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Is Digital Conveyancing the Future of Property Transactions?

  • February 8, 2024

The paths of residential and commercial property transactions in the UK are at a moment of divergence. While residential transactions are declining, commercial property transactions seem stable, even on the rise. Yet property lawyers are reporting shrinking caseloads, with some firms handling 25% fewer cases in 2023. Improving the conveyancing process, particularly through the implementation of digital conveyancing could create a better, faster conveyancing market that encourages buyers and sellers to take the plunge.

The Current State of Real Estate in the UK

Figures from HMRC show that December 2023 saw the fourth consecutive month-on-month drop in the number of residential transactions, marking a 20% decline from December the previous year. Yet at the same time, commercial property transactions are increasing, albeit slowly.

Many commentators are predicting a smoother, less fractious property market in 2024 that won’t be marked by the mini boom and bust cycles we’ve seen since 2020. However, what’s stopping the market from taking off is the continued sluggishness of property transactions. The average time for conveyancing on a residential property is around 22 weeks and for commercial property can be slower  – a long way from the ideal transaction time of 8-12 weeks.

These long conveyancing times are a major contributor to the national fall through rate on property purchases of 34%.

Is Digital Conveyancing the Solution?

Property transactions, far more than property prices, are a great indicator of the health of the market. Making property transactions faster and easier has the potential to encourage both sellers and buyers and creating a more stable property market in the long-term. So, how can we achieve better and faster conveyancing and a system that works for both buyers and sellers?

One oft cited solution is digital conveyancing. Digital conveyancing involves implementing electronic transactions for the transfer of legal documents and funds and making land search details such as tenure, title, and lease length accessible instantly. Digitalisation would:

  • Make the current conveyancing system more streamlined and transparent
  • Go a long way to achieving faster conveyancing times
  • Reduce the likelihood of error and the need for extensive checks and land searches
  • Make the system more accessible and make long-distance transactions easier

Countries such as Norway have achieved great success with digital conveyancing systems, in some cases reducing transaction times to a matter of days. However, making such a system possible in England could prove more difficult. Bringing conveyancing solicitors, the land registry and real estate agents into alignment would require robust data security measures, compliance regulation and technology implementation. It is also likely to be costly.

It seems unlikely that the government will agree to the high-level conveyancing rule changes that would make wholesale digitalisation of the system possible. Meaning that without industry-wide desire for reform the technology is likely to be implemented patchily, with some sectors such as commercial real estate more reluctant to embrace change.

Another possible solution is providing buyers with more upfront information regarding property, in the form of a return to home information packs (HIPs), Scotland’s home reports or even Buying and Selling Property Information (BASPI) questionnaires. Transaction times when HIPs were introduced were around 12 weeks and Scotland has seen a 60% reduction in fall throughs since adopting home reports. And, consumers are happy to pay for this information, with 65% willing to pay £300 for information that would speed up their transaction times.

What Should You Be Doing to Prepare for Digital Conveyancing?

As we’ve heard recently, a stable market means many conveyancing firms are looking to drive recruitment. But how can you make sure your latest recruitment drive considers the future of conveyancing?

  1. Attracting the right talent:
    Your hiring strategy should be focused on building and maintaining a talent pipeline that sustains your business long term. Focus on developing a strong, online employer brand that appeals to candidates, improving the candidate experience to make applying for roles smooth and seamless, and creating job descriptions that reflect the attributes and skills you need.
  2. Hiring for digital skills:
    Speaking of skills, when evaluating candidates be sure to consider their digital skills and abilities alongside their other competencies. Digital literacy will be increasingly important for the legal profession with or without the digitalisation of conveyancing. Skills-based hiring can also be used to pinpoint other key competencies like communication which are key in creating better and faster conveyancing.
  3. Retaining critical knowledge:
    Embracing the future of conveyancing will be impossible if business critical knowledge is lost. Improving employee retention not only keeps that knowledge in-house but allows you to pass that on to new employees though mentorship and professional development schemes.

Clayton Legal has over 20 years’ experience helping clients attract and retain legal talent across practice areas that include Property, Personal Injury, Family, Criminal, and Costs law as well as Legal IT and Civil and Commercial Litigation.

If you are building your legal team, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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From Intent to Inertia: Why Some Law Firms Struggle To Uphold their New Year’s Resolutions

  • February 6, 2024

From Intent to Inertia: Why Some Law Firms Struggle To Uphold their New Year’s Resolutions

With the first month of the new year now in the bag, it is highly probable that those ‘New Year’ resolutions set at the back end of 2023 have already been broken – at least those set on a personal level where exercise or the quitting of bad habits are usually top of those lists.

In this regard, it is estimated that as many as 80% of people fail to keep their resolutions by February, with only a mere 8% seeing them through for the entirety of the year.

A 4000-year Old Tradition

The act of setting goals at the start of a new calendar year is reported to date back to Ancient Babylonians some 4000 years ago where ‘debts were promised to be paid to gods and borrowed objects returned’. And, whilst the new year promises were deeply entwined with religion and mythology, the premise of a ‘new beginning’ is one that has carried through for many thousands of years.

While resolutions are often associated with personal goals, they hold equal importance when it comes to business – especially around setting annual objectives and reflecting on the overall strategy in an ever-changing environment where continual review of the road ahead is crucial.

Most businesses will review their new year plans in quarter four when typically, there is enough information to reflect back on metrics and KPIs for the current year, assess whether or not objectives will be hit, and allow some wiggle room to re-calibrate and focus on ending the year on a high.

Objectives or ‘new year resolutions’ therefore have likely long been set at this juncture – and for those firms set on a growth trajectory, these will likely include executing hiring plans as well as a laser-sharp focus on staff retention.

Are Your Business Resolutions Still on Track?

At the stroke of midnight on 1st January, and the subsequent return to the office after the festive break, law firms will no doubt have set their sights kickstarting the 2024 objectives with intent. However, as the first quarter unfolds, it appears that some legal practices may be encountering obstacles in adhering to their hiring-focused resolutions.

Even one calendar month down the line, and then as the year progresses, it’s essential for law firms to reassess their hiring objectives, adapt to unforeseen challenges, and remain committed to the path of growth – especially when you consider a recent statistic that 75% of UK businesses are in a state of ‘existence’ or just surviving.

So what areas should firms be focussed on to ensure their well-intentioned goals remain on track?

