Career Managing Self

“I” is for some hireback “Inspiration”

Written by Paulette Pommells

A job search post-hireback is a marathon, not a sprint. True to form, many of my clients need a little Gatorade from time to time to get them through a dry spell…so here is some hydration! A former client has generously provided her reflections having recently gone through the hireback process.

Nancy, I’ll call her, articled for the Ontario government and was able to secure a short-term contract with them afterwards. Just before the contract was up, Nancy interviewed with another ministry, and:

  • Unfortunately, she was not hired and so began a 7-month journey of looking for an associate position
  •  Fortunately, that ministry eventually offered her a long-term contract 7 months later, where she still works today

The Time in Between = Family Life + Document Review Work + Networking

Nancy says that the time in between allowed her, “to spend quality time with my child (whom I had an abbreviated maternity leave with) and work on creating an honest business case that distinguished me from the crowd of recent law graduates.” 

She worked on one document review project for 10 weeks, which didn’t initially appeal to her. However, “after speaking with someone who was doing that work, I chose to work with [that] particular firm based on its reputation, the pay and the flexibility it offered in terms of personal time-management.”

Nancy goes on to name three concrete benefits for doing document review work:

  1. “It pays well and is a reliable form of income. I made a significant amount of money on one project.”
  2. “The second benefit was the flexibility I had with managing my time.”
  3. “Lastly, the third benefit was the exposure to specialized areas of law. My brief exposure to anti-trust and competition law has been useful in my current practice.”

Developing on the second point, Nancy scheduled lunches and coffees with lawyers and managing partners during her down time. She heeded the advice offered in a previous article I wrote, “C” is for the “Courage” it takes for a New-Call to Network.

All of Nancy’s contacts provided her with excellent leads. She says this wouldn’t have happened had she “just corresponded by email or over the phone. You learn a lot face to face. People are more likely to buy what you are selling in person.”

Landing Her Current Role

What made the difference in landing her current role? Nancy says “the genuine confidence I projected and my ability to clearly answer the questions with a solid substantive knowledge of the law tied with my practical experience.” She attributes our work as helping her “hone and authentically express what I knew about myself and how I could enhance the legal services provided by the branch.”

Prior to working together, Nancy says she “didn’t feel totally in control of my career. Career coaching settled my anxiety and helped me create practical strategies for career success.”

Three Things Nancy Wants You to Know

Having had time to reflect on the hireback process, Nancy wants you to know the following:

  1. “Intuition – Hone it and go with it. I tapped into my intuition early on in my articles and it paid dividends. Career coaching often affirmed my intuition or helped me to turn the inkling into a productive lead. Had I not used a career coach, I may have delayed following the inkling and deprived myself of possibilities.”
  2. “Utilize your network – we all have a network. Successfully utilizing it is a skill. Career coaching helped me identify how close I was to so many people, career options and opportunities.  Many people, internal and external to the profession, are willing to help. However, it is an art deciphering who to ask, what to ask and what you have to offer.”
  3. “Invest in yourself – Looking back, what I achieved with a career coach would have taken me years to do on my own. I consulted an expert in the field to gain insight and to enhance my professional potential. I am thriving professionally and I am happy overall.”

What would you want your future self to tell you about how you should handle the hireback process? 

Lawyer Coach Paulette will be delivering a workshop on “How to Deconstruct a Job Ad,” May 17th in Toronto. If you’d like to learn more about it or her work transitioning articling students to an associate position, please set up a 30-minute complimentary call at or visit 

About the author

Paulette Pommells

I am a certified coach with a creative approach to bring out the best of the 21st Century Lawyer! A 21st Century Lawyer myself, I was faced with a professional dilemma years ago: I had become a “successful” lawyer, and yet something didn't feel right. One day, I hired a career coach and realized how similar coaching is to the legal strategy process. I decided to share this breakthrough with every single lawyer. Today, Creative Choices™ is a sought-after technique by lawyers, law students and law firms when it comes to professional challenges of all kinds. You can learn more about this on my website or by emailing me at

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