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During a recent internal training session a number of my fellow consultants and I paused for thought to consider what our clients perceptions were of what we do and what frustrations we felt during the recruitment process (yes, we do have feelings) together with what we could do to overcome some of those preconceptions.
The sensible concensus seemed to be that it all comes down to building rapport and trust.
Like with any commercial relationship, that can take time and we will always be judged on our performance and value that we can add. The reality is that much of the added value often goes unseen and, no doubt to our detriment, is perhaps not something we shout enough about. Fundamentally it comes down to the personal investment that consultants make in their market.
But what does that consist of? Whilst appreciating that it is not on par with deep theoretical physics, our roles necessitate handling, managing and being able to recall and deliver information (at least in our case) with a surprising amount of precision. To acquire that information (from market trends, partner and team profiles, culture, candidates’ personalities, abilities and work/life requirements to name but a few) takes a serious investment of time and is on-going. What that investment looks like will differ but on my part it represents substantive interaction with as many people as possible. With only so many hours in the day that isn’t easy (not that I am seeking sympathy) and encompasses meeting with candidates and clients. Given the number of partners, firms (recent consolidation aside) and lawyers in Manchester that is a pretty big number.
Often firms engagement with legal recruiters can be a pretty brisk affair and takes the form of “this is our requirement, send me some CV’s”. With an already established relationship sometimes that is all that is required as we will already have a clear understanding of the kind of candidates that you are looking for but even then it can sometimes miss the additional value that comes from engaging with us at the outset. Given the number of firms and candidates that we work with, we will have a fairly good understanding on the kind of candidates that are in the market and what you can expect to see. For example, in the current market that has meant a relative shortage of 2-3 year qualified corporate solicitors. It does not mean that they do not exist but rather they will be in short supply. That simple information alone, known at the outset, can give rise to far wider thinking about the kind of candidates that could be considered for the role and an increased likelihood of filling the role within a better timescale. Once minds are made up on levels and backgrounds they become hard to change and elongated and time-consuming processes can ensue.
Our aim is not short-term gain. It is not our desire to place a candidate that lasts a short period of time and moves on. I for one am about the long term and seeing people that I place do well so that they ultimately progress within a business, grow and come back to me to tell me they are now looking for someone to add to the roster. Equally I want the firms I work with to feel that they have had value and that the success of the people I place is a reflection on the quality of service I deliver. Therein lies my job satisfaction.
As with all things in life you reap the rewards from the effort you put in, however small. Engagement with partners is key and really isn’t that time consuming. In the market place, we are your advocates and the information we have is always better sourced directly rather than anecdotally and recruitment processes are always more successful and smoother where we are involved from the outset and on an on-going basis. Contrary to popular belief, in seeking to meet with partners, it is not always about trying to extricate a new role but to also keep on top of how a team is doing, what the strategy may be and any areas where we may be able to assist (not always does this come down to providing candidates). It is also a great means which allows us to think laterally around senior candidates and prospects that may be left of field but have sufficient synergy to rouse interest.
Often those meetings are not centred around on-going recruitment and as a consequence (by some) are not seen to be of importance. I would beg to differ. Of course, that does not preclude the need for full engagement during the recruitment process. Our aim is to be open and honest with you about our candidates, what they are looking for and areas that can and should be addressed to ensure they are able to make a full reasoned decisions concerning a potentially life changing decision on their part. Sometimes that can be overlooked and assumptions made which can prove to be the downfall. We remain committed to asking tough questions of our candidates to understand fully what they are looking for in order to match their requirements. It is only fair that we have a similar open relationship with our clients and ultimately that is what we strive for.
In my experience it is the difference between a lucky recruitment and a continuous sustained quality recruitment relationship.