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31st Jan 2024

Practical Guidance When Looking for Your Next Role

Whether you're currently on the job hunt or anticipating the need to look in the near future, these insights may prove valuable in your career journey.

If you’re an in-house lawyer looking for your next career move, you’re not alone in feeling daunted by the task. However, it’s important to approach this challenge with the right mindset and strategies, as it can also be an opportunity to take control of your career path and find a role that aligns with your personal and professional goals.

Through conversations with other lawyers in a similar position, I’ve gathered a range of practical tips and strategies I want to share with you. Whether you’re currently on the job hunt or anticipating the need to look in the near future, these insights may prove valuable in your career journey.


Starting the Process

While job hunting can be a serious undertaking, it doesn’t have to be boring or uninspiring! You can make the process more fun and enjoyable with a bit of creativity.

One way is to set up a dedicated workspace that inspires you and helps you stay focused. You can also create a personalised job search checklist with stickers or fun visuals to track your progress and celebrate small wins. Another tip is to turn your job search into a game by setting daily or weekly challenges for yourself, like applying to a certain number of jobs or contacting a specific number of contacts.

By making your job search more engaging and enjoyable, you’ll be more motivated to stay on track and find the right role for you. Even having a theme song for the project can help you stay motivated … ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’ – by U2 and ‘Feeling Good’ – by Nina Simone are two that I have used.

Know What you are Looking For

When looking for your next job, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. Start by defining the type of role you want, and then identify the essential factors that matter most to you, like salary, leadership opportunities, and a short commute. Take the time to rank and weigh each factor, distinguishing between “deal breakers” and “nice-to-haves.” To help you identify what’s most important, look at job ads and highlight the aspects that appeal to you.

Remember that you’ll need to consider various factors, including what you want to do, what you’re capable of doing, and what the job market demands. By being considered in your approach, you’ll be better positioned to find a role that meets your needs and aligns with your goals.

How to Identify Your Perfect Role

Infographic Looking for a new role - venn diagram of personal interest, market demand and skills and experience all intersecting in a perfect role 'Sweet Spot'

Finding the Right Roles

  • Use online job platforms: LinkedIn, Seek, and the ACC Careers Board are some of the most popular online portals for lawyers. Set up job alerts on these sites so you are emailed about new jobs and the job market daily—become an informed consumer. Remember, job ads are employers’ wish lists; you do not have to meet all the criteria to apply.
  • Engage with and expand your network: communicate with people in your network. Have coffee with them or a videoconference and ask them about the market and what they see. Engage with the ACC, attend their events and get to know the movers and shakers in your profession.
  • Recruiters: Connect with and meet the recruiters to find out more about the market and see whether they have any suitable jobs. Ensure they don’t send your details to any organisation without your consent. Stay in front of mind with them, contacting them every two weeks to check in. Please do not assume that recruiters put all the roles online; at a guess, I would say only 20% are posted.
  • Dovetail: Keep up to date with Dovetail’s roles on our current roles page.
Dovetail- Practical guidance when looking for your next role

