Getting back up to speed with the law; adjusting to a different type of working environment; working alongside colleagues who might be years younger; balancing work and family life; the technology; the long hours.
We’ve worked with several women returning to law after a career break and this pretty much sums up most of their concerns. Underlying all these very practical worries, lies a deeper one:
“Can I actually do this.”
Whether you’ve been out two years or twenty; whether you kept your hand in or took a complete break; a return to law is possible if you follow a plan and draw on support from the right places.
At the Reignite Academy, we’ve helped fifteen women back into City careers in the last nine months. Here’s our guide for you:
- Get your story straight. Your summary at the top of your CV and on LinkedIn. Your elevator pitch. Nail it. Be specific and eye-catching. Whet the appetite of any firm or recruiter looking to hire. Be that person they want. Now is not the time to be humble. If you’re a Cambridge educated, magic circle trained employment lawyer, say so. Even if the last time you practised was a while ago.
- Don’t ignore that bit about LinkedIn. You HAVE to be on it. With a professional photograph. It’s where the jobs are, it’s where recruiters hang out, it’s where people will find you and more importantly it’s where you can connect with the people you used to work with who will be critical in your job search.
- Describe YOUR experience. Forget being a team player. Make sure your CV and LinkedIn profiles talk about what YOU did. Clients, projects, cases, the type of work, your technical skills, how you made an input. Avoid fluffy, abstract cliches about being “committed, hard working, organised, a team player”.
- Have your practising certificate in place. It’s easy. You restore your name to the roll of solicitors and then you apply to renew your practising certificate. It costs £20. Done in a day. Can you believe that? Me neither.
- Start getting back up to date immediately. Follow your old firms and partners on LinkedIn; research your industry; use free resources offered by the Law Society Chambers and LawCareersNet. They might be aimed at students but it’s surprising what you can learn. And checkout eventbrite for relevant events.
- Connect. People are five times more likely to find work through a connection in their network than through a recruiter. So connect. Tell people what you are looking for. Use LinkedIn, your firm’s alumni network and also check out whether there is a “Women in ….” organisation for your area of expertise. This one is for Women in IP, but there are many others like it.
- Be proud of that career break. When it comes to writing your CV, our advice is “tone it down”. Unless you’ve done something super-relevant to an employer, don’t feel obliged to explain how you’ve spent that time. Focus your time and words on the skills and experience relevant to them. At interview, though, the message is different. This break differentiates you. You are returning re-energised, refocused and with new and different perspectives and skills. Now is the time to talk about it.
- Build your home team. This return will be demanding. Demanding of your time, resilience and commitment. You are going to need support from the home team – your family. Partners, children, friends, siblings may all have to play their part. If your children are growing up, being a little bit more independent will be no bad thing; if your partner is used to having your support on tap, explain you need him or her to return the favour, at least in part and at least for a while.
It’s a journey
As they say on all the best reality TV shows. Don’t give up at the first hurdle, make a plan and set yourself some goals. Numbers of connections, people you’ve met for a coffee, networks joined, applications made, interviews secured.
At the Reignite Academy we recognise that getting a job offer is just the first step and we also provide candidates with six months of support in the form of training and coaching. We encourage them to make a 90 day plan to help their transition back to work. Bear in mind the support you’re going to need once you get that job offer.