Everyone makes mistakes and stumbles while carving out their career. Making mistakes is one of the best ways we can learn and improve. When you make them early on in your career, some mistakes can have significant impact on how your career develops. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the very common ones we see made by junior candidates starting out in their career.
Having money be your number one motivator on whether you accept a job.
Don’t get me wrong. Salary is very important, and the cost of living is high. However, money should not be the only reason you accept a job. The job you take should be one that allows you to get the experience you need to grow your career to where you want to take it. Thinking two steps ahead always helps.
We very regularly see junior candidates accept a position because it pays the most. In our experience, this is not the wisest decision. Sometimes, there is a reason a firm offers above market salary. High volume of work, a very challenging personality to work with, or a toxic work environment, could be some of the reasons. This is “danger pay”.
Often, they turn down the role, which offers mentorship, interesting work, or work-life balance for the role which offers the most money. Despite the higher salaried role not offering them anything else they are looking for in their career, they will accept it. All too often, we then see these same people looking for a new job in 3-4 weeks because they hate the environment, or they do not like the lawyer they are working with. Unfortunately, if you do this a few times, you will leave future prospective employers with questions about your stability.
Not seeing the bigger picture.
Another thing we regularly see is people with 6 months of experience telling us that they feel they have “done it all” in their current job, and now want a Senior level position.
When they do make such a move, the firm they are moving to will have a reason behind why they are willing to offer a Senior level position to such a Junior level candidate. (For example, a difficult lawyer to work for, toxic environment, etc.)
While we like the ambition, it is important to remember that firms need people who can hit the ground running. If you cannot, they will fire you. We see this very regularly. Unfortunately, when this happens, these people who have tried to fast-track their careers, end up leaving a blemish on their resume.
The legal community is very small, and your reputation is everything, as you never know if you’re going to cross paths with someone again in the future.
It is important to be respectful of people’s times and be professional in your dealings with them, even when you decide to move on from their firm.
You will never know what the future holds for your career, or who else you’re going to meet again on the road to your career destiny.
Thanks for reading! While we try our best to educate those who speak with us regarding the legal landscape about this, we know that unfortunately these answers are not what everyone wants to hear. Therefore, if you would like to discuss further or have any questions, feel free to send us an email or give us a call.