Should You Change Employer During COVID?

Have you thought about looking for a new role in the past few months? If, like The Clash, you may have been thinking ‘Should I stay or should I go?’. Perhaps you have been wondering whether you should keep looking, or remain where you are and not take any risks until COVID blows over. Over the past months I have spoken to a number of lawyers who started the processes of looking for a new role, but put the search on hold – deciding to remain at their current employer.
‘So ya gotta let me know. Should I stay or should I go?’
The first thing I generally get asked is ‘Are firms still hiring?’. Yes, firms are still hiring, especially for “essential roles” and those roles in high demand especially property, commercial, litigation and family law. In addition, partners and senior associates with client bases are still being considered by boutique and mid-tier firms who are looking to grow their practice.
Another common question candidates have is “What if I accept a new role and the employer pulls out at the last minute?”. The only time when this was an issue was right at the start of the very first lock-down, and then only for one or two roles. This situation is certainly not happening now. At this point, law firms aren’t trying to hire candidates they don’t really have an immediate need for. But they are hiring for positions that they genuinely need filled, either because someone left the position, or because of an influx of work. This means that they are committed to getting the vacancy filled. Those moving to a new role today will have a very secure place within their hiring firm.
You might be wondering what the positives are when looking for a role in these uncertain times?
For starters, a lot of people are making the decision to stay in their current role, so there are fewer candidates looking (especially at the more senior levels). This means the roles available are yours to choose. And if there aren’t any roles available that are suitable, and you aren’t in a huge rush to move, it is still a great time to get the ball rolling and make some introductions.
The truth is that the best job opportunities, with the least competition, can occur during times of uncertainty. Those who take the bull by the horns and progress their career often look back on their decision as a watershed moment. Being decisive, when others are not, can put you in the front seat. If you wait until certainty returns you will strike a backlog of movers and find it a lot harder to secure that ideal role. Regardless of what you decide to do, now is a great time to reflect on your job and career.