We are currently working with a leading law firm, which is looking to recruit a senior business support professional who will play a key role within the business. The process has just entered its eight month, with no end in sight.

Sadly this is becoming a theme in the legal sector. We know of many firms who are caught in protracted recruitment processes which, one can assume, are only having a negative effect on their businesses.

So what is going wrong? Is it because there is a lack of good, high calibre candidates in the market? Well undoubtedly this is true. But actually the main reason for these problems is a flawed recruitment ‘process’.

Tips for success

We do understand that there are many factors that affect recruitment, some of which cannot be helped. There are some easy steps firms can take, however, which could significantly improve the process and ultimately make it a lot easier.

  1. It is so important from the outset to have a clear understanding, with buy in from all the relevant parties, as to what the person and the role is going to be. A clear, descriptive job description is essential as are the competencies required to do the role. Knowing the salary and benefits budget allocated to the role is also essential at this point.
  2. Make sure you decide early on how you want to go about recruiting the role. If you decide to use a recruitment agency make sure you choose the best one or two, which you feel confident are going to provide you with the best service. Whilst there are some poor recruiters in the market, there are also some very good ones. These recruiters will want to build a relationship with you to understand your requirements so that they can send you the details of the most suitable candidates.

    Be aware that the more recruiters you use, the more CVs you are likely to get. This probably sounds like a good thing, but the likelihood is that if you are using a lot of recruiters not all of them will have a good understanding of what you want. The quality of the CVs you receive will, therefore, not be as good.
  3. Assuming that the role has been scoped out properly, when candidate profiles start to come in it should be obvious who should be interviewed and who shouldn’t. Make sure that you listen to your recruiters (particularly if you have a good relationship with them) as they will be able to offer advice on the candidates they send through. Remember that there are occasions where a candidate’s CV may not match their suitability for the role – some people have made mistakes in their careers or do not fit neatly into ‘boxes’ but for many reasons might be worth meeting. The converse is also true.
  4. Ensure that the interview process is mapped out so that it doesn’t become too protracted. Many firms ‘block’ out times in diaries at the very start of the process to avoid this situation.
  5. Ensure that all the people who are involved in the interview process are properly briefed, both on the job role and also on any previous meetings the candidate has had. It is important that the same people are involved in interviewing all the candidates for a particular role, so that there is a genuine ability to compare views. If there are a lot of people involved in the interview process, it is unlikely that everyone will always agree on a candidate. Determine what criteria or views will carry more ‘weight’ than others.
  6. Always give feedback – either to your recruiter or to the candidate if you are recruiting directly. Candidates invest a lot of time and energy in finding a role and we have countless examples of firms not giving constructive, or even any feedback. People talk and firms do get reputations on how they recruit.
  7. Talk to the recruiter from the outset regarding salary expectations to make sure that after going through this process there are no nasty surprises. If possible, always try to offer what the candidate is looking for.
  8. If a verbal offer is given and accepted then make sure an offer and contract is sent out immediately.

It seems very straightforward, and there are many firms we work with where it is. The bottom line is that there are good candidates in the market who will get offers. If you feel that you are missing out on them, even if you are the best law firm in the world, it may be worth looking at your recruitment process.

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