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Ask a recruiter: When should I start applying for NQ roles?

Read our latest instalment of our blog series titled ‘Ask a recruiter’, where we share questions we receive about interviews, CVs, the application process and really anything our candidates might be concerned or curious about. 

A soon to be NQ solicitor from the South East recently asked me “when should I start looking for a NQ job? Is it too early to be speaking to recruiters?”

There’s a myth around qualification that a lot of people are told: that NQ jobs are only released at certain times of the year – in the run up to March and September qualifications.

Of course, there are lots of solicitors who qualify at other times of the year. But, even then, there are a lot of trainees who wonder if they’ll have to wait longer to find a NQ role because firms will be waiting to release their roles at a more traditional time of year.

This is simply not the case.

If you keep an eye on the market as much I do, it’s very clear that NQ solicitors are in demand all year round.

There are, of course, a flurry of roles which present themselves when qualification is coming up, but it’s definitely not a one date fits all sort of market for trainees/NQs. In the same way that there is demand in different departments at varying times of the year for more senior solicitors, the same can be seen for NQ solicitors.

So, now that we know that jobs tend to come up as and when there’s a need within the firm, in addition to following the calendar of internal training contracts, we can come to answer the question of whether you could be too early to get in touch with recruiters.

I would say that if you’re getting in touch with recruiters or beginning to look for roles from about 9-10 months before you qualify, then you’re right on time.

I understand that 9-10 months might sound like a long way off from qualification (especially if your training contract is the typical 1 ½ – 2 years), but that time can pass faster than expected, and getting in touch this early really gives you and your recruiter a good amount of time to discuss your wants and needs as we look at how we can help you find the right position.

Whilst you won’t typically be in touch with your recruiter every week over the space of 10 months, you’ll likely be in touch with us more and more as you come to the end of your training contract. Having an idea of you and your interests earlier rather than later means that we can be in contact as and when NQ jobs come onto the market which suit you, and have time to really discuss all options when it comes to alternative approaches.

Having an experienced recruiter to walk you through the application process can free your attention to focus on getting ready for interviews and how you want to present yourself – something which we’ll be able to give even more help with! 

For many trainee solicitors, there are a lot of questions going forward with the process: where to look, how to apply, what are firms looking for? These can all be answered by a recruiter who knows the industry and crucially, knows you.

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For expert advice on how to get the best out of your Legal career, contact Hayley Rose for recruitment of jobs, both in-house and private, within the legal sector, predominantly across the South East and beyond.

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