Streamline (and Standardise) Your Hiring Process:

The aspiration to streamline hiring processes and avoid past mistakes holds promise, but the intricate decision-making within law firms can pose challenges. If you recruit regularly, it is worth looking to standardise processes where possible, albeit not at the detriment to the often-unique experiences of each individual candidate that comes into contact with the firm. An ethical approach to recruitment is recommended here – and is becoming a non-negotiable in the current candidate-led market.

Enhance Diversity Efforts:

Despite the emphasis on diversity and inclusion, some law firms may struggle to make significant progress due to ingrained practices and a lack of comprehensive strategies. Overcoming unconscious biases and fostering an inclusive environment requires continuous effort, which may not be progressing as rapidly as intended. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are not just buzzwords or an acronym to add to your customer-facing marketing; they are essential components of a successful business strategy of any firm that aims to remain competitive. As the glue that keeps social dynamics within a business and in turn, team competence and efficacy functioning at its highest capacity, it is indispensable to your hiring strategy, whatever your recruitment goals or objectives may be, and when done right, it can be instrumental in keeping your talent attraction and retention efforts on track.

It is perhaps concerning then, that firms are yet to treat it as more than an emerging trend in practice, and some go only as far as paying lip service when professing to make it a central part of their recruitment efforts. If you’re serious about taking your hiring game to the next level in 2024, then this is a great place to start. We look at how to build a DEI strategy that supercharges your recruitment efforts here.

 

Revisit Your Job Descriptions:

Job descriptions may be overlooked as daily legal tasks take precedence. Busy schedules can result in insufficient attention to crafting comprehensive and appealing job descriptions, making it difficult to attract top-tier talent.

However, as the hiring landscape evolves, legal candidates still rely on engaging, informative, and powerful job descriptions to assess whether or not they are a fit for their career aspirations and professional development. The best job descriptions go beyond skill requirements, offering a glimpse into firm culture and showcasing benefits that matter to the market’s top talent.

As law firms forge ahead with hiring initiatives, the importance of making your voice shine amidst the noise becomes increasingly important. If you want to turn the heads of the right people from the get-go and avoid a ‘square peg in a round hole’ scenario with regard to your hiring efforts, then your job descriptions must be compelling, engaging and effective enough to attract the market’s top talent. Find out more about how to craft a winning job description here.

Harness the Potential of Social Media:

The traditionally conservative legal industry may find it challenging to fully embrace the power of social media. The time and resources required for maintaining an active and engaging social media presence can be overwhelming for firms, leading to a lapse in this resolution, however, love it or loathe it – the fact remains that legal professionals will research the whole digital footprint of a firm as part of their decision-making process.

If you have the core channels set up and active, it’s always worth a holistic review of things like your bio information, and your wider content strategy. What kind of things do you communicate? Do you share information that gives visitors to those platforms a good idea of your working environment and culture? Is it obvious how you celebrate success? Can you utilise the voice of your existing employees to focus on things like career development?  A social media strategy is usually easy to flex and improve as and when you need to, so if that review wasn’t part of your new-year resolution, it’s always worth finding the time to conduct your due-diligence and ensure that your channels are working as hard as they can to put your best foot forward to those in the active talent pools.

Invest in Training and Upskilling:

Despite recognising the importance of investing in staff development, law firms may face budget constraints or a lack of suitable training programs. This can hinder the execution of the resolution to upskill existing staff – something that will no doubt be on the agendas of businesses up and down the country as the much-documented skills shortage becomes a harsh reality.

Similarly, what legal professionals look for in an employer has changed significantly since the pandemic and the value of career fulfillment has become a staple part of the modern legal professional’s priorities when searching for the ideal employer.

The notion of the one-employer-career has changed dramatically in recent years, and it’s not at all uncommon for legal professionals to be left with a lingering sense of stagnation after spending a few years building their skills in their current role, and consequently view the option of jumping ship as the only way to experience real progress in their career.

The resulting high turnover rate is what has brought the idea of Employee Development Plans into focus for law firms, with an aim to ensure ongoing employability through improving the individual’s workplace soft and hard skills, and industry knowledge. A good plan will strive to create a series of actions designed to help the individual develop and grow within the context of their legal career, while also developing their capabilities and meeting the needs of the employer.

Build and Maintain Brand Image:

Building and maintaining a strong brand image demands consistent effort and resources. Law firms may find it challenging to allocate sufficient time and funds to enhance their brand, especially when immediate client needs take precedence.

Candidates believe in what they can see now more than ever, and in an age where information is easily accessible online, maintaining a strong brand and a good reputation is essential for attracting and retaining top legal talent. Prospective candidates will research a firm as much as the firm will investigate the candidates’ qualifications and qualities and should your credibility fall short as an employer you can be filtered out of shortlists before a CV or profile is even read.

A proactive approach is therefore essential in order to positively influence one’s brand and reputation in the market, whether that be by building a workforce that acts as ambassadors that champion the business values, or convincingly demonstrating that your business does indeed walk the walk when it comes to employee satisfaction. Click here to find out more about how you can tap into the potential your employer brand carries and catalyse its growth.

Consider How Flexible You Can Afford to Be:

One might say that the hybrid working drum has been beaten to death ever since its meteoric rise in popularity among legal candidates during the pandemic. It’s hardly a secret to anyone keeping a close eye on the state of play across the industry over the last few years, and most if not all firms competing for the best talent available on the market will be well aware of just how highly sought after flexibility is by the talent pool in their current market.

And yet, this topic of flexibility remains a sticking point with some employers today, and as a result a barrier to rather than a buttress for hiring success. While that is in part due to expected challenges in marrying candidate and business demands, it is also due to the general rigidity legal employers are known to have towards changes to traditional modus operandi in general. When competition for talent is fiercer than ever before, can your firm afford to be flexible when it comes to working arrangements?

Ultimately, the crux of your success in your hiring efforts will come down to how well you can provide the best employee experience better than your competitors (and back it up). If it is indeed a viable option for your business then it should absolutely be part of your recruitment – and retention – strategy.  We take a deeper look at this and much more here.

