Sometimes, when you're conducting an attorney search to bring new talent into your law firm or corporate legal department, it can seem like the process is taking forever. By the time everyone involved has gone through the resumes and chosen candidates for further evaluation, it's been a few weeks, and it might be another couple before you can get your top choices in for an interview.
You might tell yourself that it's normal, that you need to take your time when you're looking for a new employee. And of course, it's not a good idea to rush through your attorney search process and end up with a lawyer who's not suitable for your firm. But taking too long with your hiring process can have consequences, as well.
Why? For starters, your other attorneys and legal assistants are taking on extra work to make up for the hole on your staff. If they have to keep it up for too long, the stress could cause burnout. In addition, you could miss out on the most in-demand candidates. They often field multiple offers, and if you stretch your process out, those candidates could sign up with another firm before you even get an offer on the table.
So it just makes sense to have a well-tuned attorney search process. Here are some ways to make yours more efficient:
Write a great job posting. The job ad will provide the criteria candidates use to decide whether or not they should apply for the position, so it's crucial to make sure it accurately describes the job responsibilities and qualifications, as well as the workplace culture. If you attract the right people for the job and deter the ones who aren't qualified, you won't have to spend as much time sifting through resumes to find candidates you want to interview.
Clearly define your candidate evaluation criteria. Before resumes even come in, establish a protocol for assessing applicants. That means making a list of the characteristics of ideal candidates, including qualifications for the job, educational requirements and attributes that are critical to high performance in the position. (These should be the same as, or align very closely with, what you listed in the job posting.)
When you're focused on exactly what you're looking for, you can efficiently scan and evaluate resumes based on that list, and you can invite top applicants in for interviews more quickly. Having a list of specific criteria also ensures that everyone who has a say in the hiring decision is on the same page with respect to what kind of candidate is most likely to succeed in the position.
Prepare for each interview. When you go into an interview unprepared, you run the risk of wasting everyone's time with unfocused questions that won't help you properly assess the candidate. Before each applicant arrives, re-read the hiring criteria. Then, review the candidate's resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and whatever else he or she's submitted.
Make notes about anything that needs clarification. Bring those notes with you, along with a list of general questions you intend to ask and a basic schedule for the interview that will keep you on course. The goal is to get the information you need to make a decision as efficiently as possible.
Anchor yourself to the evaluation criteria when it's time to select a candidate. When it's time to make a hiring decision, go back to that list of the hiring criteria you prepared for the job ad. Then, look at the list and assess how well each applicant fits those desired qualifications. If you stay disciplined when making your final selection, you'll come to a decision more quickly. What's more, you'll be more likely to avoid the halo effect, select the right candidate and make a timely offer that's accepted.
When you're going through an attorney search, organization and focus are critical. A good legal recruiter can help you hone your process – or even take it over for you. And for a busy law firm down one attorney, that might be the most efficient option of all.