Working with the right legal search firm should not only ensure that you find great attorney candidates, but should also mean developing a long term relationship that builds on itself and gets easier and more fulfilling with time. The right recruiting firm will take the time to get to know you and your company, will tailor their search style to work with you and will keep you on track as you move through the hiring process.
Working with a legal recruiter is, in this respect, similar to working with a personal trainer or a financial planner. You know what you need to do, and you may even have some ideas about how to do it, but you still don’t get the same results on your own that you do when working with a high quality professional.
Below are some tips on how to effectively work with a search firm:
- Knowledge is Power: Your search firm needs to have all the important facts regarding your company/firm and the position you are trying to fill. This information includes:
- Corporate history – any details not readily available to the public about your firm/corporation are helpful. Not only do candidates appreciate knowing the background information, but a recruiter who has insight will be better able to engage high quality candidates in a conversation about your opportunity.
- Compensation – to the extent possible, a realistic and detailed compensation range should be determined and communicated to your recruiting firm at the onset of a search. Be honest about how much “wiggle room” (if any) there is with respect to compensation for this position. Candidates will also want information about health benefits, FSA, 401k or any other benefits your company may provide, particularly if your organization provides unusually generous benefits. Moreover, if the compensation for this position includes some form of equity, this should be discussed as well.
- Psychological/drug testing – does your organization require a personality assessment or drug test as part of the hiring process? Candidates appreciate advance notice about any testing, and the mere mention of these requirements may weed out candidates who are unwilling to undergo such tests.
- Office configuration – in today’s corporate environment, offices can take many forms. If an attorney candidate will not have a standard office set-up, let your search firm know this in advance. Perhaps a candidate who is uncomfortable with a cubicle is not the best fit for your corporate culture.
- Corporate culture – speak with your search firm honestly about your corporate culture/personality. What types of people have worked out best? Have there been hires that did not work out? Are there any particularly difficult personalities within your organization? Letting your search firm know what to expect will not only help in the recruiting process, but will also help address any rumors or “word on the street” type concerns that candidates may have. Armed with this information, your recruiter will be able to better vet each candidate.
- Business attire – what is the dress code at your organization? While dressing professionally for an interview is always advisable, candidates will appreciate knowing what their interviewers may be wearing, and what to expect moving forward.
- Communication/Honesty: As in any relationship, communication is key. Honestly communicating feedback on candidates is essential. Think of your search firm as your filter – tell us everything and we can figure out how to present it to candidates. Also, make sure your recruiter knows how you prefer to communicate – are you an email junkie? Do you prefer phone calls? Would you like to set up periodic meetings and talk in person?
- Manage Expectations: Your search firm should be very direct with you about what you can expect from them, and you should feel free to be direct about your expectations. Be clear about your timeframe, the resources you are and are not willing to dedicate to a search, and what you hope to see in potential candidates. Combined with honest and open communication, clear expectations make the search process a much smoother one.
- Taking Advice: A good search firm will not only recruit candidates on your behalf, but will also share with you what they’ve learned about candidate habits/tendencies, compensation trends, the interview process and the industry as a whole. An experienced recruiter has likely seen much success, but also some failures, in his/her tenure in the profession. Listen to your search firm’s advice regarding the interview process, salary ranges, or how to handle a candidate that has multiple offers.
When you take the time to select the right search firm and establish a strong working relationship, the results will speak for themselves!