Navigating job insecurity during economic uncertainty

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Navigating job insecurity is a balancing act in the law between engaging fully in each billable hour to ensure you are making the best impact in a team structure that you can whilst not ignoring the natural indicators that you may feel that determine whether you are ready for a role change. Don’t simply ignore your career options out of fear around a downturn in opportunities. The best way forward is to separate the two and pursue both to ensure development and security.

Firstly, use a friend as a sounding board that understands the legal industry specifically or engage with a consultant that will listen and not apply pressure. Tell this person what you enjoy about your current role and what you do not. Go further and identify the things that perhaps served you well when you started in this role and what you feel you have mastered. Then discuss what you identify as your next set of challenges or areas for development that you would like to target most.

Can you communicate these areas for development to someone that will listen in your current role? If so you are furthering your value to your current team by speaking up and displaying your desire to do more. You are also looking after your skill development for your resume for future opportunities.

Meanwhile though we all know that there is no magic bullet for a downturn. It is critical to always make yourself invaluable to a team during these times in a cultural sense as well as technically. Consider that the thoughts around insecurity and pipeline of work are now held by each individual in your team. Different personalities react differently and as such you will find yourself in a new or altered cultural environment. Some might become quiet and internalize the situation whilst others might outwardly display stress that can have a ripple effect. Whatever the case, consider your current team environment and determine how you can best stand out to leaders in terms of the ‘softer skills’ you can display that create unity and positivity.

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas. One of the best ways to firm up job security is to creatively apply yourself to how a team can bend or change to the new business environment. We have all heard the new buzz word ‘pivot’ lately and there are countless examples of businesses that thrive due to innovation that came out of a downturn. Take some time to research, brainstorm and develop new ideas on how to best maximize profile and revenues. You can be at any level in a business when you do this. if you are engaged you will find the time to contribute and get noticed with your own ideas. Good leaders will love this.

Share. Remember that people come to the office with all sorts of stresses on their shoulders during a downturn and sometimes we can focus to much on our own situation. A downturn across sectors is a shared human experience after all. I don’t mean share your sad tales of first world hardship at work. No, what is required in a downturn is a focus on deepening your relationships in the workplace. Share positive or funny interactions that you may have experienced at work. It can be from your current role or previous ones. Share tasks, include people in your little victories at work or personally so that you build connection. Often in a downturn, it is those that had a positive impact on morale and the team culture overall during these times are far more secure in their roles long term. I am sure all of us have heard phrases like ‘Wendy was the glue in our team.’ Be the glue if you want to stick.

While you are being the most engaged you in your current workplace, take a defined list of aspirations that you identified by speaking with chosen ‘sounding board’ and deliver that information to someone who will monitor the market for this type of opportunity for you. The simple fact is that there are less people on the market in quieter times and therefore statistically your competition is far less. Let someone come to you with the right opportunity and a who is keeping a general hand on the market for you in case your situation changes in your current role despite all your efforts. Connect with someone you trust. Don’t ever assume there is nothing out there.

Lastly approach a potential new opportunity with a nice blend of hardy vigor and scrutiny in a downturn. Sell yourself more during these times in an interview (without being arrogant) but scruitinise revenues and recent attrition patterns more in your research around the firm.