How Do I Manage My Career During the 4th Quarter?
Every year it sneaks up on you. Suddenly documents and deadlines have piled up and you’re losing sleep: it’s the Fourth Quarter. You’re unbelievably busy and trying to manage what feels like 100 matters at once. Meanwhile, you receive numerous calls from recruiters asking questions like: Are you satisfied with your practice? Are you taking advantage of this busy market? Did you know that the beginning of the year tends to be the busiest time in the recruiting space, and are you planning ahead? If you pick up the phone and/or listen to these voicemails, you’re probably thinking: I don’t even have time to order dinner on Seamless, so how am I supposed to figure all of this out now?? First, take a deep breath and do not succumb to the idea that you’ll just deal with everything “later”. The fourth quarter IS the perfect, and most logical, time to organize your thoughts and get on track for next year. Starting this process now is more manageable than you think!
A very common fear expressed by associates is that they’ll wake up one day as a senior-level attorney without a clue about their future prospects. To avoid this scenario, let’s make the important notion of planning your career and learning about the market more palatable. It’s not too late to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your current practice and what you want to accomplish next year. So, let’s just focus on three objectives:
1. Carve out the time – this is your career we’re talking about! I know – the entire first paragraph focused on your busy schedule. But, take a minute to really look at your calendar. I bet that between closings or filings, you have a little empty space. You have to remember that no one is looking over your shoulder anymore. It’s your responsibility to find that brief moment where you can focus on yourself, what’s important to you and your next steps.
2. Find your trusted advisor and talk it out. You shouldn’t have to do this on your own! It’s time to partner with someone who has perspective and experience with legal career planning. This individual can be a partner mentor, professional development manager or even a recruiter! As we have said many times in this newsletter, a trustworthy recruiter can be an invaluable resource. You need to speak with someone who is well-versed in the current legal market who can: (1) meaningfully evaluate your experience; (2) hone in on your interests and long-term goals; and (3) discuss the process and/or steps that are necessary to reach those goals.
3. Schedule future dates to check in. Don’t let this first productive conversation go to waste. If you’re not exploring the market right now, then you need to think ahead. In order to hold yourself accountable, and to enforce necessary progress, schedule future time(s) – even just once per quarter –when you will check in with this advisor.
Taking a little time out of your busy schedule to just focus on yourself, and plan ahead, will benefit you in 2015 and beyond. You’ll feel more in control AND increase your own certainty of attaining long-term goals.