What was your methodology when searching for new jobs during a global crisis?

Natalie Salunke
Natalie Salunke

Knowing that companies would be proceeding with caution with regards to taking on new hires, I wanted to give myself the best chance of securing a role despite lockdown and the global pandemic. 

I reached out to my network – beit recruiters, external lawyers, newlaw contacts, previous people I had worked with, and friends and family, to let them know of my situation and to ask them to keep their eyes and ears to the ground. I kept in touch with my network throughout my search and aimed to check in every couple of weeks to see if they (or I) had any news. 

I treated my search like a full-time job and “worked” on it on a 9 to 5 basis. I set up job alerts on LinkedIn using search terms such as “Head of Legal” and “General Counsel” and each morning when I would receive such alerts, before I had even gotten out of bed, I would review and apply to the roles which I was interested in. Given the sheer number of applications these roles get, I wanted to ensure that I was at the top of the pile so I had the best chance of having my application reviewed. I also noticed that some of the LinkedIn ads would revert to other job sites which I also signed up to using key search terms.

Did you explore any career options that you would not ordinarily have considered? 

I used the opportunity to take a step back and assess what I wanted out of my next role, which involved considering options that weren’t necessarily another Head of Legal / General Counsel role.

I considered roles which would “deepen” my knowledge into other areas of law that I already had quality experience of but hadn’t necessarily been “coined” as an expert in, such as data protection law. I also considered non-legal operational roles such as COO positions in companies that were looking for people with legal experience but not to necessarily work as lawyers.

I considered private practice and “newlaw” ventures and mapped out the market, reaching out to firms and companies with whom I already had contacts and researched what other providers were out there. If you are looking to move from a traditional (in-house / private practice) role to something a little different then there are some really impressive legal start ups and newlaw outfits out there to consider, with varying operating models ranging from working as an employee or a contractor, and where assignments are offered to you to where you seek them out yourself. It’s a great time to consider whether you want to continue as you have before or try something new as there are more legal operating models than ever before.

Have you learnt any new skills over the past few months? 

One of the “skills” I have fostered over the past few months has been to open my mind to new opportunities and to say yes to things that I may not have said yes to before. I managed to secure a role helping a start-up on a part-time basis which has given me some amazing first-hand experience of what it is like to advise an early-stage pre-funding start up, something I would never had taken the risk to do before given the financial security of having a well-paid job in an established organisation.

Because it is a “cool” tech start up, I had to learn how to use some “cool” tech tools such as Slack, Click-Up, Figma, Miro and GSuite, tools which previous businesses I have worked for would never have thought of using.

I’ve also been cooking a lot more and, like a lot of people, I had the bright idea of ordering some “grow your own” seeds to plant when fresh fruit and vegetables were hard to come by…but by the time the seeds arrived, the supermarkets were restocked! Having said that, it’s been quite rewarding to see my plants grow and eat what I sow.

What advice would you give to anyone who is currently in-between jobs?

Don’t panic. Work out what you need to do to be financially stable. If you have a payout from your previous role, do you have time to relax and take a real break – it’s the perfect time to be spending quality time with your family (and now, friends). If money is a concern, then get planning. Looking for a new role can be a full-time job so treat it with the respect it deserves, take time to make relevant applications and stay positive. There are jobs out there and you will find something.

What have you learnt about yourself during this global pandemic?

I’m more resilient than I thought. I have often been accused of filling my time and “doing too much”, but I’m surprised how little I have missed having an active social life, my weekly trips to the theatre and eating out. I don’t miss the tube and actually feel anxious at the thought of having to travel in rush hour again face deep in other people’s armpits! Finally, and what I am somewhat disappointed about, is that my dog most definitely doesn’t enjoy spending every minute of every day with me and since I’ve secured my new role, has been looking forward to his days out with his sitters!