'We know you’re not actively looking, but go for a coffee anyway' - why an informal interview is a good idea

Posted on 14/11/2018 by Kelly Reid

At just over 4%, unemployment is at its lowest level in nearly 50 years. With everyone already in work, the majority of the people we deal with at Realm are passive candidates. According to LinkedIn, 62% of people who moved jobs in the last 12 months were non-active jobseekers who secured a move after networking or engaging with a specialist recruiter.

Interestingly, within the legal profession, there’s a candidate shortage within a number of practice areas. Over the last couple of years, there has been a real shift in power balance; across the board, the power is back in the hands of the candidates.

At the same time, many law firms are looking to grow and diversify, and are often competing over the same candidates who they hope will help them do so. Because candidates are increasingly in demand, firms are realising that they need to be more pragmatic in their approach in order to capture the interest of talented, yet passive lawyers.

Many of the regional and national firms that I work with are no longer relying entirely on the traditional process of the formal interview, and are increasingly inviting promising candidates to go for an initial informal chat over a coffee. At Realm, we are seeing more and more candidates who are opening themselves up to opportunity, meeting firms informally and being rewarded.

When I speak to lawyers, they are often happy in their current role, but I always ask the question: “But could you be happier?”  While many are content where they are and reluctant to explore other opportunities, often those that take the plunge and meet with another firm, come out quite pleasantly surprised and interested in pursuing the role at hand.

Meeting another firm or a specialist recruiter in a more relaxed setting gives you the opportunity to test the waters and get a feel for the opportunities more widely on offer. This approach is especially useful for those at senior /partner level, who may have been at their firms for a number of years and have no particular interest in applying for a job, as it were. Increasingly, lawyers who are open-minded about their careers and potential opportunities are reaping the benefits. Across the board, we are seeing candidates taking the plunge, exploring the market and ultimately, securing roles that tick more of the boxes for them, whether that be in terms of salary, work-life balance or the variety of work on offer.

I recently helped a senior associate who had been happily settled, move to a firm that gave her the flexibility she had been looking for, along with a £10,000+ pay rise. Earlier this year, we helped an NQ solicitor make a move to a new practice area and secure a pay increase, following an informal conversation.

The days of the job advert are potentially coming to an end and not every career move results from an advertised vacancy. Partnering up with a recruiter at the beginning of your career will ensure that you are kept informed of the opportunities on offer and contacted when your dream role becomes available.

Even if you’re not interested in moving immediately, at Realm, we can provide you with an insight into the state of the market and offer confidential, impartial advice on your career.

If you decide to take things one step further, we can put you in touch with prospective firms who might be able to offer you your perfect position.  To get in touch contact me, Kelly Reid, on 03300 245 606 or email Kelly.reid@realmrecruit.com  

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