Throughout 2018 I have frequently been asked this. We have seen an increasing number of jobs registered and fewer candidates on the market. But why is this happening? The obvious reason is the economy. However, despite the doom and gloom over Brexit and a potential no-deal, we actually aren’t seeing signs of slow down with firms being stretched and work volumes and client instructions increasing. In fact, most firms are recruiting in transactional disciplines and have multiple vacancies in departments.
The truth is that during the recession, firms deferred and/or reduced the number of training contracts they offered. This coupled with far lower NQ retention rates has now led to there being an acute shortage of Solicitors in a busy market which makes it very difficult to recruit in. So right now hiring is actually in the hands of the candidates.
So how do we advise firms?
First and foremost, look at your own staff retention. Pay your employees what they are worth. If you’re not sure what this is, please contact us for a copy of our salary survey.
Talk to your employees and see what matters to them. Flexible/agile working remains a hot topic and one which candidates often discuss with us when registering. This is key at all levels, from millennials looking to work in different ways to individuals looking for agile working due to childcare commitments. Remember it isn’t just working parents that want a work/life balance and flexibility. Lots of people have commitments that conflict with traditional working hours, such as healthcare appointments, household repairs and volunteer/charity work.
For Partners looking to recruit, we know you are busy but remember your target candidates are busy too. Where we are seeing great recruitment success stories are through a combination of these factors:
Make time for interviews – offer out of hours appointments and informal coffees rather than a formal interview. Have a transparent interview process from the start. Tell us how many stages there will be, the format and whether there are tests. The more information we can give to candidates, the easier it is for them to visualise the process and timescales involved.
CVs – depending on level of PQE, these are not as necessary as they used to be. Most candidates have profiles on their firm’s website and LinkedIn that give a comprehensive overview of their skills, experience and specialties. If an individual is dipping their toe in the water to see what is out there and exploring options, opposed to conducting a full on search, it is very likely they won’t have had chance to prepare a CV. So don’t discredit them without this.
Salary – offer the best salary you can rather than spending days negotiating this and losing the initial impetus of the best package you can.
Team fit – it is important for candidates to meet the team and see what people are like. If you’re recruiting for longevity, you want to make sure your team gets along and personalities don’t clash.
Job description – a job spec goes a long way to get candidates to apply to a firm. In the current market, an individual in a sought after discipline has numerous jobs to consider and are selective as to which firms they decide to go forward to. On multiple occasions I’ve seen candidates say no to applying to a firm without a job spec as they don’t know exactly what the vacancy is/there is a perception that firms don’t have budget sign off or commitment to recruiting.
Help us to help you – we need to know why you are the best place to work, who your clients are, team structure, flexible working opportunities and promotion prospects. We need to know you. We can’t sell you properly if we don’t have this information.
Finally, work with us throughout the entire recruitment process – it doesn’t end once the contract has been signed. Once an individual has accepted a role, as their soon-to-be new employer, keep in touch with them through social meet ups with the team, emails and calls informing them of events they are invited to etc. Make them feel part of the firm before their employment begins.
If you have any questions as to how we can better help you, or what our consultancy services look like, please don't hesitate to reach out. Our consultants are always on hand to give advice on the market and offer bespoke solutions for clients and candidates alike.
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