HOW TO STAND OUT WHEN COMPETING FOR THE BEST CANDIDATES
In the international and offshore markets, it is commonplace for the best candidates to be speaking with at least two or three law firms, and in many cases harvesting offers from each of them. When competing with firms of a similar calibre, with similar salaries, how do you maximise your chances of this sought-after person joining you?
Contrary to popular opinion, candidates with multiple offers do not always take the highest salary, join the biggest firm or accept the first offer. Where packages are similar and firms are of a roughly comparable standing, decisions invariably come down to the finer points, the intangibles even. Explaining their decision, the most common response will be some form of “I really clicked with the people there”, “I just get a good feeling” or perhaps “it feels like a great team and a great career opportunity.” The common factor is almost always, how they were made to feel in the process.
Here we outline some of our thoughts on what you can do to give yourself an edge in a close-run contest:
START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON.
Your dream candidate might be obvious from the start, but they might just as likely shine through after an interview or two. When you decide that someone is worth seeing, aim to treat them like they are ‘the one’ from the beginning. Lengthy waits for feedback, frequently rearranged interviews, senior people not attending at the last minute, are all perfectly understandable in a busy environment, but can contribute to a sense that the hire is not that important. If someone else has been wooing them from the start, it might just be too late by the time you realise that you do want them.
CONSIDER YOUR PROCESS
Think carefully about who is involved in interviewing and how you include things like assessments. Asking juniors to complete a test before a first interview is unlikely to be a problem but it might well upset a more experienced applicant. Choosing a Rottweiler of a Partner for the first interview might test an applicant’s mettle but might also put them off from day one. Asking someone back multiple times to answer the same questions can create interview fatigue. Structure your process correctly and you should get all the information you need without the risk of alienating a potential hire.
PAINT A PICTURE
Many of us are risk averse and moving jobs can be a wrench. The more you show what life will be like, the more a candidate will begin to visualise themselves as a part of your team. Think about cultural considerations, but how they impact in reality (not soundbites); what time do people leave the office? do your lawyers socialise together? Think also about the professional side; how do new lawyers find your firm is different? do they get a high level of client contact or work closely with Partners? Introduce candidates to Associates at a similar level, who can paint them a real-life picture.
Be decisive, act quickly and maintain open communications. If the steps above have been followed the candidate is likely to have a strong interest in your role at this point. Find out from your recruiter what the candidate is thinking, and what they believe will influence the decision. Make your offer, preferably a good one, but make it alongside a clear explanation about why you think they are perfect for you and vice versa. This is also an ideal time to have a less formal chat on the telephone to address any queries or concerns outside of the pressure that an interview process creates.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR RECRUITER.
A good recruitment consultant should have interviewed a candidate at some length before putting them forward for a job. Part of this interview process should have focused on what motivates the candidate, what things are likely to be important to them in accepting a new job. This is invaluable information in a competitive market. Find out what makes them tick – money, career progression, friendly culture, quality of work - and you can tailor your interview process to make sure you are giving the applicant all the information they need to make the right decision.
SHOW WHAT THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE.
Firms can be reluctant to discuss a clear career path for fear of making promises that can’t be kept, but showing how lawyers are measured, what the expectations will be, and what career progression will look like for someone who is successful could be vital. This needn’t necessarily always be a discussion about job titles either, it could be about the types of deal/case that they can expect to be involved in, the potential for involvement in big marketing events or business development trips, or the opportunity to begin mentoring more junior lawyers or trainees.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
We hope that our thoughts on this key international recruitment issue are of interest. If you have other tips or methods that you have found to be successful, please do share and we will include as we update this advice.