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Why using the services of a Legal Recruitment Consultancy pays dividends in the current market

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

With the backdrop of a global pandemic, high levels of unemployment and a seismic shift to homeworking and digital solutions, looking for the next step in your legal career is certainly filled with challenges – whatever the drivers for doing so. And, whilst the word has been undoubtedly overused in many facets and channels in the last 12 months, navigating your way through the job market at present is certainly unprecedented for many legal professionals who, still mindful of career progression, can’t cut through the noise and clutter of many saturated verticals, talent shortages or opportunities that have presented themselves within the sector.

Last year we published a report looking at the general impact of COVID-19 on the UK economy and labour market, with specific analysis on regional variances and focused practice areas within Legal Private Practice. Stats and trends, particularly in Q1-Q2 2020, made for some unquestionably sober reading as some firms pulled up the shutters, paused hiring plans and minimised spend whilst they navigated a new world of virtual offices and the acceleration of digital solutions to support caseloads, collaboration and client management. Looking at the ONS Labour Market Statistics published only this week, there is little doubt that the labour market in general terms will take some time to recover, especially with the unknown impact of the end of the employee retention (furlough) scheme and other government initiatives on the legal sector. However, there are some encouraging statistics presented focused on the back end of 2020 - growth in average total pay (including bonuses), number of hours worked, as well as an uptick in the number of vacancies in the market. The REC measured 1.77 million job ads in December – a record for the year, which is encouraging indeed. At Clayton Legal we have certainly witnessed a shift in the second half of 2020 and more so this year to date in Law Firms that are tackling the business impact of COVID head on; finding (and embracing) solutions that mean they are once again pushing ahead (some areas at great speed) with growth, and in turn, hiring plans.

Admittedly, whilst it is our job to shout from the rooftops why Legal Professionals should use the services of a Recruitment Consultant to give them tangible competitive advantage, now more than ever, those who are tapping into sector expertise of agencies are reaping the benefits and continuing their own journeys of career progression.

Market Overview

Recruitment Consultants have a vested interest in understanding the sector in which you (and by extension, they) operate, and because of the trusted position that they have with Clients, they will undoubtedly be able to offer you market insight, practice-specific guidance as well as trends and activity they are experiencing in the recruitment cycle. Good agencies will have an in-depth knowledge of firms within your sector too – from Magic- and Silver-Circle Firms in the City to Boutique and High Street practices in more rural areas, a Consultant will be able to offer you impartial and professional guidance on the market as part of a truly consultative relationship that ensure you are fully armed and aware of your options.

Time better invested

We know from talking to our legal candidates that the Legal Sector is still somewhat notorious for long hours and overtime, and from research we are conducting currently, homeworking models have further compounded this issue as the office-commute is also diluted and the lines between family and work life are increasingly blurred.

Therefore, finding time to invest in job hunting is a big ask, even with the world of technology, multiple job boards and social media channels at your fingertips. There is no doubt that a good Recruitment Consultant will want to take time to understand your CV and experience inside out; your skills, your drivers for wanting to leave your current role, and ultimately your aspirations and goals – but this should be an investment that will pay dividends in better representing you in the market. Agencies that keep you updated on progress, whatever the outcome, are worth their weight in gold and should allow you to have confidence that they will search the market for roles that are a best fit on all fronts- freeing up time for you to focus on preparing for interviews and the sharper end of the process that will hopefully lead to an offer.

Access to the inside track

As the job market picks up, the volume in the digital world of job ads is cranked up – and can often be overwhelming, repetitive and vague. You may find as a candidate that you see the same role advertised in numerous places, or that the job description is so ambiguous you are left unsure if it’s a good fit. A Recruitment Consultant will not only help to cut through the noise but will also be able to furnish you with the finer detail of roles advertised far beyond a job spec. Culture, values, and ‘fit’ are hard to articulate in written ads, but Recruitment Consultants have often long-established relationships with Clients and can offer you the inside track on them as a potential employer.

In addition, many Recruitment Agencies will often have roles on exclusively – they have been entrusted to fill those positions by Clients who recognise their expertise in the market – and in turn, as a job seeker utilising the services of the Agency, you will have access to roles often before they hit joe public; giving you a head start on your own competition in the candidate pool.

Practical support with the basics – refined by experts.

Consultants know a good CV when they see one – and they see a lot. Even those working in professional services often benefit from practical tips on CV improvements and enhancements, particularly when making them bespoke to the role you are applying for. Take on board any guidance around interview preparation for particular clients to give you a fighting chance, as well as practical advice around the much-accelerated virtual hiring experiences being adopted by Recruitment Agencies and Law Firms alike in recent months.

The human touch

A professional Recruitment Agency should, in this day in age, have a world-class ‘tech stack’ that tangibly benefits their Clients and Candidates. Whether that is through systems that produces better matches between roles and candidate profiles or allows candidates to bring their professional profile to life – technology undoubtedly can aid the recruitment cycle and chance of success.

That being said, overwhelmingly where Recruitment Consultants excel is the personal touch that you get from speaking candidly, confidentially and openly with another person. Moving jobs can be draining, and whilst they may have their part to play, automatic job alerts and the like, pinging into your inbox just won’t offer the emotional support and empathy that you get from Consultants who are fully emersed and experienced in the recruitment cycle and all its nuances.

Salesperson, Negotiator, Arbitrator.

Recruitment Consultants are unashamedly sales-trained and commercially minded, and when you take those skills and couple them with a deep-rooted understanding of their clients, the result is professional representation from someone who knows how to sell ‘you’ – your experience, skill set, competencies and values – and leverage those elements with the non-negotiables of the client.

Moreover, once an offer is on the table, your Consultant will act as negotiator (sometimes arbitrator) with the Client in order to not only cover off some of the basics like remuneration and package, but set expectations around notice periods, start dates and the finer details of your contract. All without you having to have any forced or awkward conversations at the early stage in your relationship.

Service-led support throughout relationship

Support for legal professionals does not end once an offer has been accepted either. Many agencies will proactively offer guidance if required around resignation, how to combat counteroffers, and keep lines of communication open between all parties as you work your notice or are put on garden leave.

Agencies that offer real added-value to both Clients and Candidates will also build on the relationship you have built as you start your new role, and beyond – again, offering impartial guidance on passing probation, wider networking and professional development opportunities.

Whilst the world is still arguably in a state of flux in many ways across the economical spectrum, we are seeing real confidence once again in the UK Legal Sector with firms that are committed to their growth strategies and bringing in talent that supports their vision. As demand outstrips supply in several practice areas including Conveyancing, Family and Private Client, legal professionals who are now thinking beyond notice periods will find that now is a good time to strike and take action.

If you would like to speak to us confidentially about market conditions, opportunities in your practice area or geographical region, or if you are actively looking for a role and would like us to help give you that competitive edge, we would love to speak to you. Contact us or call the office on 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

 

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.

If you would like to access our free guides, view them all here.

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