While the weather and the job market are starting to cool, hiring is likely to remain a challenge for law firms and other employers in the months ahead. With new jobs still averaging just under the 200,000 a month mark, the job market still favors workers. Additionally, even if some of them are ready to make a move, they may be waiting until after they’ve received their annual bonus to start looking for new employment. Where does this leave law firms looking to hire? We have some advice for hiring top legal technology talent in the current hiring market:
1. Offer a Sign on Bonus
When it comes to combatting a prospective employee waiting on their end-of-year bonus, the most direct tactic is to offer a comparable sign-on bonus. Advertise this perk in your job description and make it clear if there is any waiting period before your new hire will receive all or part of it. If you are dealing with a candidate who usually receives a year-end bonus, paying at least some of a sign-on bonus can be particularly helpful. This tactic could help put job seekers over the edge if they’re on the fence about leaving their current role before receiving their bonus.
2. Compete with Compensation
Recent research shows that your job postings will attract fewer candidates if you don’t include a salary that meets their expectations. Make sure the pay you’re offering is aligned with the market value for legal technology employees and be as upfront as possible about what future pay and bonuses could be for a new hire.
3. Leverage your Employees
Think of ways that your employees can promote your firm on social media or your website. Written or video testimonials on your careers page and social media platforms can help prospective employees feel comfortable and knowledgeable about what it would be like to work on your technology team at your law firm.
4. Recruit with Respect for Effort and Time
Nothing makes a job seeker’s view of your law firm sour like a slow hiring process—except maybe a huge demand on their time. Hiring the right fit is important and sometimes you need several opinions to nail down the perfect person to join your law firm’s technology team. But you actually might have a better chance of hiring your ideal candidate if you can move swiftly and not require too much of their time. Three rounds of interviews spread over several months, with homework or testing besides, will not endear you to anyone. Try to schedule all of your rounds of interviews, with all your stakeholders involved, as close together as possible so that you can keep the process moving and turn around an offer quickly. Be sure to also communicate well with all the candidates you interview, not just your top pick; you may want to hire one of them later and it protects your reputation to be respectful to everyone who has given you their time and effort in interviews.
5. Change Your Wish List
We’ve often advised our clients that hiring for potential is better than leaving a seat empty while they wait for their unicorn candidate. As you draft your job description and train your interviewers on how to approach your potential hire, create a short wish list that contains only the things that are truly critical to the role and the success of your law firm’s technical team. Your list of nice-to-haves can be long, but make sure everyone knows that they are just that—pluses, but not requirements for your new hire. Include questions in your interview process that help you identify potential: How does she learn? How would he approach a challenging scenario? What does she do when she isn’t sure how to do something? What does he expect from his company when it comes to growth and development?
6. Offer Flexibility and Autonomy
The employees’ desire for flexibility and autonomy, cultivated during the pandemic, isn’t going anywhere. People still want to work remotely (for many, as much as possible) but even more so, they want flexible work hours and control over how they spend their day. Their unlikely to want to join or stay at a law firm that requires their physical presence daily for a set of standard hours. Instead, they want to be trusted by you to get their work done efficiently and effectively, and ideally, without a daily commute. This flexibility often also means a healthy work-life balance which has become ever more important in recent years.
7. Make Diversity A Priority
Prioritizing diversity at your law firm at all levels of leadership has three main advantages when it comes to hiring. First, it widens your talent pool. In prioritizing diversity in your hiring process, you might interview candidates you wouldn’t consider otherwise. Maybe they don’t have the exact education or career background of your usual hires, but that means they can bring something fresh and new to the table. Second, it makes you more desirable to Gen Z hires—and to a slightly lesser degree, Millennials—who desire a workplace that values people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders. They want to see this diversity during the interview process, so having diversity within your higher-level and interviewer roles is essential for securing this demographic. Lastly, diversity within your decision-makers when it comes to hiring and business decisions creates better outcomes. It helps you avoid hiring for a false concept of “culture fit” that is actually just sameness. A diverse team creates a diverse team.
8. Focus on Professional Development
Your employees and potential new hires want to work at a firm that isn’t going to churn and burn, but rather at one that will invest in their employees’ growth and development. They’re looking for mentorship, clear professional development paths with objectives they can hit, and a technology manager who cares about their individual success. These are not difficult practices to put in place, but they do require intentionality and good managerial training.
9. Offer Distinctive Perks & Benefits
If you want to secure the best and potentially convince someone to make the leap before they receive their annual bonus, offering unique benefits and perks that employees actually want can be highly effective. And what they actually want isn’t free lunches. It’s usually compensatory in some way—bonuses, profit sharing, fully paid health care premiums (for the whole family), wellness rewards programs, free or discounted on-site childcare. Think outside the box, but make sure you aren’t just focusing on what you think employees might find “fun” but rather on what practical needs can you meet to help you stand out from your hiring competitors.
While it may still be a job-seekers hiring market, there are plenty of ways law firms can work smarter, not harder when it comes to hiring. If you’re finding that you’re losing top candidates, not getting great resumes, or otherwise having trouble growing your team, go over these ideas with a committee or your HR team and identify which things are doable for your firm. You can also talk with one of our seasoned account managers for more personalized advice for hiring legal technology professionals in this market and how we can best leverage what you offer while we recruit for you.