Getting Ahead as an Employer in Today’s Competitive Job Market

Posted on 26/3/2019 by Duane Cormell

Back in November of last year, I wrote a blog about the issue of employee attraction and retention within the legal profession. I suggested that it would almost certainly be on the list of most managing partners’ three biggest challenges facing their firm and that this trend would likely continue into 2019. As such, this was my starting point when I was recently lucky enough to speak at the inaugural McCrum Consulting Annual Conference, where I gave managing partners, CEOs and financial directors the ‘inside track’ on why lawyers stay with a firm or pick up the phone to recruiters.

I needn’t cover too much the same ground that I covered in my November blog but, the legal recruitment landscape has changed massively since I started recruiting lawyers back in 2010. Back in 2010, I’d receive a significant quantity of email applications every day from lawyers who were well-qualified, experienced and, importantly, were very actively looking for a new job. Whereas now I tend to have to proactively pursue such lawyers and network with them over a period of time before they generally consider making a job application. In essence, most lawyers are less active as jobseekers; although most have one eye firmly fixed on their career, they tend to take a more passive approach to moving roles. I could talk at length as to why this is but, I’m more interested in looking at the impact this shift has had on lawyers’ attitude and priorities when it comes to considering a move.

In the weeks leading up to my talk, here at Realm, we conducted a survey of lawyers, from which we analysed the results of a 100 lawyer cross-section, broadly representative of the profession’s generational make-up. We asked them ‘even if you are happy in your current job, what would pique your interest in a potential job opportunity?’ More money was the most popular response, with 90% choosing it, and then with 60%, flexibility was the second most popular response. Factors such as a better commute, more interesting work, and better promotion prospects were chosen by about 45%, and then a more prestigious firm, a better job title, and better job security got were selected by around 30%.

I think the results suggest a complex picture. Although more money scored so highly, the fact that a plethora of other factors were selected by a significant number of respondents perhaps suggests that more money is little more than a prerequisite and firms need to think about their proposition to current and prospective employees more broadly in order to ensure that they’re able to appeal to a broad range of people.

When working with any lawyer who is considering making a move, we always work hard here at Realm to manage their expectations and prioritise during their job search. Nonetheless, in what is a highly competitive market, would-be-jobseekers can be increasingly discerning. With that in mind, I made three fundamental suggestions to those in attendance:

1.      Holistically develop your employer brand

Try to develop a proposition that hinges strongly on one or two particular strengths (e.g. above market rate salary bandings, flexi-time offering, market-leading work, accelerated progression prospects), whilst nonetheless pays attention to as many factors as possible that are likely to be important to employees.

2.      Invest in the recruitment process

See it as the fantastic PR opportunity that it is and align yourself with your recruiter of choice, giving them license to be your brand ambassador in the market. Also, be sure to put the time and effort in at interview stage; ensure that you get the information from the interview that you need but, be sure to also put your best foot forward and celebrate all that’s good about your firm.

3.      Be pragmatic

The market is tight and there’s lots of competition, so try not to be too rigid in your requirements and in what you can offer to tempt people to join.  For example, consider taking an experienced solicitor on a part-time basis, rather than holding out unduly for an elusive junior lawyer.

Are you looking to attract the right talent for your business?

At Realm we work with law firms across the North West, Yorkshire and the West Midlands, helping them to attract top talent and grow their teams. We can advise you how to develop your employer brand to help you stand out in today’s competitive and candidate-led market. To learn more, contact Duane Cormell on 03300 245 606 or email duane@realmrecruit.com

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