How to hire qualified talent

Talent is scarce. Every client with whom I work utters the same frustration — We want to grow, but are afraid to get more work because we can’t find qualified lawyers to handle the new work.

Bruce Marcus, a marketing consultant, talked about the need to attract talent and suggests how to do so.

“… Recruiting advertising is like any other, in that telling people what you want won’t work. Offering people what they want, and how you’re going to give it to them, works. Some ideas that have succeeded mightily:

Sell the environment. Some headlines that worked:
We Cherish Excellence. You bring the excellence, we supply the opportunity.

We Cherish Professionalism. You get the opportunity to do your best work here.

For lateral hires, an ad that really pulled said, “If you’ve been practicing your kind of law but haven’t enjoyed it where you are, bring your skills here. We’ll supply the pleasure of good legal practice.”

Don’t be dull. “Wanted: a lawyer with 3 years experience” is for recruiting labor, not professionals. A tremendously successful recruiting ad said, “Imagine. Professionally.”

Be different. Be imaginative. Otherwise, you’ll lose good candidates to a firm that’s different and imaginative.

Be a firm that good people want to work for. For example, don’t advertise that you’re an up-to-date firm but don’t have a Web site. How up-to-date is that? Make sure that you are contemporary, technically and professionally.

Use your Web site as a major recruiting tool. Today’s young lawyers and law students go right to the site before they’ll talk to you. If they don’t like what they see, you won’t get the candidate. Your site should reflect your firm as exciting and professional, one that anybody would want to work for. It should show the environment as appealing — the kind of place that any ambitious professional, new or experienced — would enjoy working in.

And most important, as with any advertising, don’t offer what you can’t deliver. If you find that you don’t like the way your firm is perceived, don’t think you can change that perception by manipulating symbols. You can’t. To change the way you’re perceived, change what you are.

If you lose a good candidate to another firm, take the trouble to find out why. You’ll learn how to do it better next time.

As the market for lawyers gets more competitive, and as the demands for legal services get more complex, getting the best talent is a major survival tactic. In today’s economic, regulatory and technical environment, talent counts heavily. Recruiting the best is no longer an option. It’s vital.” (Emphasis added.)


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