Recruitment within the legal sector is changing. Key factors are driving the shift towards direct sourcing and the increased use of technology. Conversations with thought leaders and key figures from within legal recruitment have cast light on factors which are effecting change in the sector.
Some of the problems targeted by firms over the last couple of years have included gender differences and the lack of diversity of new hires and trainees entering firms. It has become clear that candidate engagement is the new focus for many firms at all levels of recruitment. For more senior roles, candidates need to recognise and have a positive association with the firm’s brand and reputation.
For more junior roles, the focus has been to attract top calibre students and graduates, which translates into large volumes of applications that have to be screened fairly.
This influx of applications means that some firms have reduced their engagement with candidates, conveying a poor view of the firm. I was recently told by an experienced legal professional that firms should not concentrate on engaging the highest numbers, but instead engage those who are right for the firm and dealing politely and personally with those who have been screened out.Technology is now one of the biggest resources exploited by the legal sector. There has been a shift towards technology being used more widely throughout the recruitment process.
The number of firms who have mentioned they are implementing or updating applicant tracking systems (ATS) has increased over recent months. A good example of this adoption was Olswang, who were noted at The Lawyer Management Awards.
Due to the increasing volume of applications, successful firms require a comprehensive screening process to make accurate recruitment decisions. The focus has turned towards a process where a recruiter can control budget with upfront payment rather than the current pay-per-use trend. Most importantly however, these processes must be engaging for the candidates, improving connectivity through technology such as mobile websites.For new technology introduced to cope with the demands of these high volume campaigns, simplicity and efficiency is imperative.
The shift towards referrals also appears to be occurring within other sectors such as IT, professional and financial services.Jutta Kremer, Senior Recruiting Relationship Manager at Gartner, spoke about this switch in strategy at the recent Forum for In-House Recruiters (FIRM) winter conference.
The conversation around direct sourcing means that technology will likely be further adopted to aid the gap which recruiters have filled until now.Diversity within the Legal sector will be a major talking-point next year. Social equality in recruitment is something which has been heavily covered in the news in recent months, particularly the percentages of state-educated versus privately educated candidates gaining places at Russell Group Universities. The focus is now shifting to these percentages taken on as graduates by the legal and financial sectors.
This certainly seems an aspect to keep an eye on over the coming recruitment cohorts. Finally, it has been suggested that the focus on graduate may reduce in coming years and more focus will be placed on apprenticeships, in line with the government’s current drive.
Creative Commons image courtesy of Loz Flowers