In Conclusion:

With almost 11 months left of the year, arguably it is still all to play for when it comes to adherence to your annual business objectives. If however, the roadmap to growth has already hit some bumps in the road, especially when it comes to talent attraction, utilising the services of legal recruitment specialists will undoubtedly get those plans back on track with renewed insight about current market conditions and the movement of talent within your region and/or practice area.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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The Inside Track With: Karen Bexley | Partner | Bexley Beaumont

  • January 31, 2024

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Karen Bexley | Partner | Bexley Beaumont

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

Although we’re still in winter, Mondays are very much the same regardless of the season or the weather. I enjoy starting the day and the week with a get-together with our central support team, we find it really helpful to have this time together so we understand how best to support each other through the week.  Driving into the office, I’ll be thinking through our priorities. It’s always quiet time well spent, clarifying strategy in a way which is often difficult when you’re at work.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

Over the last year we have seen growth, in terms of the services which we’re able to offer, partner numbers and – of course – revenues. We have greatly expanded our presence nationwide but, despite that, we have been able to retain the team culture which we believe is one of our real strengths. We’ve done that by organising many events – either social or more structured professional get-togethers, including guest speaker events, coaching sessions and training sessions – throughout the country, based both on location and practice areas. They really have helped create a very strong bond, knowledge and respect between our partners, wherever they are and whatever they do.

Another very welcome indication of our growth has been the perception of those outside the business. In March, we were named Boutique Law Firm of the Year at the inaugural Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse awards. It was totally unexpected, not least because we only opened our doors at the start of 2020 and so it shows the very rapid impact which we have made. We have received a number of other awards and nominations but don’t take any such recognition for granted, given that having a positive reputation is often a factor in the thinking of clients and prospective colleagues alike when it comes to deciding who they want to work with.

The coming year will see us start another important process in our development; namely, the journey to B Corp status. Certification shows that we will have met certain high standards in terms of our social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability, not just our track record as a business. It’s something which we believe is important in helping us achieve our ESG commitments.

We will also be launching a foundation and new initiative – BB Elevate – to support the development of our lawyers. There is a lot happening and we’re immensely excited to see how much we can accomplish.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

When I was still at school, my mother suggested that professional services might offer the prospect of a stable career. She was very much well aware of recession during the 1980s. That coincided with her telling me of her time as a legal secretary, so I became fixed on a job in law.

Whilst I began my degree wanting to change the world as a human rights lawyer, the Working Time Regulations came into force shortly after I started my training contract, so I became immersed in employment law instead. I qualified as a corporate and employment solicitor but I was so captivated by what was happening in employment law that I never did any corporate work.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

Without a doubt, my biggest professional satisfaction has come from launching Bexley Beaumont in January 2020 with my co-founder, Anna Beaumont after months of preparation and planning. Like any new business, we have experienced both highs and lows, even without the challenge posed by the pandemic. We believe ourselves to be fortunate to be heading into our fifth year in a strong position and with the passion that we had at the start still very much intact.

Out of the office, I enjoy watching my two daughters grow, making their own decisions but having the occasional nudge and encouragement from Mum along the way!

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

As a professional and businesswoman, I’m inspired by anyone who has built a company while staying true to themselves and their vision of how that business should be. I know just how much commitment, resilience, patience, determination and a sense of humour is certainly needed at times.

I’m also inspired by my children on a daily basis too. Thanks to the pandemic and the necessity of homeschooling which it created, they have been part of the Bexley Beaumont journey in ways that none of us could have foreseen!

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

My reading matter at the moment tends to reflect my professional interests. Currently, I’m immersed in a book called ‘The Culture Code‘ by Daniel Coyle because it is very much in keeping with one of my focal points at Bexley Beaumont; that is, building successful and safe group office cultures. It’s fascinating to consider the theory alongside the real world examples.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

Arguably the most important would be to believe in myself and enjoy the professional journey, no matter where it leads. I would also encourage my younger self to trust her instincts. Change really has been a constant over the course of my time in the law industry. Being open to and able or willing to adapt to it rather than fearful of it is another important quality.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

It has changed in so many ways, yet there is much more to do. When I became a lawyer, roughly 60 per cent of those entering the profession were female. The percentage of female partners was significantly lower. Reading SRA statistics on diversity more than two decades later, I found that women make up the majority of lawyers in law firms but still account for only one-third of partners. The way in which law firms operate has certainly undergone transformation and I feel proud that Bexley Beaumont has played a part in that. We have been called a “hybrid” and the “best of both” because we combine the most effective elements of traditional law firms and fee-share firms. Legal 500 recently remarked how we have an “innovative model” and a “progressive team culture”. It is really heartening to have those outside the firm pick up on elements of what we do that we want to be known for.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

I like to remain active, so start my weekends with a park run but it’s good to watch my children keep active themselves at their various hobbies. Having said that, it’s also nice to switch off and settle down as a family at home or take a trip to the theatre with my children.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

Steven Bartlett is a favourite.

 

Bexley Beaumont is an award-winning boutique law firm with offices in London and Manchester, established in 2020 with a keen focus on delivering excellent service to their clients. Passionate about taking law to the next level, Bexley Beaumont is a firm where collaboration, support and innovation are part of the culture. They have also recently been named Boutique Law Firm of the year at The Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse Awards.

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The Boomerang Dilemma: Is the Reward Worth the Risk?

If you have started the new year with a feeling of discontent with your current legal role, you may have already started to consider what those crucial next steps look like.

At this crossroads, there are a number of options available, but crucially they boil down to two choices.

 

1. Speak up and express your unhappiness with your current employer. Depending on the root cause, it may be something that can be addressed and overcome or worked through. There may be a lateral move internally for example that would be worth considering, or a review of your working arrangements.

2. Consider other opportunities in the market. Whilst general hiring trends indicated a dip in the sector in 2023, vacancies were by and large still above pre-pandemic levels, and there is most certainly a wide range of roles available to those looking at pastures anew.

If you have found yourself in the second category, either by proxy, if all elements have been explored in option 1, or you feel it is simply the right ‘time’ there is also another route available that has seemed to gain momentum in the last 12 months – returning to an ex-employer.

The Boomerang Phenomenon

If you have ever considered the possibility of returning to a former employer, you’re not alone. Welcome to the intriguing concept of “boomerang hires” – a phenomenon that is reshaping the way we view career trajectories – and one that has gained popularity in recent months.

As the term coined implies, put simply it means returning or circling back to a previous workplace – whether that’s because you are seeking a fresh start somewhere else, or are aiming to rediscover a company culture that you once thrived in.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, research has shown that boomeranging was previously quite rare. However, more recent studies have found that across a wide range of industries, nearly 20% of workers who quit their jobs during the pandemic have since returned to their old employers.