Applying for Roles

Your CV must be impeccable.
  • If you are wondering where to start, Microsoft Word and Canva have excellent CV templates and have a ‘Resume Assistant.’
  • Use colour—CVs are more often viewed on colour screens rather than just printed out.
  • Use subheadings, bullet points and formatting to make it accessible and easy to navigate.
  • Think of it as your marketing brochure.
  • Do not have any blank time gaps in your CV as they arouse suspicion—the reader will not assume you’re working on your Nobel Prize speech, instead that you have been languishing in a South American prison…
  • Your CV will be used as an example of your drafting ability—it must be perfect.
  • No more than four pages—and don’t even think of reducing the font size below 11.
  • All verbs should be in the past tense.
  • No photos—the reader may form a conscious or subconscious bias before you even meet; you want to be in control of your narrative.
  • Do not put a street address on the CV—just an email and mobile number.
  • Use the job ad and job description to tailor your CV to the role specifications.
  • Have someone you trust to review your CV and give you honest feedback.
  • Send your CV in pdf format.
  • Check out our advice on formatting CVs, what to do and, more importantly, what not to add!
LinkedIn profile
  • Yes, you need one. And if you think you don’t, think again.
  • This must be as polished as your CV.
  • Do not put your work email address or phone number as the contact details.
  • Do your CV first and use those details to populate your LinkedIn profile.
  • The photo must be professional and recent—do not have a drink in your hand or your arm around someone.
  • Update all the back-end settings on LinkedIn. There are over 50+ settings to adjust. Grab a coffee, sit down and work through them one by one
  • For some more advice to improve your LinkedIn profile, check out Dovetail’s Nanotip on how to add career breaks to your profile.
Cover letters
  • No—don’t do one unless specifically requested to. If you are asked to include a cover letter, make it unique, human and honest— something that will make the reader smile and remember you.
Online social networks
  • Potential employers will search for you on Facebook, Instagram and any other online social network you may have a presence on. Ensure you have configured your privacy settings appropriately to avoid having potentially embarrassing content visible.
  • It may be helpful to Google yourself—it is often surprising what Google will find.
Apply for roles simultaneously
  • Do not apply for one role; see that process through before using it for the next. Instead, apply for many positions in parallel.
Interim roles
  • It is far better to have an interim role on your CV than to have a blank space. This demonstrates adaptability, flexibility and transferable skills, and it also expands your network and provides income.

While you wait…

You could sit on your couch and watch re-runs of your favourite Netflix program …. or you could:

  • Undertake the Legal Practice Management course for sole practitioners that would allow you to consult directly with clients—it takes three days and costs around $1,600.
  • Complete one of the excellent short courses offered by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
  • Work on your interview technique.
  • Practise psychometric testing by completing practice tests online.
  • See a voice coach and undertake workshops on your presentation skills.
  • Network and catch up with friends and former colleagues.
  • Make sure you stay healthy—exercise and meditate.
Business people shaking hands in the office. Photo of one cheerful businessman and one happy businesswoman handshaking.


You could sit on your couch and watch re-runs of your favourite Netflix program, or you could:

  • A little bit of practice goes a long way.
  • The skills you learn practising for interviews will be helpful throughout your career.
  • You only need to be 1% better than the other candidate, so every little advantage counts.
  • Take the time to read books and watch videos on the power of:
    • body language
    • voice
    • clothing
  • Interviews for interim roles are different from interviews for permanent positions, there is typically only one interview before a decision is made, and all information for both parties to make that decision needs to be exchanged. Thus it is more like speed dating than a long interview, so be ready and aware of this.
  • Do your research on the interviewer and the company and demonstrate this in the interview.
  • Use examples and the power of storytelling to illustrate your experience and skills.
  • Laugh, smile and enjoy the interview—people want to work with people that have a happy disposition.
  • Do not arrive more than five minutes early to the interview.
  • No one buys from a desperate salesperson—play it cool and stay relaxed.
  • If you are a coffee drinker, ensure you are caffeinated before attending.
  • Do not schedule an interview over lunch—the interviewer may try to wait until after the interview before eating, and they could become ‘hangry.’
  • Do not take notes during the interview, as this is a time to form rapport—you can take notes after you have left.
  • If they ask you if you would like a drink, have water, do not order a decaf, soy, frappe, with caramel … they may have to make it themselves.
  • Send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer.


  • Take control of the situation and treat it like a project—you can take many practical steps to get ready and be best placed when the proper role becomes available.
  • Never has so much information or people available to assist us in achieving our job goals—use this. Read the books, meet the people, expand your network, and watch the videos.
  • There is always room for improvement; remember, you want to be at least 1% better than the other candidates. Practise your interview technique and have someone you trust to review your CV.
  • Persistence and perseverance pay dividends.
  • Stay positive and view the period of change as an exciting opportunity.
If you are interested in hearing more, listen to my guest appearance on the Hearsay Legal Podcast where we have an excellent discussion of whether cover letters still hold value, the best time of year for job searching, and the importance of a career objective. Listen Here!


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