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Steps to finding the best job as a newly qualified professional


Embarking on the search

As a guide, trainees qualifying in September should start considering their options in March. March qualifiers should start this in September. Although not all trainees qualify at these times, generally speaking you should commence the process when you begin the final seat of your training contract.


Prior to contacting your recruiter do have a think about the area you wish to specialise in and the options open to you that you find appealing. It is also a good idea to prepare a first draft of your CV so your recruiter has a guide of your experience to date. Being prepared with a preferred route and CV is not essential but will help focus your mind and your meeting with your recruiter. However, if you find that you are not sure what path you want to go down and you are not sure how to go about preparing your CV speak with your recruitment consultant and they will offer their advice and expertise.

Choosing your recruiter

This is an important decision to ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of securing your ideal role. Choose an experienced recruitment consultancy with full market coverage so they can cover all of your options and advise you most effectively. If you register with a leading Legal recruitment agency, you should not need to register with more than two agencies. In most circumstances you only need one agency to best represent you in the market and signing up with too many can cause confusion for many job seekers who will often find they can’t remember who is representing them for which opportunity. Choosing a recruitment consultancy with a specialist NQ team, such as Michael Page Legal, will ensure the focus is specifically on you and your unique needs as a trainee or newly qualified lawyer.

Meet your consultant

Where possible meet your consultant. They will be able to gain a proper idea of how you come across and will also be able to give you invaluable feedback on your interview technique. They will also advise how you can improve your CV if you have prepared one in advance or can advise you on how to go about compiling the most effective CV. 

Work on your CV

Take time preparing your CV. It may take a few drafts before you get it right but it is the first thing prospective employers will see and the first thing they will judge you on so it is well worth putting in the effort. Make the most of their expertise as that is what they are there for.  For more CV advice please request a copy of our NQ Survival Guide.

Target the market

You would have discussed with your recruiter what options are available to you. Once you have decided which option you wish to pursue your recruiter will present you with a list of opportunities and will plan a course of action. With your consent they will target the market as appropriate.

Interviews and interview preparation

Your recruiter will work on your behalf and make the most of their relationships with their clients to obtain you an interview. Once you have interviews lined up seek the advice of your recruiter as to the interview process and format of the interview. You can find further interview advice in our NQ Survival Guide including top 10 interview questions.

Attend interviews

When it comes to interviews recite the mantra “Preparation, Preparation, Preparation”. Do your research and be prepared to talk about your experience. Allow plenty of time to get there and make sure you look smart and professional. Be alert, maintain eye contact and smile.  It will be over before you know it so make the most of your opportunity to impress and be yourself! Although interviews usually fill people with dread and nerves hit an all time high, try and calm yourself as much as possible.  Remember that the interview is a two-way process. You are there to find out as much about them as they are about you. Ask all the questions you need to and use it as a fact finding exercise. Most NQ’s find that the interview process helps focus their minds as to what is most important to them.

Interview feedback and offers

Following your interview call your consultant to exchange feedback. Your recruiter will follow up with your interviewers to find out their thoughts and how they would like to proceed. You will be informed of any offers made and your recruiter will be on hand to offer advice should you need it.

Making your decision

Assess the process so far and consider your motivations. Make the most of your recruiter although the only person that can really make the decision is you.

Acceptance and resignation

Once you have made your decision you will need to sign the paperwork and inform all the necessary parties. If you have been offered a role with your current firm you will need to inform them that you will not be staying on. Helpful advice on how to go about this can be found in our NQ Survival Guide.

Crack open the champagne!

And make sure your recruiter takes you out for a celebratory drink.
Find your next legal career move by browsing our current legal jobs.
*Michael Page International is an equal opportunities organisation. We welcome applications from all candidates with the relevant skills and experience and do not restrict the recruitment services to any particular group.