It is no secret, that we are facing a talent shortage in New Zealand at present. Having recruited in the Legal sector for nearly seven years, it has always been a candidate led market, but now even more so. Driven by people moving overseas, leaving the legal sector, moving in house and growth in the sector there are more jobs than we have previously seen, and there are simply not enough candidates in New Zealand to fill the gaps.
But what does this mean for you as a candidate?
Well, if you are an ambitious lawyer, there has never been a better time to explore the market, here’s why.
Accelerated Career Progression
Speaking with candidates across Auckland, juniors are now getting access to work traditionally reserved for more Senior lawyers. With a shortage of talent particularly at the Intermediate to Senior level, this means junior lawyers are getting more hands-on work, client contact and access to bigger and better work than ever before. We are also seeing more jobs available for Junior lawyers. Some firms are also offering Senior and Senior Associate titles far earlier than we have previously seen and based on merit rather than years of PQE.
We are also seeing more opportunities pop up than ever before, some previously unseen and with the shortage of talent some firms are flexing slightly in terms of their requirements. Traditionally firms would only seek to recruit lawyers with three years or more post qualified experience, however in the last year we have seen an increase in opportunities for good candidates with one or two years practicing legal experience. We are also seeing firms look outside of traditional private practice experience and a slight easing in terms of the focus on academic transcripts.
What does this mean for you? It means you have options and some great ones too.
Changing Practice Area
Traditionally it has been very difficult to change practice area as firms only seek people who have existing experience. In this market, I have helped a few candidates achieve their goal of switching to a different practice area as firms are now willing to develop good candidates.
There are too many vacancies to advertise, so connecting with a recruiter you trust will give you access to all the opportunities available to you. In this market, firms will also sometimes make a space for good candidates even if there isn’t a live vacancy.
Increased Salary and Flexible Working
It is no surprise, that salaries have increased in line with the demand in the market. And firms are more open to flexible working and different arrangements that suit the candidate. It is a chance to sculpt the role that works for you in terms of your work and home life.
Change In Interview Style
It used to be as a candidate you would interview for a role and needed to convince the employer you were the right fit for them, and whilst this is still important, it is much more of a two-way street. Candidates have options and therefore firms are needing to sell themselves and the opportunity. Interviews have become more conversational and balanced as you both assess the fit and whether it is a match.
Testing the fit
With so many options available, how can you know if a firm is the right fit for you? Make sure you are clear on your goals and what the next move means to you, sure an increase in salary is great but if that is the only driver for a move, you are likely to get counter offered to stay anyway. If it is the culture or greater flexibility you are looking for, be sure to test this in the interview and if you are looking to progress, it is not unusual to have a coffee with someone from the team or at least a phone call with someone who can give you a good overview and the realities of the workplace.
There are more firms than ever, succession planning and seeking good Senior Associates to step into Partnership positions. If you have a client base to bring you can usually gain Partnership in a firm after a year or two. If you are in one of the big firms and don’t have a transferrable client base but are well networked and good at developing relationships, there may be firms willing to offer you Special Counsel with Partnership tracking, giving you time to develop your own practice.
So, what are you waiting for? If you are driven to succeed now is the time to take advantage of this talent shortage to climb the career ladder.
If you are currently thinking about next steps, get in touch with the team at Altitude Recruitment for a confidential conversation.