Jamie Chan, Project Manager and Support Specialist at Commonwealth Legal, is an advocate for professional development and mentorship programs. She shares her advice on how organizations and individuals can get involved to help mitigate the talent drain on our industry.
I had the pleasure of moderating the career strategies session, Passing the Torch, at Technology in Practice 2017 with career guidance experts Mary Mack, Executive Director at ACEDs and Jared Coseglia, Founder and CEO at TRU Staffing Partners.
The shortage of resources and talent in our industry is not a new issue, but as our industry matures there are proven models and strategies coming to the fore. During the session, we discussed some rousing topics including current trends, management, retaining talent, elevating your profile, the value of lateral career moves and becoming an intrapreneur.
Here are the 4 R's to keep in mind as you navigate your own professional development journey or mentorship program at your organization.
#1. Resource Trends
With eDiscovery being more commoditized, we’re now often seeing talent move into adjacent sectors of our industry. Many individuals are moving into the “left” of the EDRM (Information Governance, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, etc.) as this grey area offers new and stimulating challenges in less charted territory.
Apart from seeking new challenges, some people are motivated to leave their jobs for other reasons like wanting to work remotely, feeling they’ve hit the ceiling, or just wanting to do something new. It may come as a surprise, but compensation is no longer the number one reason people are departing.
In an effort to mitigate the talent drain we’re seeing, it’s incredibly important to use some of the different strategies to keep the “good ones” from saying sayonara. As an employer, you should try to say “yes” as much as possible and keep an open and collaborative dialogue. Give your employees a voice and make sure they feel heard. Recognizing their value can also be as simple as providing them with a distinguished title; this shows your appreciation with little to no cost.
Sometimes the issue isn’t keeping the talent you’ve already got, but trying to fill an open or brand new position. If it isn’t already obvious, home-growing your talent is one of the best places to start. Identify those individuals who show potential for professional growth and on the flip side, as an employee looking to move laterally, put your hand up and show initiative.
The panel from left to right: Jared Coseglia, Mary Mack and Jamie Chan
Whether you’re thinking of moving laterally, vertically or into something else entirely, it’s worth your while to start brainstorming who you’ll pass the torch to. What are you doing? What can be passed on? Start prioritizing your day-to-day tasks and evaluate how transferable they are to someone else. While it’s important to be able to delegate, it’s also important to become your successor’s mentor. Make it a habit to have one-on-ones to keep each other accountable; people don’t generally become successful by hoarding knowledge, but rather by being transparent and open. At the same time, if you want the torch passed to you: make sure you’ve got a free hand to hold it!
#4. Raise Yourself Up!
It takes a certain kind of person to thrive in our ever-changing industry. A sure-fire way to elevate yourself is to get some credentials under your belt, whether it’s the ACEDs certification or becoming a Relativity Certified Administrator. Raise your profile by specializing in something other than the blanket statement of eDiscovery. For example, you could specialize in eDiscovery and forensics, or eDiscovery and GDPR, or eDiscovery and analytics.
In addition to having a niche, it is key to have credibility and credibility is visibility. Get your name out there by being social, writing blogs or even publishing books. Distinguishing yourself from the pack and bringing your uniqueness to the table are essential to being successful in whatever you do.