April has been a great month from my perspective – we’ve had a good month in terms of placements, and I’ve had ten days off so all is right with the world! (My colleagues coped admirably in my absence, I am very pleased to say!) So here’s what we’ve seen going on in the NQ job market – and things are starting to get busy…
May is the month.
Lots of firms have been conducting their internal processes throughout April. I am writing on Friday 5th May, and it is a big day for NQs in several brands with Yorkshire offices – DLA have announced internally the outcome of their NQ process, and I think Eversheds have too. Some directly comparable brands will take a bit longer yet – this is proving troublesome for their lawyers who are talented enough to get offers elsewhere, as many are in a dilemma as to whether to move on or whether to sit tight. (My colleague Gemma has discussed this topic in more detail in another blog: click here to read ‘Should I stay or should I go?’)
Whether or not trainees decide to look at roles outside their current firm, market clarity is always a good thing, and these brands will now be getting into a better position to decide whether they’ll require NQ talent required from outside their own group of second year trainees.
Second choices are coming in to focus.
Candidates are increasingly mulling over their second choices, mainly out of frustration at a market that hasn’t offered them anything significant to look at yet. It is sensible to consider choices wisely, but do it for the right reasons, and think about whether there is anything else you can flex on other than the type of work you’ll practice. I’d advise anyone to look at a different location or a different level of firm before they compromise on the type of law they’ll practice.
It is a split market right now – we’ve seen a mix of candidates who desperately want an interview or any market interest to reaffirm that their training and experience is going to get them a job; and others who have already secured a range of interviews, to the point where they are declining some opportunities and limiting new applications! It feels cruel and bizarre; but it is a market, after all, and any market can feel fickle and unfair. My hot tip (keep it to yourself, mind you): if you’re looking to secure lots of interviews, pick Real Estate as your niche, and consider firms outside the Top 20!
Be ready or be left behind.
At this uncertain stage in the year, one thing is for sure: anyone who still hasn’t finalised a CV is leaving it precariously late. At Florit Brooke we’re working with over a hundred 2017 NQs – that’s just a modest section of the total candidate market, concentrated in one region of the UK.
With that in mind, remember that this crowded market affects our selection pool: as soon as a role comes to market now there will be multiple candidates to suggest, and if it is a larger brand using a range of recruiters the market will have been panned within 36 hours. In fact, the majority of appropriate candidates will have been contacted within 15 minutes of a vacancy release, but I’m accepting that not all of those individuals will respond immediately as they’ll be at work or otherwise engaged. Clients use recruiters for speed and for choice, and so there isn’t a need for them to wait for applications to catch up with the process.
A final point of note: despite the role of recruiters in the hunt for NQ legal jobs, firms do accept direct applications, and some readers might expect me to in some way be protective or to downplay that eventuality. Last month, I heard a bizarre instance of a recruiter telling a candidate (untruthfully) that a firm wasn’t accepting direct CVs. Totally ridiculous, and, to be frank, as an experienced recruiter I find it embarrassing to hear of that sort of game playing – it devalues the good work recruiters do, and gives the sector a bad name. It’s clear that firms will consider candidates from various channels, and recruiters need to be confident enough in their services and their position in the market that they have no need to mislead candidates who deserve the truth. (Rant over.)