For the last four years, law firms have been like children in a sweet shop when it comes to hiring new talent. With time on their side, employers could afford to labour on their decisions, meeting nearly every lawyer in the City before they eventually decided who was the chosen one.
Well, no more. There has been a volte-face and the hunters are now the hunted.
An increasing number of firms are now recruiting for numerous new jobs, yet the number of good candidates remains static. The economy is on the up, the FTSE has broken through the psychological 5,000 mark, and corporate activity is booming. In turn, most firms are hiring ferociously, as they need candidates and they need them fast.
So as an employer, how can you be in with a fighting chance of winning the precious talent you so vitally need? And how should candidates make the most of the current demand?
- Move quickly: when you see a good CV act on it straight away. If the candidate is any good they will not be around for long. You should be aiming to turn around a CV within 24 hours.
- Keep moving: maintain momentum with the recruitment process, do not let weeks pass before bringing candidates back in for a second meeting.
- Communication flow: keep recruiters/candidates informed on what is happening and give positive feedback if you like them. It will create a good impression and greater interest from the candidate.
- Tempt them: make sure your interviewers are briefed on how best to sell the role and the firm. It is not enough for the candidate to do all the selling. Drinks with the team also go down well. Find out from the recruiter what the candidate really wants and if you can deliver it, tell them.
- Pounce: if you like the candidate do not wait until the recruitment process is finished before you tell them, act upon it and make the offer.
- Make it personal: make the whole process personal to the individual. Keep in touch with them post-offer – invite them for lunch or drinks before they join. This will help counteract counter-offers and buy-backs.
- Take a step back: smart candidates will be considering whether they can see themselves in the role in five years’ time. Do you feel valued? If not, then start looking around.
- Take your time: investigate what is on offer and use the favourable market to do something exciting with your career. But do not procrastinate; the best roles go first.
- Limit communication to one or two agencies: this way you can build stronger relationships, so agencies will work harder to find the perfect job for you.
- Demand more: whether it is with your potential employer or current one, smart employees will ask for more. You are in the better bargaining position at the moment – use it.
- Hesitate: you would be wise to think carefully if you hold more than one offer. However, there is a fine line between hesitating and procrastinating – too much and potential employers will question your decision-making abilities.
- Be impersonal: you should treat it like a business deal. Explore all opportunities, negotiate hard and enjoy the fortunate position you are in.
In short, employers and candidates need to adapt to the current environment, as it will be the smartest and fittest who will get to the top of the tree.
Claire Cavanagh is a consultant on the legal assistant team at EJ Group