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How to make an irresistible offer to legal candidates

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

You want to be sure that your offer is irresistible enough to candidates that they bite, first time. So how can you do it? It’s not all about money. In fact, our recent legal salary survey showed that two-thirds (66%) of respondents offer flexible working – second only to the more traditional pension contribution.

This guide gives you the lowdown on how to handle the offer stage and ensure your firm employs the best talent. 

Communication

A phone call will give you another chance to speak with the candidate and allows you to make an initial verbal offer. Gauge their response; if they’re cagey it could be a sign they have eggs in other baskets. If they seem pleased and verbally accept you can feel reassured that it’s the right time to make a written offer. 

Speed

Sixty-seven per cent of law firms believe that a legal skills shortage is likely to hamper their growth. In a climate where the demand for legal professionals outstrips supply, you might want to think about making an offer sooner rather than later. Of course, it’s important that you weigh up your options and allow space to think about who is the best fit. Just don’t leave the candidate dangling for too long – they may just be snapped up by a competitor! 

Many employers, whether in the legal profession or otherwise, stipulate how long the offer of employment stands for. A week is usual, although you may wish to adjust this as per your firm’s circumstances. If a candidate hasn’t accepted within seven days, it could well signal that they weren’t as bought in as you’d hoped.  

Use employer branding to your advantage

Treat your employees – and potential employees – as you would your clients. Demonstrate why it’s so good to work with you and what other staff have gained, both professionally and personally, from working for your firm. Not only will a strong employer brand attract candidates to you, it will help encourage them to accept your offer, and will also help to retain them once they come on board. Our guide offers law firms in-depth insight into employer branding. 

Dodge the minefield of counter offers

You’ve found an outstanding candidate, made an offer and are eagerly awaiting them to return their signed contract. What you get in return is a counter offer. Maybe the candidate has had more money offered by their employer, or a competitor. Maybe they’re requesting a more extensive benefits package. Counter offers aren’t the end of the world and can be very revealing about what’s important to and motivates the candidate you’re interested in. 

But don’t get drawn into a bidding war. You may win the battle, although candidate indecision raises flags, and begs the question of whether they are playing two parties off for their own gain – in which case they perhaps aren’t the best fit for your practice. A trusted recruitment partner can sift through the candidates to highlight the best fit in terms of motives during the initial screening process, and save you the trouble of a counter offer later on. 

Counter offers in the legal profession are an incredibly common occurrence; try as you might – or your recruitment partner for that matter – it’s not always possible to avoid the situation. A combination of factors, such as Brexit and a shortage of skilled legal professionals makes for an uncertain job market. The bad news for employers is that uncertainty breeds caution as legal professionals choose to stick with what they know rather than go out on a limb. On the up side, treat your existing staff well and you may find that an uncertain climate helps you retain talent.

Non-starters

It’s frustrating, although try not to let it faze you and remember that life happens. Give the benefit of the doubt to the candidate and – maddening though it may be – resist the urge to go in guns blazing if someone doesn’t show as there may be a simple explanation. And keep your employer brand in mind: if the candidate has a bad experience they’ll tell their network and that might make recruitment difficult in future.

The best offer

All stages of the recruitment process require careful thought and planning, and none more so than the offer stage. This crucial final hurdle to placing the right candidate decides the success of the whole operation.

If you’re in need of some support in navigating this, download our latest guide – or while at any – stage of your recruitment process why not contact Clayton Legal, either online using our call scheduling service or contact form.

Alternatively, you can phone us on 01772 259 121 - we’d be happy to help you seal the deal with promising candidates.

And if you do find yourself in the position of having to deal with a counter offer, you may find our blog ‘How to handle a counter offer situation’ helpful.

You may also like to download our latest report on trends in law: The 7 critical recruitment trends in law that will impact your talent pipeline in 2019.

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