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Job hopping is seen as a taboo subject amongst all working professionals, let alone the legal sector. The rule of thumb is that the more frequently you move, the less attractive you come across to prospective employers. After all, hiring managers in the legal sector often make long-term, strategic hires. Why would they hire someone who has never held a job down for longer than a year or two? This is compounded by a bad hire or a hire leaving after just a few months, costing a law firm upwards of three times that person’s salary. It is surely a no brainer for hiring managers to opt for someone who has remained in their current firm for an extended period of time, as opposed to the former.

But is it Really so Black and White?

It is easy to dismiss the CV of a candidate who seemingly job hops as, well, a job hopper! A common assumption is that they are unreliable, uncommitted and impatient. I would argue that it is worth delving deeper into the driving factors that motivate an employee to quit, or switch, their current position.

Motivations Behind Job Hopping

Motivations behind job hopping differ from person to person. In the legal sector, one of the most common reasons we hear as Recruiters is the consensus that their current firm offers little to no opportunities for progression. Worse still, we hear (far more commonly than you might think), that a hire has been ‘sold down the river’; their new employer may have offered them perks to the role that are later rescinded, new elements to the role that have seemingly appeared out of thin air or have not been discussed during the interview stage, or have neglected to inform candidates about the firm’s plans for growth (such as a merger or an acquisition) that otherwise would have prevented a candidate from applying to begin with. This begs the question, can job hopping be prevented by a conscious effort from law firms and hiring managers to keep their existing staff happy?

The Impact of COVID-19

Leaving a job is not always a conscious decision either. The impact of COVID-19 on the legal market cannot be emphasised enough. Amongst the thousands of people in the UK made redundant at the height of the pandemic, the worst affected were those due to complete their training contracts and those over the age of 57. This poses a particular challenge to those demographics, many of whom are still actively searching for work. One group is too junior, the other is too senior. Employers in today’s legal market are ideally looking to hire somewhere in between, which will no doubt create gaps in CVs and further apprehension from hiring managers towards those groups of people.

Keep an Open Mind

As recruiters, it is our job to work with these people to help them secure their next role. We have learnt that those job hopping candidates can actually be some of the hungriest and most determined candidates currently available on the market. It is important therefore for a firm to keep an open mind during the hiring process – perfection is very rarely achieved!

 

Cameron Milton specialises in helping Lawyers from NQ to Partner level find new roles across London. If you are considering a move, or would like more information about the opportunities available to you, contact Cameron

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