Undecided about a Career Move? Grab a Pen and Paper!

When deciding to make any type of change in your career, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the questions that may come to mind. 

·      Is in-house the path I want to pursue? 

·      Would I be better off staying at a firm? 

·      If I stay at a firm, should I stay at my firm or find a firm that may be a better fit? 

·      Should I consider mid-size or small firms? 

·      Are there options for me outside of law?   

·      How unhappy am I? 

·      Is it really worth starting over someplace new?

I could fill the page.  We all toss around questions of both great importance and minor detail as we contemplate leaving the job we know for the great unknown.  However, these questions should not be used as an excuse to stay put.  If you are not happy, or are somewhat happy but wonder what else is out there, you owe it to yourself to think about what is not satisfying about your current role.  This will allow you to work towards finding a position that is more fulfilling.  You may even find that the grass isn’t actually greener somewhere else, but you won’t know if you don’t explore. 

My advice is old fashioned, but also is tried and true.  It is the same for candidates who find the idea of starting a search daunting and for candidates deciding whether to accept an offer.  Get out a pen, find some paper and make a list of the factors that matter most to you.  Be sure to include the positives and negatives of your current position and of the position you are seeking/offered.  When you have all of your thoughts written down, put your list away and go do something else.  After a few hours or even a day or two, take another look and see if there is anything to add.

Many times, the pro side or the con side of the list is so heavily weighted that the decision becomes obvious.  Other times, despite one side seeming like the clear winner, your gut reaction tells you otherwise.   If there is no definitive answer, your written list will allow you to focus on the issues that you need to resolve in order to make a decision.  In each case, the process of thinking about the factors that are most important to you AND writing them down will ensure you are being thorough in your decision making while you avoid the pitfalls of getting distracted by unrelated matters.  I guarantee, whether you move or not, you will find the time you put into organizing your thoughts on paper is time well spent.

Want to talk through your list of career priorities and concerns?  Call or email me for a consultation.

Amy Goldstein is the founder of Grayson Allen, Inc., a New York based attorney search and career consulting firm.  She has been providing career advice and recruiting attorneys for in-house and law firm positions since 2000.