These boomerang individuals present a big opportunity for law firms who are starting to look at this option as a strategic recruitment tool, and also present a solution to the industry-wide skills shortage that continues to be a challenge for firms in the hiring market today.

(It also consequently presents a major risk with respect to retention, as new hires may be increasingly liable to boomerang back to their previous organisations.)

As far as jobseekers go, however, as with any move, there are obvious benefits as well as challenges to consider >>>

Familiar Territory

Perhaps boomeranging’s biggest selling point is the familiarity it offers. Starting a new job is so often filled with uncertainty around things like fitting in, making a good first impression, and adapting to a new firm culture, all of which can slow down that bedding-in process and affect performance in those first crucial weeks on the job, especially if it’s one very different to what the norm used to be.

Making a return to familiar territory expedites this acclimatisation period, as not only is there far less of a learning curve skill-wise during the onboarding process compared to your first time as a new starter, but the knowledge and understanding you have of the business’s ways of working and dynamics helps to bypass many of the above challenges and quickly hit the ground running.

Refreshed Perspective

Career growth often entails exploring different opportunities and gaining diverse experiences and at times a step back may be needed in order to take a leap forward. Some employees leave their previous employers in search of better prospects in their line of work, only to realise that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and consequently, return with not only a refreshed perspective but also a great deal of experience and know-how their previous employer can greatly benefit from, particularly if they joined a competitor.

This puts returning employees in a great position when it comes to career prospects, particularly if the relationship between both parties pre-departure was built on mutual respect and as a result, they are better placed to get a job offer that reflects their value to the hiring firm in the form of a higher position or opportunities for progression.

When to Think Twice…

It is crucial to remember, however, that these benefits are very much dependent on the kind of firm and working environment you are returning to. If the reasons for your initial departure centre around an unhealthy company culture, a lack of growth opportunities, flexibility or limited upward mobility, returning by no means guarantees or even promises any significant changes. Some firms are resistant to change, and if the reasons that prompted you to leave remain unaddressed, chances are you will be facing the same challenges upon your return. Before deciding to boomerang, it’s imperative you assess whether your ex-employer has taken steps to improve the aspects that initially led to your departure – or whether you have overcome those reasons yourself.

Salary Growth Limitations

One of the most likely reasons a move back to a previous employer is ever on the cards is the prospect of salary growth and improved compensation. As discussed earlier, it is one legal professionals can often feel more entitled to considering the skills, knowledge and experience they are bringing with them upon their return and certainly now more than ever in the current market, with the average salary increase for job hoppers higher (14.8%) found to be higher than those of professionals that stayed put (2-4%). However, a word of warning here – as a decision to boomerang based on salary incentives alone is an ill-advised one. Boomerang employees who expect their salary to match the increase they may have achieved after leaving may face disappointment, as employers will be hiring a lot more for fit rather than solely skill and will see this strategy coming from a mile away. There’s also the fact that even if you do get the salary increase you’re looking for, it may turn out to be the only silver lining in your move back if you happen to be returning to colleagues unhappy with the circumstances around which you and your employer parted ways.

Water Under the Bridge

Another note to consider is how and under what circumstances you left your previous employer. Was this on good terms?  This is a key thing to take into consideration when exploring the idea of returning to a previous employer, as that may dictate the terms of your relationship with present employees should you decide to boomerang. Remember that it is not only old relationships you will be returning to when you do, but also the impression you left on colleagues with your exit. With any luck you will have resigned gracefully, so a return back to the fold will be seamless – and welcome.

This also swings both ways. If feelings of bitterness or uncertainty are present due to redundancy or parting on bad terms, then it can be difficult to turn over a new leaf without harbouring a grudge or even a sense of guilt, especially if your departure was recent. According to certified life and career coach Emily Liou, a good way to determine if boomeranging is the best decision is to consider the following:

  • If your return is driven by ego, i.e. a desire to prove a point that they should’ve never let you go.
  • If there is a strong sense of scepticism regarding the integrity of the management.
  • If there is a loss of respect for the employer due to how previous layoffs were handled.

If the answer is ‘yes’ to one or all of these, it is probably not the best move to return.

Context, however, is always key no matter what way you look at a dilemma of this nature as another angle worth considering is the reason for your exit if you were laid off. If such reasons are economic and the departure was handled with respect and sensitivity, then yes, a move back can possibly be on the cards – if it is in line with present career aspirations.

Keeping Career Goals on Track

Perhaps the most important thing to consider of all is where a possible return is going to take you career-wise. Judging by where you are at present in your legal career, will it bring an upward trajectory to your career growth in the next few years is this more of a lateral move?

Whatever your reasons for or against a move back, remember that your future career goals and objectives should take absolute precedence in your decision-making and should be the biggest driver of any desire to move roles, or indeed, boomerang. T

To this end, a regular check-in and period of self-reflection regarding your progress is paramount. Your vision for your development as a professional, and the path to get you there should always be clear and if it isn’t then a snapshot of what it currently looks like it is in order. Our simple checklist can help to identify where that gap between aspirations and reality is and help you get a sense-check of your present objectives, so that you make the best decision for your career, whether that be a boomerang move or otherwise.

Unsure of Which Direction to Take?

If you’re stood at those crossroads and find that you need more guidance than a simple checklist can provide, and bit of expert advice to make those next few steps in the right direction can be hugely valuable.

At Clayton Legal, we work closely with hundreds of legal professionals who are either actively searching for a new opportunity in the market, as well as those who aren’t quite at that juncture yet.

We don’t believe in recommending roles that aren’t a good fit for your skills or aspirations, and will always provide an honest (and impartial) service which means putting ALL options on the table so that you have all bases covered.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals, and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help – whether that’s on a contingency or retained basis.

Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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The Inside Track With: Tina Khanna | Conveyancing Director | RG Law

  • December 27, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Tina Khanna | Conveyancing Director | RG Law

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

It has been a busy Monday morning catching up with the team and setting out some clear goals for the week. I love to set some goals at the start of each week and have a plan.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

We have just completed a recruitment drive and we are getting all our new starters trained up and ready to go! It has been an interesting market over the last few months and we are excited to be launching a number of marketing campaigns to drive business and continue our very positive business growth.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

I decided quite early on, during the last years of school, that I wanted to be a Lawyer. I was always very inspired by the usual legal TV programmes involving the law and showing the clever use of strategy and convincing arguments to present a case in a particular way. This interest continued into my A-levels, as I studied subjects built around interpretation and analysis, such as Psychology, History and English Literature. Analytical thinking and application has always driven my interest in the Law and the ability to have a real impact in assisting people and making a difference.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

It was a very proud moment for me when I was offered the role of a Director at RG Law. The company embodies all my own personal values and is hugely committed to progressing its people. It has been amazing to be part of a company that has acted as a springboard in the careers of many legal professionals who have then gone onto start their own companies and become hugely successful. I think interacting with so much talent and helping them fulfil their full potential has been a huge accomplishment during my time as a Director at RG Law.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

Most definitely my parents. They ran a successful business for many years and taught me the importance of driving and shaping your own future. Being a parent myself, I always draw inspiration from them and how they managed all priorities in life so equally. They have always been my biggest ambassadors and I try to make them proud on a daily basis.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

I really believe in the power of laughter. I love to laugh out loud. I have always loved watching ‘Friends’ and my absolute favourite character is Chandler, played by Matthew Perry. I was very upset after his recent passing and have started to read extracts from his book and plan for that to be my next read. His huge contribution to comedy is something I will always admire and continue to enjoy.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

I am quite analytical and can be hard in my critique of myself. I would tell my younger self that you learn something new every day and you don’t need to know everything on day one. Self development is a journey and you should enjoy every day and ask lots and lots of questions. No question is a silly question and there is a huge amount of knowledge and learning to be gained. I try and pass this learning onto anyone that asks me for advice when embarking on their legal career.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

I do think Covid has changed the industry and stopped people connecting with each other as much as they did before. The best way to form a relationship is to pick up the phone and talk. That’s how you can best understand the expectations and priorities of your clients and email is not always the answer. Connecting with our clients and with each other continues to be an area the industry needs to focus on.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

I love working on my health and fitness. This gives me a boost of energy on a daily basis and I love to include my family in this by taking long walks to get my steps, but sharing new experiences and journeys with them on the way!

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

Simon Sinek ‘A bit of Optimism‘ and Steven Bartlett ‘Diary of a CEO‘.

 

RG Law is a successful and award-winning law firm, providing comprehensive Conveyancing, Wills and Probate Solutions with offices in Sidcup and York. Founded in 2007 and working with clients across England and Wales, RG Law is a growing team of 50 with an aim to ensure every customer, receives a level of service that exceeds their expectations.

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The Boomerang Hire: Your Answer to the Skills Shortage Problem?

Finding a lasting solution to the industry-wide skills shortage continues to be a challenge for firms in the hiring market today. Despite the evolution that the Great Resignation has sparked in hiring practices across the sector and the many approaches adopted by hiring teams to combat the increasing skills gap, acquiring the talent one needs to keep their business competitive in a cut-throat market proves to be as elusive a pursuit as ever. One approach however that has gained huge traction in recent years amongst firms is the recruitment of Boomerang Hires – a practice that involves rehiring employees who have previously left the organisation – and to employers bereft of options and under pressure to keep their business afloat, it shows a lot of promise.

Why is an ex-hire Worth it?

Purely from a cost perspective, it is a tantalising prospect – as they not only require far less onboarding than your usual new hire but their familiarity with the business’s modus operandi and established dynamics means you get something close to what any recruiting firm is looking for in a new hire – one that slots in seamlessly into the business structure and hits the ground running performance-wise in as short a timeframe as possible. And, in some cases, perhaps the icing on top of the cake is the experience and expertise your firm will be gaining twofold with their return.

Little wonder then that this has quickly become a hit with employers in recent times, and although not a new phenomenon, it’s certainly an increasingly prominent one. A HBR report released this year revealed that 28% of new hires in organisations studied were found to be boomerang hires that had resigned within the past three years. And this isn’t due to the trigger-happy response we’ve now come to expect from employees in the Great Resignation era either – businesses have become not only open but actually intentional about recruiting ex-hires as part of their hiring strategy. When necessity dictates diversity of approach, we begin to see the most interesting of them come to the fore.

High-Risk, High-Reward

There is however, an inherent risk that comes with it, considering the boomerang hire phenomenon cuts both ways for a hiring firm, as any new hire (boomerang employees included) employed is also susceptible to boomeranging back to their previous employer, or in the case of the latter, leaving your firm hung out to dry a second time, and can make retention a very counterproductive and unwelcome by-product of this hiring approach. When discussing the boomerang hire as a solution to the skills gap problem, a few things ought to be kept front of mind. Firstly, how can you avoid being on the wrong side of the boomerang hire equation and secondly, how can you leverage the value it provides to inform a hiring strategy that effectively addresses the skills shortage within your firm?

First Things First

If you are considering going down the boomerang hire route hiring-wise, then know that it requires a significant amount of groundwork to be laid first and should not be viewed as a band-aid fix for a turnover problem. Making an offer convincing enough for an ex-employee to return first requires a thorough understanding of where your firm has missed the mark with regard to employee satisfaction in the past, and what steps must be taken to address it both before and after the boomerang point.

This firstly involves a mutual understanding between management and workers of why employees are leaving in the first place, and acknowledging the part the firm has played in it. The goal of this is to address existing pain points within the company – and in particular, beyond salary and benefits, so as to avoid the trap of making a glorified counteroffer to ex-hires when the time comes to reach out. As research shows that compensation concerns do not tell the full story of why employees opt to leave, and that there are often underlying and unspoken factors at play, the act of encouraging employees to voice out their concerns serves to inform your decision-making and will likely pay off when approaching ex-hires down the line.

Whatever the area of improvement involves, whether that be investing in the professional development and growth of your employees, providing opportunities for upskilling, mentoring programs, and continuous learning initiatives or simply rebuilding the firm culture from the ground up – addressing them not only allows you to perform the open-heart surgery your firm needs, but also sets the foundation for a better overall employee experience and keeps the possibility of any new hires boomeranging to an absolute minimum.

