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The talent drought in the legal sector is forcing firms to rethink their recruitment strategies fast. Candidate expectations have changed dramatically, and traditional hiring practices are no longer enough–-especially with the rise of challenger law firms in the market, winning staff away from more traditional firms with a consultancy model that lets them choose how and where they work.
To attract and retain top talent in this climate, legal firms must address five key considerations:
1. Prioritise the recruitment process
Candidate experience during the recruitment process matters. It’s your firm’s chance to make a first impression. A long-drawn-out recruitment process, in a market where any good candidate will have multiple offers to consider, will mean you lose your chosen candidates to the competition.
However, the post-pandemic changes that created the problem have also created a solution. People have become far more comfortable with video communication, and holding initial interviews online can be a great time-saver, especially as they can be recorded for any colleagues who are unable to attend.
Having said that, do think ahead about who needs to be involved in the hiring process and try to make sure they can all be there for CV reviews, interviews and offers. This allows you to provide timely feedback for candidates and keep the process moving fast. It’s also best to minimise the number of interviews for the same reason, and to make a decisive and competitive offer when you find your chosen candidate. The offer and negotiation stage is key; in the current market, it’s vital to make your best offer up front, as attempts to haggle may lose you the candidate.
2. Stay open-minded
When everyone is fighting over the same talent, the firm that spreads its net widest wins. Be flexible with your brief and think about where you could compromise, such as taking on a slightly less experienced candidate who can grow into the role. Providing growth opportunities will also boost your employee retention, and more diverse hiring will bring in fresh perspectives that will give you a competitive advantage.
3. Offer flexibility
Remote and flexible working have moved from nice-to-haves to must-haves. Most candidates won’t look at you if you don’t offer some flexibility, and many are choosing smaller firms that offer a good work-life balance over higher-paid roles at big ‘city’ firms. Studies have found that people can be just as productive when working from home, and offering more home working also means you have access to a wider pool of candidates, not just those who live close enough to commute five days a week.
4. Sell yourself
In a candidate-short market, candidates interview you. You need to sell the role and the company as much as you assess them. Remember that they’re likely to have more than one offer on the table, so leave them in no doubt as to why they should choose you. Communicating your company culture clearly is key here, as today’s candidates are looking for roles that align with their values and give them a sense of purpose.
5. Consider short-term support
Time to hire can be uncomfortably long in a candidate-short market, and if you add in the fact that many lawyers have a three-month notice period, you could be looking at an empty desk for three more months after you’ve found the right person, impacting your client deadlines and revenue. Consider using a locum solicitor to plug the gap and keep your projects rolling while you look for someone permanent.
Law firms must adapt to the new landscape in order to attract and retain the top talent. If you’d like some specialist advice on your legal recruitment needs from experts in the field, get in touch today for a no-obligation chat.