Locum solicitors can be notoriously bad at keeping a record of their previous locum work history. This can be a complete nightmare for the recruitment agencies involved because it can leave them with no idea what the locum has been doing for the last few years. This can be the difference between getting an assignment or not, particularly if the hourly rate is disproportionately high compared with the expectations of the law firm requiring a locum.
We have a locum on the books who is one of our regulars but has not updated his CV for about 4 years. During that time he has probably undertaken between 50 to 60 locum assignments, but we don’t know actually what those are because he has never given them to us. Instead, we are dependent on writing a short note to say that he locums extensively across a wide area and that we have always had very positive feedback on his work. On a number of occasions this had led to someone else getting the locum assignment, and whilst this may not particularly bother the locum in question, who picks up plenty of work generally, it seems a shame that just for the small task of keeping a record of dates and forwarding it across to us, he is missing out on assignments.
So how should you keep a record and what should the record be of? Firstly, keep a note of the dates. You don’t necessarily have to know that between the 12th and 16th of August you spent a week at Smith’s Solicitors in Barnstaple, but to have a note that in August 2017 you were with Smith’s Solicitors in Barnstaple for 1 week is very helpful. You also need the name of the firm, the location, ideally an email address for someone at the practice, a short note as to the type of work you were doing, and the identity of the person you were covering for. By this, I mean the level within the practice, so if you are covering for a partner or head of the department, anyone reading your CV can immediately see that you have provided cover at a senior level.
The easiest way of maintaining a diary is to keep an excel spreadsheet with a column for each of the fields mentioned. Every time you do a locum assignment simply add the new firm and information in. Excel spreadsheets can be copied into emails; the data can be manipulated or pasted.
Keeping a sheet of paper with handwritten notes on simply doesn’t work because then if anybody needs to see it they have to either copy it into a record themselves or you have to photocopy it and send it across. Neither is particularly professional in the modern digital age and it can make the locum look very old fashioned indeed if we have to send over a scrappy piece of paper that has been photocopied numerous times.
We cannot emphasise how important it is to keep a record of all your assignments as it makes such a difference to your future prospects of work. You cannot expect locum agencies to add this information for you, although if there are any out there doing this, please tell me so we can have a look and see how they are putting the information together. If you are up against another six locums for the same assignment and five of them are maintaining a regular diary of their locum work, then you can virtually guarantee which locums will be going forward for a particular role and which one is going to miss out. The diary becomes particularly important if you are a professional locum charging a fairly high hourly rate for your work. This will make a considerable difference to your chances of success, and for some of the locums registered with us, it is the one thing they could do to increase their prospects of good quality work.