An Open Door Requires Open (and Honest) Communication

This endeavour to maintain an open and honest dialogue between both parties should also be applied at every stage of the leaver process, especially before an employee exit, when they, and particularly their reasons, need to be treated with dignity and respect. A sit-down with departing individuals to discuss and understand what led to their decision, raise concerns, and provide assurances that the door will always be open for them should they wish to return, can be a great way to end the working relationship on a positive note and build the sense of trust and openness that is so crucial for later discourse to be fruitful. Be wary of the classic blame game that can arise in such discussions, as this can sour the relationship and leave a bad aftertaste in the mouths of both parties. Succumbing to the temptation of assigning blame or pointing fingers does your future hiring efforts no good here, even if it may feel like the most natural thing to do in the spur of the moment.

Following this should be a genuine effort to keep the lines of communication open between both parties after departure, in order to extend the quality of the employee experience post-exit and ensure a smooth transition for a return if and when it does happen. This could involve investing in an alumni network of sorts to maintain relationships between existing former employees, provide networking opportunities and most importantly, give ex-hires a means to reconnect with their former employer should the need for it arise.

This is particularly useful when bearing in mind the timing of communication. Research suggests that the one-year anniversary of a former employee’s departure is the optimal time to reconnect and make a re-hire offer. This isn’t only because it’s when they’re most likely to boomerang back to their previous employer, but it’s also because it represents the ideal and least awkward time for employers to take that first step of reaching out. For any employee strongly considering making a 180 in the other direction especially, it can be a godsend.

Protect Your Assets – Old and New

When considering what constitutes a worthwhile offer, this will largely depend on the flexibility of your firm. The key thing to bear in mind here is the balance that must be struck between making an offer worth considering – pay and promotion-wise – and making one that doesn’t come at the expense of your present employees. While it is certainly true that a pay rise can sweeten the deal, it cannot be the meat of the argument pitched to an ex-hire. Failing to keep existing employees front of mind puts the trust, commitment and relationships built at risk, as it sets an unwelcome precedent that anyone within the business can play the victim card, leave the firm high and dry and get away with it with a fatter salary in the end. What is best practice in such scenarios is to make the suggested changes outlined above the heart of your proposal and the crux of the conversation with the ex-employee. Only when this is done with a focus on prioritising equity in the firm, can the boomerang hire approach bring immense value to all parties, new or old.

This same level of care must be taken when looking at the other side of the boomerang hire as a strategy, as largely the same rules apply with new hires, especially considering the amount of overlap between the reasons employees opt to boomerang and the biggest drivers of the Great Resignation today. Any perceived gap between what is promised and what is delivered by new recruits, whether that be explicit contractual breaches or an unspoken violation of agreement terms, is going to get heads turning in the opposite direction wondering if the grass really is greener on the other side. This is particularly important when discussing the more intangible aspects of a contract, such as promotions, benefits, or progression opportunities as these sit at the heart of a legal professional’s demands in the current day and age. When expectations begin to differ from reality here, it becomes increasingly difficult for a new hire leaving behind a lot of social and company capital to justify sticking with their decision and avoid boomeranging.

The best way, therefore, to eliminate this risk and address any issues brewing under the surface is, perhaps unsurprisingly, regular communication between management and new recruits, whether in the form of check-ins or stay interviews, to get a clear picture of what their experience has been so far compared to the specifics of the job pitched to them at the interview. This helps to bring any disparities to light and enables management to address highlighted discrepancies and misunderstandings early before they evolve into actual psychological contract breaches or a growing resentment towards management for a perceived set of broken promises. This can be further buttressed by a conscious effort beforehand to outline to legal candidates what is to be expected from a position on offer in interviews, and ensure the right picture is painted from the onset.

Does the Shoe Fit?

Boomerang hires present a fantastic opportunity for legal employers to approach the skills gap problem from a unique angle – one that offers a lot of value for firms willing to play their cards right and enables them to bolster their workforce without many of the risks that recruiting a new hire carries. But while they are a unique solution, they only tick some of the boxes that a hiring firm will have its eye on and can leave a lot to be desired when applied at scale. They don’t, for example, take into account the changing needs of your firm hiring-wise, the changes that will already have taken place in their absence or how the role has evolved to best serve the business’s needs since they left. Unlike a new hire, who is more malleable at the very start of their tenure, and easier to adapt to firm demands, a boomerang hire will already have their own ways of working set in stone and can become a square peg in a round hole if not considered carefully beforehand.

Second Chances Require a Second Thought

An equally crucial aspect of their return to look at is the state of their relationship with any existing employees and where this leaves your team morale should they be accepted back into the fold. As it is clear from the data that the reasons for an employee’s departure can at times be vague and ambiguous, there is the risk of unearthing old grudges amongst your current workforce if the cause for resignation was a disconnect between an existing and former employee, especially if it was not made clear beforehand by the boomerang hire pre-departure. The phrase ‘fool me twice’ rings true here for any employer with a boomerang hire at or near the top of their candidate shortlist, as they should only be re-hired if it is absolutely clear the second chance will not be squandered. Without a clear picture of what exactly led to their exit, you are potentially jeopardising the trust and stability of your team.

The Only One-Size-Fits-All-Solution

For hiring problems that present a longstanding challenge to law firms looking to add the right skillset to their teams, the services of a specialist legal recruiter are the future-proof solution. The grasp they have on the market and the experience and know-how they possess in sourcing the talent a firm needs, whatever the scale of change present in their hiring practices, provides far more value in the long run than what any boomerang hire can offer. Particularly in a market where change is thrust at us at an extremely rapid rate, the guidance and support they can provide to navigate the hiring process can be invaluable. What the right boomerang hire cannot solve with all its pluses, a specialist recruiter can do with minimal hassle and much, much more.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

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The Inside Track With: Allan Sumner | Partner | Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand

  • November 27, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Allan Sumner | Partner | Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

I am an early bird. I always start early when the office is quiet. I can get my thinking and drafting done while it’s quiet and without interruptions. So this morning I’ve been looking through an option agreement.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

It’s still incredibly strong.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

No! When I finished University I wanted to do something with wildlife but my Mum told me that was a hobby and not a job and that I needed to ‘knuckle down’. Thirty years later I am still knuckling down…

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

I think I’ve generally done OK over the years in helping clients achieve their objectives. I’ve been lucky to be involved with trainees too and I’m always pleased to see them come through and prosper. I would also like to think that I’m OK to deal with on the other side of transactions.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

Probably like a lot of people my parents. Their work-ethic, honesty and how much they cared.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

I moved into crime fiction a few years ago, because it’s so easy to read. So at the moment DI Nick Dixon in Damien Boyd’s ‘Dead Level‘ on the Kindle.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

You grow up and develop through stages of your career both as a person and in the job. I have tried to stick with what I think is right, so the advice would be just that. Be yourself and treat people as you would like to be treated.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

It’s changed hugely since I first started and Covid accelerated some of those changes. Obviously, technology has been a huge driver and will continue to be so. Lockdown projected many firms into more modern working practices. On the downside, we spend far too much time behind computer screens and less face-to-face.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

Wildlife and the natural world. I got into running a while back and that’s been great, I’ve had some really great adventures with friends and family.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

Not sure I get much time for these but sports-related ones, cycling, rugby, and football. Really enjoy cycling’s grand tours, so those especially.

