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Christmas is closing in – does this mean recruitment is quieter?

There is a common perception with legal recruitment that as one approaches November & December there is an inevitable slow down on legal recruitment. Reasons for this tend to centre around the on-set of the public holidays and perhaps even a sense of weariness as one approaches the end of the year. Equally, January and the New Year is seen as a time when most people, having maturely reflected on their careers and desires as Turkey flies around the table, begin their job search in earnest.

With the underlying perception, job-seekers can find themselves taking their foot of the gas. However, is that perception correct or is there is disconnect between client and candidate activity?

As a legal recruiter I am acutely aware of seasonal impact on hiring and job searching. In my view, as we approach the end of the year, clients are in fact as active as ever and it is prudent to maintain the same pace in your search and not postpone things until the New Year. Potentially, everybody else is doing this which also means when you come to look for that new role you are doing so at a time when everybody else is job searching. It does no harm to be savvy around when you look thereby eliminating a chunk of your competition.

There are a number of factors that influence law firms in their hiring strategy and timing will always play a part. One only needs to review the UK 200 Annual Report released by the Lawyer which highlights the increased strength of firms with revenues increasing and profits taking a similar upward turn. Appetite to hire lawyers is there but also there is a determined mind-shift about new hires. Law Firms have suffered the pain of losing people in the most difficult of times and are now experiencing similar pain where corporate and property markets have bounced back and law firms are feverishly trying to find lawyers with relevant quality experience but finding a huge shortage. Law firms are more focussed on the trying to provide the right kind of experience and working environment not only to attract talent but (more importantly) to retain it.

Often legal roles that are active in November and December are business critical. If they were not, chances are law firms would leave things until January. In being business critical, it means the firm is fully committed to the legal recruitment process and is looking to move quickly and decisively.

Furthermore, timing can play a part around recruitment budget. Whilst part way through the second half of the financial year, firms will have allocated recruitment budget and will wish to ensure that they fully utilise it (if the demand is there) in addition to ensuring they maintain headcount and continue the push for growth. Leaving recruitment until late in the financial year runs the risk that the budget is lost and/or the legal recruitment process is slowed down as further approval is required to take into account the next fiscal year.

Logically, as solicitors can find there is more of decline in instructions towards Christmas (that is, of course, not the same for everyone), this allows lawyers and partners the chance to be more focussed on department strategy and the recruitment process.

In short, law firms in Manchester remain active and keen to grow. Roles exist around corporate, commercial property and construction as well as niches areas like tax and pensions. The market is busy and the doors are open. November and December may attract more in the way of parties, awards and general frivolity but it remains an active time for recruitment. Reflection on your next move over the Christmas dinner table can often be too late. Fashionably late to the party is one thing but getting the date wrong and missing is something else altogether.

If you are thinking of your next move and would like a confidential discussion around your experience, activity in your discipline and/or the local market generally please give Paul Warburton a call or visit our website BCL Legal.

 

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