In the current hiring market, what can employers in the legal field do to improve the candidate experience and engage top hires?
In today’s highly competitive market for legal talent, employers need to make their best effort to engage in-demand candidates throughout the hiring process and provide them with compelling reasons to join their team. We asked Robert Half talent directors and managers the above question to get their insight on how legal employers can enhance the candidate experience in the hiring process today and increase their chances of securing top candidates.
Based on their responses, here are five top tips for employers in the legal field:
- Minimize the wait time between interviews
- Focus on a candidate’s aptitude
- Engage in and promote the success of team activities
- Offer a flexible work environment
- Provide standout perks and bonuses
1. Minimize the wait time between interviews
By reducing the time candidates must wait between job interviews, employers in the legal field will be better positioned to hire their top picks. Allowing too much time to elapse between interviews creates doubt in a candidate’s mind that the employer is truly interested. Meanwhile, candidates will continue to actively interview and increase their prospects and bargaining power, and they will be less likely to accept an offer from a slower-moving company.
Employers with a more efficient and streamlined interview process will have a competitive advantage. A swift, efficient hiring process is more likely to hold a candidate’s interest and keep them feeling engaged, increasing the likelihood that they will accept an offer.
Andrew McNaughtan, director
2. Focus on a candidate’s aptitude
2022 has proven to be a candidate-centric hiring market, with legal candidates seeing unprecedented opportunities to change practice areas or seek more flexibility. Many job seekers are fielding multiple offers.
In such a tight labor market, finding a candidate whose skills and experience align precisely with the job description is nearly impossible. The law firms and corporate legal departments that have been successful in staffing their open positions are hiring candidates based on their aptitude, stability presented in their resume, new skills acquired in previous positions and professional references.
If employers hire based on aptitude and interview candidates with 70% of the skills needed for the position, it’s a win-win for both the employer and the candidate. The employer will staff their opening in an expeditious manner, and the candidate will acquire a new job and new knowledge. These candidates appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow, and they’ll be more likely to stay with the employer for the long term.
Samantha Graham, director of permanent placement
3. Engage in and promote the success of team activities
I am currently working with a law firm client who provides a team breakfast and lunch on separate days each week. Managers, new hires and tenured employees set aside this time to come together to share a meal and get to know each other. I have three candidates already working at this firm, and they cannot say enough about how much it has meant as new employees to have these interactions with their colleagues on a weekly basis!
As I continue to recruit for additional openings with this law firm, I am able to share this feedback, and it really generates interest with top candidates. I’ve had three more candidates accept offers, and they can’t wait to start with this supportive and engaging law firm!
Michelle Chinn, practice director
4. Offer a flexible work environment
When we think about employment in the legal field in the future, employers will have to be more open to offering remote and hybrid work. With so many other firms and companies moving toward a flexible work environment, top candidates have options.
More often than not, professionals will choose an employer with remote flexibility over a higher range in pay. Giving flexible work options also showcases an employer in the legal profession as empathetic toward work-life balance.
For the talent of tomorrow, remote flexibility will not be an exception but the rule!
Melissa Hopko, senior talent manager
5. Provide standout perks and benefits
With remote work opening the door to opportunities across the country and around the globe, hiring talent in the legal field is more competitive than ever. This is leading to many more offers and counteroffers to candidates. We’ve noticed that the clients that move quickly in the hiring process, hold limited rounds of interviews, and offer near-instant feedback are having more success in obtaining new talent for their teams.
Legal employers are also winning applicants with standout perks. Of course, there is the remote work aspect, but stipends, signing bonuses, wellness days and other perks can also greatly affect a candidate’s decision to accept an offer. Providing an exciting array of perks and bonuses as part of a legal job offer can go a long way toward securing the best attorneys and paralegals today.
Just be sure to move fast because if you don’t, someone else will!
Samir Metovic, talent director
Bonus tip: Move fast to hire!
The market remains candidate-centered, so employers need to focus on speed when it comes to hiring. Drawn-out processes, multiple interviews or long compliance procedures can leave candidates feeling weary, and sometimes, tempted to take a position with a faster-moving organization.
Employers: If you want to secure your top candidate for the position, move fast! If you like them, chances are another company will, too.
Melanie Kent, practice director and vice president
Robert Half recruiters (top row, from left): Michelle Chinn and Samantha Graham; (bottom row, from left): Andrew McNaughtan, Melanie Kent, Melissa Hopko and Samir Metovic.
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