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December 2016

Using a Recruiter To Focus on What Matters: Your Attorneys

Some people love cars. My grandfather, it seems, loves tires. Every time I see him, he asks about my tires. How is the tread? What brand are they? How are they in the snow? He is sure that tires are the single most important part on the car.

My wife is an excellent cook. She meticulously scours the grocery stores and co-ops in town for the freshest organic ingredients. She makes her own spice blends. She rarely uses anything from a can and avoids all shortcuts when preparing a meal.

I love coffee. Whenever possible, I track down the best beans from the local roaster and to take home and make a great pot of coffee. Pre-bagged coffee that has been on the shelf for who-knows-how-long is something I try not to buy.

And yet, people spend money and focus on the wrong things all of the time. They demand nicer floor mats instead of better tires. They want processed food for convenience rather than cooking form scratch. They want quick pre-loaded coffee pods and fancy coffee machines rather than focusing on the only ingredients that affect the taste of coffee (beans and water). Why? Because sometimes it is easier.

Easier is fine, but what happens when we focus on what is easier/cheaper/faster for your law firm or legal department? Is ‘easier’ and ‘good enough’ what you are looking for? Probably not.

The most important parts of a law firm are the lawyers you begin with. Not the clients or the systems or the policies or even the office. Great people make everything easier. Settling for less than a targeted candidate search may be easier, but it won’t likely lead to the best candidates. Those that aren’t actively looking (“passive candidates”) will never respond to an ad. Using a recruiter is the only way to reach these candidates and make sure that you are finding the most important thing for your firm: the right attorney.

Move quickly on high-demand candidates!

While we were in the recession, legal employers had the luxury of time. There were ample candidates, and with few opportunities, firms could take their time when making hiring decisions. It seemed that no matter how long they took to extend an offer, the candidate was excited to receive it.

Fast forward a few years and the market has changed. Skilled candidates are being courted by multiple employers. Top candidates are getting multiple offers, and others are being much more selective with their decisions. As a result, firms that can’t make hiring decisions quickly and present a competitive offer in a timely fashion are losing out to firms that have sped up their hiring process.

As a result, firms and corporate legal departments should revisit their hiring process. How quickly are you responding to candidates? How long are you making them wait between interviews? When are you letting them know that you would like to extend an offer?

Even if the delay is only a few days, that can feel like an eternity to a candidate who is hearing from other firms in the meantime. A quick phone call or email with an expected timeline of the interview/hiring process can often manage a candidate’s concern that interest is waning. Also, this update may buy the firm time to extend an offer when other offers may be on the table or imminently forthcoming.

In the recruiting business, we say “time kills deals.” It seems that this is more true than ever in 2016. Remember, if you aren’t quickly moving a top candidate through your hiring process, in all likelihood, another firm may be trying to scoop them up!

Although Limited Experience, Recent Grads Can Still Make The Most Of Their Resume

We are hearing from a lot recent law school graduates lately and although the market has improved, jobs are still scarce for the majority of these folks. Creating a compelling resume can be a challenge when you do not have practical legal experience. While a law firm clerkship or interning for a judge can help, the truth is many hiring attorneys or recruiting directors do not give this much weight. So what can you do when your experience is not a big selling point? Try to make your resume stand out in other ways.

While hopefully the old school, heavy stock, colored resume paper is not coming back; you can still use some tasteful graphics to make your resume stand out. Perhaps some color headings, shading a separate column for achievements, or simply adding links to work-related social media sites would help.

A creative resume may not get you the job per se, but it may draw enough attention to move it to the top of others with similar experience so why not spend an extra few minutes and make it stand out.