Should I stay or should I go?
General counsel and lawyers like you are now more than ever seeking advice on what to do after making a move to a new role that was miss-sold during the interview process. The best action will depend on your nuanced situation, however, there are some general themes to be mindful of when considering what course to take.
Some people will advise you to resign on the spot if things aren’t working after a move. That is fine if you have plenty of money in the bank and are working more for mental stimulation rather than requiring income to live, sadly most of us aren’t fortunate enough to be in this situation.
If you do resign say three months in and don’t have another career vine to grab onto you might be out of work for a while. A disproportionate number of senior lawyers within buy side financial services have recently found themselves in this position. The longer any career gap becomes the harder it is to slip back into the groove and find something new. The market for legal talent particularly at the senior end is fiercely competitive.
If there is an ethical consideration or culture clash that makes “sticking it out” for 18 months (usually the minimum bar to illustrate loyalty) untenable then you may have to leave like it or not. The first thing to do is create an action plan. Decide how long you will keep pushing for your “A” role before changing tack and looking at other options. Speak to headhunters, your network (partners in law firms are great sources of information), write articles and attend networking events, brush off your LinkedIn and repeat this formula regularly.
Time has ticked by and still nothing? Consider looking at B roles and/or consultancy work as a stop gap. The interim market for legal talent seems to be going from strength to strength as a dated profession updates to become fit for purpose in the 21st century. There is much less stigma than there once was attached to taking interim assignments before returning to the permanent market, it’s not unusual for a good interim role to make you more marketable and enhance your CV.
If you are able to wait it out in your new role and hedge your bets, this is the safest choice and may have some surprising results. Perhaps you have a great relationship with a previous employer you can go back to, it is worth exploring even if informally, great talent is hard to find an acknowledging you made a mistake and “coming home” can on occasion work well. There is no reason that you can’t explore this and look for other “A” roles discreetly while employed after all the more options you have the better.
The biggest benefit to waiting it out in a new role comes when the reason you are experiencing difficulties is down to a person as opposed to a structural inadequacy or pervasive negative company ethos. People move on, so leaving a great company because of a bad manager only to find that they are out 3 months later will leave a blip on your CV that will always need to be explained for nothing.
Even if you were miss-sold the role, we can’t know the future, a bad job can turn into a fantastic opportunity given the right amount of time and circumstance. Take a moment to undertake a cost benefit analysis and think pragmatically about what might be possible before taking any action. Look at the business fundamentals and if it is possible things could change for the better in the next six months to a year seriously consider sticking with it as any decision making related to your career should be taken with the long term in mind.