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Working out your notice period

Working out your notice period

One thing that can often be over looked in the recruitment process is a lawyers’ behaviour pre and post resignation. For most of you, it goes without saying that you will respect your employer to the very end; however, when you are unhappy and stressed it can sometimes be hard to keep the bigger picture in mind.

Set out below is a list of things you should always be mindful of when departing an organisation:

When you have decided to make a move it can be hard to remain motivated; especially if you are not culturally aligned to a partner, GC or wider group. This can be a slippery slope and you need to remind yourself that the legal market is small in Australia and you don’t want to tarnish your reputation in your few remaining months. It is best to begin your search in earnest and ensure a quick exit, but at the same time always maintain your standards, worth ethic and keep your cards close to your chest.

On the point above, remember you often need a reference from your current employer when leaving so keeping up your performance right to the very end is vital.

People often say they feel more nervous about resigning than interviewing for a job. The reality is most people are concerned about how their current employer will react to the news, or they are worried about upsetting them. If your employer does react badly (and often we see supervisors resorting to very childish behaviour!), the best course of action is to remain neutral and not engage. More often than not they settle down and in the end come around to give you a nice send off.

Partners or General Counsels who react poorly to a resignation are often the types to talk ill of you. So it is imperative that you think of yourself and potential reputational risk if you react. When in doubt, say nothing. While it might feel good to unload, it is not worth it in the long term.

While your current employer may request you extend your notice period, more often than not this is not in your best interest. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, honour your notice period and move on. You have to remember your future employer hired you for a reason and their role is often urgent. Loyalty for the sake of it doesn’t take your career anywhere.

Maintain your networks with your previous firm. You never know, some of these people may move in-house and could potentially be clients one day.

Finally, I always recommend people taking off at least a week between jobs. It is a great opportunity to freshen up, take care of life admin and unwind. You want to turn up fresh and raring to go in your new role.

Sam Gray

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