Robin Jackson, legal sector business consultant recently published an article for Counsel Magazine ‘Working without benefits’.

In it, he discusses his employment survey of 1 of 39 sets, conducted as part of a survey on chambers.

He believes that “physical and mental wellbeing, the work-life balance and the linked issues of flexible,remote and hybrid working have come to the fore as the principal concerns for both employees and employers that must be addressed in the immediate future.”

He’s not wrong and although the current market is full of opportunities, it’s strongly weighted in favour of candidates, with the best in demand and able to be choosey.

So, if you want to attract (and retain) the best, here are some points to consider:

1. Diversity and the non-negotiable.

Improving and maintaining diversity and opportunity is a key topic for most businesses and the Bar is no exception. So as you seek to attract candidates form non-traditional pools, you need to be aware of their requirements.

For those entering from other sectors, what may be considered an ‘additional benefit’ is actually a non-negotiable starting point.

Roles without flexibility, a lack of clarity around job roles/responsibilities, poorly written work-place policies, a perceived lack of interest in wellbeing and corporate social responsibility (your website and social media channels will be the starting point) are now often complete deal breakers – and relying on the thinking that because your business is a ‘market leader’ is enough, is also misplaced.

2. Consider the external perception of your business.

What do you look like to someone who has never come across the legal or professional services sector?

It’s definitely worth taking the time to consider this – If you were a candidate looking for X role, and you came across your own business, what do you think you’re first impressions would be?

Can you make changes to outdated language, images on websites, are you doing enough to appeal to or explain properly what a career within your business looks like?

3. Evolve your approach.

If your recruitment strategies aren’t evolving, then you run the risk of missing a range of people that might be great for your business.

For example, when recruiting for more junior roles you may want to consider being active in the places that suitable candidates use for research and entertainment.

Many traditional recruitment platforms no longer deliver, some actually send applicants CV’s in such a poor state that the recipient business is given the impression the applicant is illiterate or hasn’t spent time creating it – be aware of CV’s being sent automatically by algorithm.

4. Sell your role and business properly.

Adverts, job descriptions and person specifications are now more vital than ever. As the first stages of almost all processes now begin online, that first contact, impression or download is so important.

It’s basic but all documents must be current, well written (in positive language), personalised as much as possible and be progressive and highlight how they will evolve.

Avoid as much dated or industry specific language as possible and ensure the focus is heavily on the individual, not just the business.

5. Don’t blow it.

In such a candidate driven market and having worked hard (harder than ever) to get to the point of an offer, you need to be prepared to be flexible.

It’s not all about the money, although we are seeing key leadership, management, business development, marketing and finance roles attracting premiums, candidates will often trade money for flexibility.

In smaller businesses it may be harder to provide flexibility, but this needs to be embraced.

Candidates are much more forward as to what it is they want – be prepared to listen and possibly think about new changes
you are more likely to get an offer accepted if the individual can see that they are dealing with a reasonable business.

Nick Rees – GRL Managing Director

GRL Legal

“We work closely with the owners, leaders and key personnel of leading barristers Chambers, law firms and other businesses in the professional services space, advising on recruitment projects, delivering consultancy services and focusing on market change. We add value through a clear understanding of our clients, their businesses, and deploy our skills and knowledge to support them appropriately. We are professional and easy to work with and our reputation is built on the highest levels of trust and integrity.”