Articles From the Team

Newly qualified solicitors – how effectively are you running your job search?

Well, here we are again, it's NQ season! And in Leeds it seems to be going pretty early this year, no doubt precipitated by the shortage of good candidates at the 1-4PQE level across a wide range of disciplines.

And like every year, we see the same issues and problems coming up. We get it. This is the first time you’re looking for a job as a qualified solicitor and this is, for many of you, the first time you may have engaged recruitment consultants.

However, there’s a good way to run your job search and a bad way. The good way will give you the best possible opportunity to find the right job for you within a decent timeframe. The bad way will cause you a lot of grief and leave you feeling quite stressed, and possibly empty-handed.

So here are some top tips, the do’s and don’ts of how to run your NQ job search…..


  • Engage one good recruitment consultancy who knows the market and is on the PSLs for all the firms you are likely to be interested in, 2 at the very most
  • Keep control of your CV and ensure that it is NEVER sent to a firm without your express prior authority – be very clear about this when you engage a consultant
  • Make sure that CV submissions are focussed on specific roles
  • Keep a list and don’t allow duplications
  • Have a solid first choice of practice area and look as widely geographically as you’re able to, if you need to
  • Have a second choice and possibly third choice and start applying for roles in those areas in good time if your first choice is looking tricky
  • Consider external roles alongside any internal roles at your own firm, especially if your firm’s internal process starts later than others
  • Keep updating your CV with more experience if it’s relevant to the area you want to specialise in
  • Prepare prepare prepare for every interview you get – see our interview prep tips here
  • Register with a new agency every time you see someone advertising a role that looks interesting – the overwhelming chances are that your consultancy is instructed on this role, ring them and discuss it
  • Allow an agency to pepper your CV around the market ‘on a speculative basis’ – commercial firms do not recruit NQs on this basis, they release specific NQ roles to their PSL and only at that point accept CVs.
  • Put all your eggs in one basket and assume that you will definitely get that internal role you’ve ‘kind of been promised already’ – it may look like a done deal, and it may well be a done deal, but speaking as someone who was in that position, believe me, things are not guaranteed until you have that offer in your hand
  • Put all your eggs in one basket with one practice area in one location, unless that market is awash with jobs and not awash with candidates
  • Wait too long before you start exploring the external market alongside the internal role/s you’re going for, or you might miss the boat
The NQ season can feel like a kind of circus at times, a bit of a juggle and a bit of a gamble, but play it right with some solid advice from an experienced professional recruiter, and it can be a bit of a breeze. For a no-obligation chat about your options in Leeds and surrounding areas, you can call me on 0113 323 6146. Or email


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