Returning to Work? A 7 Point Plan to Relaunch your Career

When Hannah first approached us she knew she wanted to return to law but was equally clear that going back to being a real estate lawyer wasn’t for her.  Kristin wasn’t at all sure a return was possible, having been told by recruiters she was wasting her time.  Michelle’s priority was finding a role that wouldn’t demand the crazy hours she used to work as an M&A Tax lawyer.

For many people hoping to relaunch their legal careers, the challenge can be overwhelming.

As Desmond Tutu once said:

“There is only one way to eat an elephant; one bite at a time.”

The other problem is that sometimes, women who have been out of the workforce for a number of years, can experience a lack of confidence as they think about going back.  Have I left it too long? Has the technology moved on?  Can I cope?

We know from experience that a sense of making progress is a great way to build confidence, so with that in mind here is our seven step checklist as you begin to relaunch your career.  Some steps are easy, others take longer.  They will all ensure you set off on the right direction.

  1. Create your own email address.  I confess, before I went back to work my email address was a combination of mine and my husband’s name. Not a good look.
  2. Read She’s Back: Your Guide to Returning to Work.  The hard copy is  £9.99, the kindle version is 99p and the Audiobook is free. It does what it says on the tin.  The first couple of chapters explain that you’re not on your own and the rest of the book plots a path to help you find the role you want.  There are practical exercises and lots of case studies for inspiration.
  3. Practise using Teams and Zoom.  Many first interviews and meetings are still being set up on one of these platforms.  Create your own account, otherwise you could find that your face is on the screen but your son’s name is written below it (if, for example, he’s been using Teams for schoolwork). Not ideal.
  4.  Create or update your LinkedIn profile.  Use a professional photo, give yourself a meaningful title (“Experienced Commercial Litigator” is better than “Lawyer”, for example) and start to reconnect with old colleagues.  This piece has more tips about how you can use LinkedIn to support your job search
  5.  Write your “base note CV”.  If you don’t know where to start, check out My Perfect CV.  It’s a fabulous free resource; we like the “Traditional” and “Knowledgeable” templates.  Don’t include a photo and don’t use a fancy format with boxes and tables – the recruitment portals don’t like them.  Note the use of the term “base note CV”:  that’s because you’ll need to tailor this when you apply for specific jobs.
  6. Work out what you’re selling.  The recruitment market is just that: a market.  What are you selling?  Write it down.  It’s a combination of your years’ of professional experience, the knowledge you’ve gained, clients you’re worked for, sectors you understand.  Include anything relevant from your time away from law.  Think about intangible assets such as your network.  What are your top 3 – 5 strengths. If you don’t know, phone a friend (seriously, call some of the people you used to work with).
  7. Formulate your ideal role(s).   What would you consider?  Fee earning or non-fee earning?  Private practice or in house? How important is flexibility?  How important is future career progression, learning and development.  Think about where you want to be in three to five years time. Your next job should be one that moves you in that direction.

Going back to our examples, Hannah realised that her extensive knowledge of law firms and their clients could open new doors for her legal career.  She is now Head of Risk & Compliance at Stevens & Bolton.  Kristin soon learnt that all those years’ experience as a tax lawyer were very much in demand and she was quickly snapped up by CMS, where she remains a valuable member of the Tax practice.  And Michelle was able to take her M&A tax expertise and pivot into a new, more flexible role as a senior associate at Travers Smith.

We can help at any stage of the process.  Once you’re ready, just get in touch. 

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