Surround yourself with the right people!
This is perhaps more key the more junior you are but ensure that early on you prioritise joining a firm with the right structure, training and key personnel. You may be tempted by a bigger salary or more impressive title elsewhere, but if there was any advice that I could give a junior lawyer it would be that the technical training and exposure to good quality work you receive at the early part of your career is critical. The foundations you build at 1 – 4 years PQE will shape your entire career.
• Think Long term & know your priorities
The key to all of this is thinking long term. If you are an NQ think about what you want to qualify into and be really honest with yourself about your priorities. Thankfully what each of us is looking for in a career is unique to us and our individual skill set. What is universal though is that those that know and acknowledge their own priorities early on are likely to become more fulfilled in work more quickly.
As always we’re here to help! At BCL Legal we do try to be honest, transparent and consultative and will happily provide help and advice. I always say to candidates that if you’re in the right place, doing the work you love then the money will follow….sometimes to get there you have to make tough decisions.