When lawyers ask me to help them with a job search, I ask a question many lawyers are uncomfortable answering in job interviews: Why do you want to leave your current job?
When lawyers say they feel like they’re treading water, stagnating, or stalled professionally, I want to know what’s really going on.
One reason I ask is because leaving isn’t always the best move, especially when you like your employer and colleagues.
For some lawyers, treading water at work is exhausting physically and mentally. For others, it’s easier.
It depends on how you’re wired and what you want from work: a steady paycheck, to be busy, to be left alone, predictable hours, time off, respect, an expertise, appreciation, acknowledgment for your contributions, a promotion, a raise, more responsibility, more challenges, professional growth, a corner office, to be in charge. The list goes on.
If you’re a lawyer feeling like you’re treading water, you probably already know what would have to change for you to stay. But perhaps you haven’t thought about what must happen first for that change to occur.
Before you decide to leave, you should think about it. What must happen for the change to occur? And what, if anything, can you do to make those things happen?
Say you’re inhouse or in a firm, and you want more responsibility or a different kind of work, but your boss says his hands are tied for reason x or y or both. For example, he doesn’t have the other kind of work to give you, or he “has to” give it to someone else, or he just says he’ll keep your request in mind….
The change you want is the additional responsibility or the other kind of work. The things that have to happen first might include creating a reason your boss has to give it to you, him getting more of the other kind of work, him realizing that he wants to give you the work, him realizing he’ll lose you if he doesn’t make these changes, you getting a new boss, etc.
What, if anything, can you do to make those precursors happen? What action steps are within your control? How does a different perspective help shed light on this situation?
It isn’t easy to walk through this thought process on your own. And the process isn’t always necessary. But if these scenarios feel familiar, please contact me.
We can coach through this together to make sure you’ve done everything you can, that you’re not leaving a good job prematurely or for the wrong reasons. We can also make sure that you’re moving to a better job, a good fit, not just running from a bad one. Besides, we can vastly improve your answer to why do you want to leave your current job!