 

Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand is a full-service private, corporate and commercial law firm with offices in Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale. With over 200 years of legal expertise, they have been providing legal services with the highest level of legal skills and guidance across the North West & further afield, making them one of the most well-known and highly sought-after law firms in their area.

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The Inside Track With: James Bell | Partner & Head of Department | Kingsley Napley

  • October 27, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: James Bell | Partner & Head of Department | Kingsley Napley

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

Very busy! Reviewing incoming new client enquiries and meeting with our Practice Support Lawyer to set ourselves some key objectives for the next 12 months.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

The department and the firm generally is firing on all cylinders. Staff morale is very good and the new offices here at 20 Bonhill Street are a great environment for us.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

After a short period as a work placement paralegal at a busy criminal law firm I realised that law was my vocation. It took a few more years before I specialised into personal injury and then again into clinical negligence.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

In terms of casework, my proudest moment was a case for a young man who was assaulted by a police officer during a riot in Trafalgar Square. He suffered a fractured skull, epilepsy and a very disrupted education. The previous solicitors had lost legal aid funding and the case was very close to being struck out. I took over the case, re-interviewed witnesses, obtained additional CCTV and BBC footage and took the case to trial – where we succeeded. The Metropolitan Police appealed the judgement but we won again in the Court of Appeal. It was a case where I feel I personally made a difference by going the extra mile and not being afraid to take a risk.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

Lord Denning – who often managed to adapt the law in inventive ways to help those that he considered had suffered an injustice.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

In Praise of Shadows by Junichirō Tanizaki, following a recent trip to Japan.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

Don’t be afraid to take risks with hard cases.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

Working from home is probably the biggest change – overall I feel it has been a force for good in law and has not had the negative impact on client care or productivity. I still prefer in-person court hearings, however.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

I enjoy park runs, gardening, cooking and long walks in the countryside.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

I’m quite a fan of unsolved true crime podcasts – so anything in that genre!

 

Kingsley Napley Solicitors is an internationally recognised London law firm with top-ranked lawyers who provide the highest quality legal advice and services across a wide range of industries and practice areas for over 80 years. While they are well-known for their Criminal Litigation, they also offer expertise in corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, employment, family, immigration, medical negligence, private client, public law, real estate & construction, and regulatory law.

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Unleashing The Power of AI in Your Job Search

The sudden emergence of AI onto the hiring scene has brought in a wave of changes that have transformed how job seekers and recruiters alike approach recruitment and job hunting. With the growing importance of the role of AI in recruitment has come an evolution of a similar ilk in the job search process for candidates on the job market, and in recent months much has been written about how they can leverage tools such as ChatGPT and AI Resume Writer to get the most out of their job search efforts.

However, in order to fully reap the benefits of AI technology as an active jobseeker, a thorough understanding of what exactly AI has brought to the hiring landscape on both sides of the playing field is essential, as one must first know the role of AI in the recruitment process of hiring companies to better understand how it will inform and change your approach to job hunting, as well as understand where it offers many benefits and where it shows its limitations.

Used long since its recent evolution into a highly influential tool for hiring managers, AI has been playing a simple but necessary role in the early stages of the hiring process for over the past two decades, helping companies sort through long lists of candidate applications by automating profile evaluation, and effectively streamlining hiring practices in a variety of other ways to optimise recruitment efforts. And, with how businesses have been forced to adapt in a cut-throat post-pandemic market and economic climate, its importance has only grown.

Shrinking recruiting budgets and growing talent pools have meant that digital technologies have begun playing an increasingly decisive role in the outcome of job seekers’ fates employment-wise. Although in some cases, pertinent (and valid) questions are being asked about transparency and accountability, particularly with how easily it can reflect the biases of its users, and ultimately exacerbate the issue it was meant to eliminate.

With the role of AI in hiring set to only expand in the near future, the importance of being aware of where exactly the winnable battles lie in the job application process – whether that be with the bots or their employers – has never been more crucial for a job seeker.

 

Beating the Bots

It might come across as stating the obvious considering the nature of the process but automated software used in hiring tends to eliminate far more candidates than those pushed through to the next stages. What is rather surprising from this fact is the implication that it’s rarely the most qualified person who gets the job, as stated by career coach and CV writer Lauren Milligan. This is, unsurprisingly due to the cut-throat efficiency with which AI software operates, and when employed in the initial screening stage in the hiring process, can mean candidates’ dreams of securing a highly desired role are over before it’s even begun, despite pouring hours into crafting the perfect CV or cover letter to avoid such a fate.

This won’t be news to some, however, as many are already aware of how these kinds of AI software, usually known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), operate. Their use of keyword matching, to assess your fit based on the extent of the match between your skills and experience and those listed in the job description, has become common knowledge amongst candidates, but it can mean that applicants who are otherwise very much qualified but without the necessary overlap between the required & acquired skills (usually between 70-80%) get cut out.

Another important, but perhaps less known and yet obvious point about how ATS’ work is the chronological order in which they sort through candidate applications. These systems will usually have a cut-off point on their list of applicants in order to save time and efficiently deal with roles oversaturated with job applications. This can mean that regardless of whether or not you have applied the above tips to your job search efforts, the success of your application can hinge on which end of the applicant list you end up on – in other words, how early or how late you apply for any role. Do it too close to the given deadline and even if you did submit it on time, your application will likely end up being dropped simply because it happened to be below the cut-off point.

To this end, employing AI to cut down on the time spent searching for a role by taking your use of it, is now a necessity rather than an option for active job seekers. Fortunately, with how frankly overwhelmed candidates are today by the number and accessibility of AI tools available to aid them in their job search, getting your application axed early is now a very avoidable fate.

