7 tips for finding work in an employer driven market

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The Jobs Market Is Shifting

As anyone involved will tell you, the legal recruitment market has been crazy for the last couple of years. It’s been what people in the profession call a “Candidate Driven Market”. Law firms were fighting to attract talent, candidates were faced with numerous offers – including inducements to stay where they were – and salaries seemed to be on an inexorable upward trend.

Candidates, essentially, called the shots. They had the pick of jobs and could negotiate their own terms.


We all know what happens to bubbles. It started with the war in Ukraine, which led to a slow down in equity capital markets. This was followed by a worrying rise in inflation, rising interest rates and concerns about economic growth across the board. You could almost hear the brakes being applied to recruitment activity.

The market is changing and our sense is that we are moving to a recruitment market where employers are back in the driving seat. So how do you position yourself to find work in this environment?

7 Steps

Be crystal clear on what you’re selling

Whether it’s the ten years you spent working in the pharma sector, your qualification as a commercial lawyer or your secondment to a FTSE 10 company, think about what it is about you that the employer is going to buy. This is a market. Think of yourself as a commodity. Now is not the time to begin with “I’m looking for a part time role, I need to be home by 3 on a Thursday ….”

Remember, too, you are more than your professional experience. You have a network, you have management skills, judgement, a willingness to learn, proof that you can overcome hurdles … think about (and sell) all the competencies you’ve developed outside of work as well as in it.

Prepare to be Flexible

Flexibility cuts both ways. Most firms are now moving to a hybrid model with most teams requiring people to be in the office together two or three days a week. Work out when you need to work remotely and when you can be in an office. Have a clear, detailed and open conversation about what working patterns you can commit to.

Go to the Bottom of the Job Hunting Pyramid

The first thing people often do when they want a job is to scan the job ads. The last thing an employer will do when they need to fill a role is place a job ad. Why? Because they’ll have more success finding the right fit if they take someone through a personal referral. And it’s cheaper. This means you have to use your network – your connections, people you know – to help make introductions and open doors.

Be the shoe that fits

An employer with a vacancy is someone with a problem. Figure out what that problem is and get ready to describe how and why you are the answer. Do your research, read the job ad, research the team, the partners, their clients. What do you have in your background and experience set that shows you are the answer. Once you’re seen as the answer to the problem, it’s easier then to go on and talk about how you will go about the job – working patterns, salary and the like.

(If you’re still scratching your head about the shoe analogy, think about the last time you went to buy some shoes for an outfit and had a budget in mind …. you tried on a pair that were perfect, turned them over, saw the price …. and bought them anyway).

Use recruiters judiciously and wisely

Bear in mind that recruiters are paid by the client, with a % based on your first year’s salary. On the one hand, that’s great because they’re incentivised to secure you a job but there are downsides too. Negotiating a part time role means their fee will be pro-rata’d; trying to help you pivot into a role that’s not so obvious is risky, time consuming and potentially not as lucrative as putting a round peg into a round hole.

Choose with care. And be aware that once your CV has been submitted to a client, no other recruiter will be able to represent you with that client for at least six months, sometimes twelve.

Be creative about what “work” looks like

If you’re not sure you’re ready for a permanent role and yet don’t feel ready to go it alone either, there are plenty of platforms around that will help you secure contract roles. Many law firms have their own platforms but there are other options too: Obelisk, Axiom, Keystone Law, Lawyers On Demand and many more,

Choose your next move strategically

You might not be able to find the perfect role immediately but if you follow these steps you will uncover some options. Your next step doesn’t have to be perfect but it does need to put you on the right path. Think about where you want to be in 3 to 5 years. Is this a good stepping stone?

Don’t panic into just taking anything that’s offered. When the market moves again (and it will) this role needs to be additive to your CV. Taking something that’s too far below your skill set, at the wrong pay grade, in a totally different field, may not help you in the long run.

Be brave! Believe in yourself.

At the Reignite Academy, we put candidates first. We have opportunities with clients who value the experience that “career break” lawyers bring. Check out our open vacancies or feel free to send a speculative application or get in touch for a chat.

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Reignite Academy Summer Roadshow

We are excited to announce that the Reignite Academy will be on the road in May, offering you the chance to join us in person to explore ways to relaunch or pivot your legal career.

The Reignite Academy team will be joined by other women who have successfully returned to law after a career hiatus. They will share their stories, experience and advice.

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