Changing jobs is no small matter. The decision to move, application process, interviews and the first day are all extremely stressful situations. It can be difficult to know whether it is really the best thing for you and your career.
Emotions can run high, with everything from guilt to anxiety to relief playing a part. However, if you’re considering a move, there’s a good chance there’s a reason – you just need to make sure you’re thinking about the important factors, and not jumping in blindly.
Why do you want to move?
You know you want to move, but why? The first step to successfully changing jobs is to know, in definite terms, what it is that your current role is missing.
Are you looking for a better work-life balance? 20-hour days are one thing when you’re fresh out of university and hungry to make partner, but they’re another thing entirely if you’re trying to juggle them with a family and children.
Perhaps you’re stressed? The legal industry has a notoriously bad mental health problem, thanks in large part to pressurised work environments and endless billables.
Maybe you’re bored, and finding yourself looking for more challenging work or something new? Is there no longer any room for you to grow?
Knowing what it is that you don’t like about your current job is the first step to determining what you need from your new role.
What do you want from your new job?
It’s important that you don’t move for the sake of moving, even if you feel that getting away from that one annoying colleague will solve all of your problems.
If the hours you work now are a big part of the reason you want to move, there is no point switching to a new firm where similar hours are expected. If you’re feeling bored, the same work in a new office won’t make you happier.
Ask yourself what a new job would need to offer for you to accept it. Do you want a clearer path to partnership? Is the opportunity to mentor younger lawyers exciting? Would you really just like to leave the office at 5.30?
What are your long-term goals?
Lastly, no matter how desperate you may be to get out of your current job, don’t disregard your long-term career goals. You should feel as though you are moving toward a new role, not away from an old one.
Consider where you want to be in ten years. Do you want to be a partner, or move in-house? What matters do you see yourself working on?
Making a move which won’t benefit your career in the long run will ultimately be a waste of your own time. If this move in-house won’t help you achieve your goal of being made up next 1 July, it isn’t the right move for you. But if you’re looking for broader experience or have long-term ambitions to be a general counsel, a move in-house may be the perfect next step. It all depends on where you see yourself next.