Job seekers have the opportunity to optimise their CV to match the job description as accurately as possible and pass that initial litmus test by employing the use of AI CV writer tools, to help to write, suggest edits to and include the right keywords in their CV. While these tools don’t have a steep learning curve, there are pointers that could prove helpful in utilising them well.

 

Feeding The Hopper – Getting Out What You Put In

One of the biggest tips when using any AI tool to generate content is to give it as much context and detail as you can, as the quality of the desired piece (to a degree) depends on what information you provide it. So when writing CVs, using AI tools such as ChatGPT and Resume Kicker, it’s a good idea to provide context regarding your background, achievements, education and work experience, making sure to add in measurable results to back up career achievements like percentages, ranges, findings, as these are things AI tools like ChatGPT won’t automatically know or might fabricate if you don’t tell it.

Some other tools like KickResume or Rezi require just the job title and generate job titles that match it in a bullet point format. Obviously, you are free to change this to your liking as long as it accurately reflects your experience and roles.

 

A Step-By-Step Approach

If you do choose to utilise an AI tool to support, it is a well-known no-no to write the whole document from scratch, simply because it increases the likelihood of fabricated details being added to your draft. A better approach would be to do it section by section, beginning with your personal statement, then your experience & responsibilities, then your achievements, and so on. This not only helps to avoid having false information but it also makes it easier to spot it as you work through your draft section by section, should it still be added in, and allows you to better format your CV while doing so.

 

Find Tools To Support (Not Replace) Your ’Marketing’

When employing AI to help craft your CV or Cover letter), utilising tools that simulate the keyword-matching process is useful as they can scan your document for keywords/phrases relevant to the job description.

This is where the crux of the issue lies when trying to get past any ATS and as previously mentioned, a failure to do this can make other efforts to get your foot through the door meaningless, even if you do have the right skills and credentials for the role in question.

There is specific software on the market now such as TheProfessional.Me to address just this; with both CV scanning and CV writing tools to analyse your job descriptions and include relevant keywords. There are also browser plugins like Jobanalytics, which work in a similar manner, to ensure that your CV has a high enough keyword match to be considered eligible by the ATS.

 

Forget Your Formatting At Your Peril

When it comes to CV formatting and layout, keeping this clean and simple is just good advice to ensure your salient points are clear and don’t get lost.  Plus, your formatting must be simplistic so it is as easy to scan as possible  – both physically by a hiring manager and by any ATS platforms used. The reason for this is that ATS’ usually reject CVs with more complex formatting elements such as boxes, tables or graphics and favours CVs with a more traditional layout as they are easier to analyse. While this can undermine attempts from candidates to convey a strong personal brand through their CVs and Cover Letters (more on this later), it is necessary to avoid getting booted by the system automatically, especially if your CV ticks all the other boxes. So be sure to space out your sentences and structure them in an easily digestible format, using bullet points and professional fonts like Times New Roman.

 

Tidying Up Your Digital Footprint

If you use AI tools to update and refine your CV, you’ll also want to update your online CV too – namely, your LinkedIn profile. Optimising your work experience here is key to include keywords and phrases relevant to the type of role you want. Go into as much detail as you are able and don’t forget to include any tangible results that back up any statements.

Whilst a CV builder can certainly help to lay the foundations, quite simply, this is the one area it won’t be able to finesse as this knowledge lies with you – so be prepared once again to adapt, edit, and personalise your profile accordingly.

 

Preparation Support For Interviews

As you progress down the recruitment process as a jobseeker, AI tools are flooding the market to help here too. Take ChatGPT for example which can simulate mock interviews or provide a list of questions that it recommends you ask as a candidate looking for a role in a specific practice area.

Google meanwhile has developed its own interview-preparation tool, Interview Warmup where you are asked to ‘speak’ your answers out loud whilst the tool transcribes and then provides insights into what you said.

This is a great tool to not only give you a chance to practice and perfect your responses, but also to learn about your pace, word choices, intonation, and hesitations. Being aware of these (and what you need to improve on) will undoubtedly help you to prepare for the day in question.

However, what such tools won’t give you is insight on the ‘typical’ questions asked by that particular firm; what the hiring manager or Partner is looking for specifically, any intel on how previous interviews with that firm have tended to run, or the inside track on the vacancy, make up of the team, or historic hiring activity.

 

Can AI Really Do It All?

While AI brings numerous benefits it’s important to acknowledge some potential drawbacks as well – at least for the time being.

CVs and cover letters are still as important as ever to do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting your profile noticed – whether that’s for a direct job application, a speculative send to an employer, or when you register with a recruitment agency to represent you in the market. And, whilst AI tools can certainly give you a foundation on which to build your content, it is unlikely to suitably represent your own personality. Rather, without intervention, you run the risk of producing an identikit CV containing the same words, phrases, and points as another legal professional applying for the role who has done the same.

Yes – in some ways, it levels the playing field as you no longer have to be a wordsmith to craft a well-honed CV. However, in other ways, as the use of AI becomes more widely adopted, it becomes increasingly more difficult to genuinely stand out.

 

In Conclusion

AI is revolutionising most industries in some way shape or form, and the world of hiring and recruitment is no exception.

Tools and platforms purporting to make the road to a new role easier appear to launch in the market at a rate of knots, offering all kinds of services from CV writing and screening, to job matching, virtual career advisors, LinkedIn optimisation, and document creation.

Undoubtedly there are numerous benefits to job seekers who often are time-poor, to help at least get a good foundation on their ‘marketing’ collateral. However, it’s important to remember that AI is not a substitute for human involvement or insight.

The human touch and intuition still play a crucial role, especially when assessing soft skills and cultural fit. Registration with a reputable legal recruitment agency will help to fill this gap, and can help to give you the inside track on hiring, the background to that position being open, other opportunities not advertised in the open market, and support as you prepare to interview.

And,  whilst it is our job to shout from the rooftops why legal professionals should use the services of a recruitment consultant to give them a tangible step up and competitive advantage, now more than ever, those who are tapping into the sector expertise of agencies are reaping the benefits and continuing their own journeys of career progression – even if they are dipping their toe into the world of AI.

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or perhaps have had your fingers burnt by a bad hire in the past, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice