Niche Practice


I've been offered a position at a well respected boutique firm that occupies a very niche market. It would include a promotion and a bit of a pay raise. The management and staff seem very knowledgeable and respectable.  While they are interested in broadening their practice, I'm a little worrisome about joining a firm that seems to only really do one thing (even if they do it very well).

I would be leaving a position that i took 8 months ago. The experience here has been mediocre. The practice is diverse (good thing!) and occasionally interesting, but mostly cookie cutter. I'm perpetually finding the management and culture to be a drag. High levels of micromanagement and a lack creative encouragement.

At one point I was sure I wanted to make the switch, but lately I've been continually second guessing myself adding pressure to the decision... Any advice here would be much appreciated!

Oct 23, 19 12:36 pm

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I would personally be cautious about getting into a niche market in general ... more so with signs pointing toward a recession of some type soon(ish). But I could also see it depending on the market itself. How well has it weathered recessions in the past? I think it would also be dependent on your position within the firm. Are you going to be easily dispensed if times get tough, or will you be able to make a case for yourself to stick around?

The firm I'm at now is probably lucky to have kept it's doors open during the last recession as they were highly (almost entirely) dependent on the housing market. I know that most people got laid off, and the people who were "lucky" to stay were forced to take pay cuts. They seem to have learned their lesson though and are now actually quite well diversified among various markets. I think it also led to some serious shakeup in the management as the partners placed blame on the firm leadership for being so narrowly focused on one market, but I don't know sure.

Curious to know, you mention that you were offered the position ... had you been looking? I suspect not, as you mentioned having just started a new position within the last year. But you also mentioned that you weren't exactly thrilled with it. Assuming they courted you, that might bode well for you in various ways.

Oct 23, 19 2:17 pm  · 

Actually, bit of a backstory here - the firm I have received the offer from gave me a previous offer that I had initially turned down to accept the position that I am in now. Once I started realizing I was unhappy, i reached back out and asked if they were interested in revisiting their previous offer, and they certainly were...

Oct 23, 19 5:04 pm  · 

How old are you? Do you have any responsibilities? Do you see the current gig as a long-term job or something you would leave anyways within a couple years?

I recommend working with and for people that are smart, capable, and treat others with respect. Doesn't matter if the firm is narrow or broad in scope. If people in a firm are engaged, than you most likely will be as well. Engagement leads to learning, learning leads to expertise, etc etc. 

Take the job. Report back in 6 months and let us know if the grass really is greener...

Oct 23, 19 2:20 pm  · 

"I recommend working with and for people that are smart, capable, and treat others with respect.

This is important and something I didn't take the time to address in my response.

Oct 23, 19 3:04 pm  · 

Yes, very good point!

Oct 23, 19 5:05 pm  · 

Would the new firm consider letting you wait until January to join them?  If you started at your current firm 8 months ago and leave now, you'll forever have a job on your resume that starts and ends in the same year (either that or you'll have to omit it and potentially leave a gap).  A job that lasts less than a year may continue to cause concern amongst prospective employers years into the future.  If you can stick it out even a few days into the new year then you can list it as "2019-2020" and that won't raise as many eyebrows.

Oct 23, 19 2:31 pm  · 
Chad Miller

I think this depends on the persons work history. If you have a lot of 'short term' employment on a resume then yes this would look bad. Having one or two 'short term' employments on a resume you where at every other firm for three plus years won't look bad. At least in my humble opinion.

Oct 23, 19 3:37 pm  · 

Counterpoint - if you left a previous job to start this current job, you can leave the short job off your resume entirely and say the previous job ended in 2019. Poof, gone.

Oct 23, 19 5:21 pm  · 
Chad Miller

Good point.

Oct 24, 19 11:24 am  · 

I was guessing based on their post history that they don't have a very long resume yet and that they've already bounced around a bit. That was based on the OP looking for advice here about first internships a few years ago, and asking for portfolio help in-between. I was thinking that there may already be other relatively short-term jobs in their past and that they're fairly entry-level and might still want to be listing all the jobs they've had in order to establish their experience level. tduds' suggestion is fine if there was another job earlier in 2019 and if the OP is comfortable leaving the 8-month job off entirely.

Oct 24, 19 12:05 pm  · 

How is the niche affected by economic cycles or technology change?

The firm in my town that only did car dealerships was always hiring until the auto industry melted down in 2008, after that not so much.   On the other hand, the place that only does dental offices always seems to do ok.

Oct 23, 19 3:03 pm  · 

Focus is a good thing, the depth acquired is transferrable. We went from lux res to other work including religious and high rise. I will say that the first high rise was a serious education.

Better quality work, more money, is there a question?

Oct 24, 19 10:06 am  · 
Featured Comment

Thanks all for the thoughts. 

On the merits of taking the path towards doing better quality work, I’ve decided to accept the position

I’ll report back in 6 months. 

Oct 25, 19 4:24 pm  · 

My advice is to always have your work sourced from multiple streams, no problem specializing but always look to diversify so you are not at the mercy of changes and cycles in the economy.

Oct 30, 19 3:27 pm  · 

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