The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a game changer for the legal profession during 2020, and legal recruiters have been caught in the crosshairs. Thanks to job growth stagnation and hiring freezes, legal recruitment during COVID-19 has been exceedingly challenging.
Staying competitive in a post-COVID recruiting world requires the ability to address the evolving needs of your clients. If you’re a legal headhunter who’s concerned about hitting next year’s placement goals, here’s what your fellow recruiters have learned so far this year.
What Law Firms Need to Learn from COVID-19
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, July was the worst hiring month for legal employers in years, with only 1,900 jobs added. In other words, the average law firm across the country has had to weather the COVID-19 storm just like everyone else.
Thankfully, the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company recently reported that, based on historical trends, law firms are more likely to bounce back from COVID-19 than are other businesses, and for these reasons:
- They tend to weather downturns better than the overall economy does.
- COVID-19 has already stimulated, and will continue to stimulate, a wide spectrum of demand responses across legal sectors and practice areas.
- Regional exposure will be a key determining factor in which firms thrive versus those that don’t.
- Past economic downturns have accelerated long-term secular trends for law firms due to factors like write-offs, write-downs and increases in discounts.
McKinsey & Company’s report further points out that litigation-driven practice areas like labor, employment and healthcare will see dramatic demand shifts. On other hand, transactional practices are more likely to reassess their roles as they adapt to client needs in distressed sectors involving travel, transportation and leisure.
Next year COVID-19 testing on employees will be a hotly contested legal issue for in-house corporate legal departments, as well as for law firms that specialize in labor and employment issues. How to manage remote workers, litigate in virtual courtrooms and maximize smaller budgets are all challenges facing law firm partners in the COVID-19 Age.
What Adjustments Does COVID-19 Bring to the Recruitment Process?
Another operational hurdle facing employers is job recruiting and COVID-19, as the pandemic has forever reshaped the way legal professionals are recruited and hired. That’s also driven the need for legal headhunters to rethink the entire talent acquisition process as they also adjust accordingly in order to remain relevant.
Here are a few of the COVID-19 adjustments that recruiters will need to make next year:
- Virtual interviews. One of the advantages of face-to-face interviewing is reading body language and establishing trust. Getting to know a candidate and whether or not their personality meshes with that of your client is going to be more difficult as virtual screening interviews become the “new norm”.
- Market fluctuations. If your client base is filled with companies and firms in stagnant industries, it’s going to be hard to hit your recruiting quotas. Find creative ways to add clients that specialize in legal niches that will prosper during the COVID-19 Era. Certain international, regional, and local markets will bounce back faster than others, so be sure to increase your recruiting presence in those geographic areas.
- Digital footprint. With more target audience members now working from home, your digital marketing strategy must be up for the challenge. Be sure to update your website so that it’s mobile-friendly, SEO-focused and easy to navigate. Use online marketing tools like social media, LinkedIn, emails and pay-per-click (PPC) ads to improve client engagement and conversion rates.
Making the Most of Remote Interviews and Meetings
As a recruiter, the ability to video conference may be your biggest asset moving forward. Not only will it help you broaden your candidate pool, doing so will allow you to expand your recruiting presence into formerly untapped markets. Participating in video-based meetings with clients will become commonplace, at least until it’s safe to meet in person once again.
Here’s how to ensure that your remote interviews and meetings are more productive:
- Be sure that you are using the latest conferencing technology and that you have tested it beforehand. Zoom is a great platform for video chats.
- Let the candidate or client know in advance what will be covered, how they should prepare, and the video chat platform that you will be using.
- Have a backup plan ready in case there are any technical glitches.
- Speak to the camera (not their face) and use facial expressions that convey warmth and interest.
- Compile an outline prior to the online meeting.
- Make sure that the meeting environment is distraction-free.
- Some candidates may feel awkward or uncomfortable while doing a remote interview. If they just don’t seem to be acting “like themselves”, use their resume and references to guide your decisions. A social media screening service can also be a valuable screening and hiring resource.
- Minimize confusion by clearly communicating the next steps before signing off.
COVID-19’s Impact on Job Offers
There’s also been a noticeable COVID impact on job offers during the past year as selected hiring freezes, compensation reductions and layoffs pervade the legal industry. However, keep in mind that news sources tend to focus on the negatives as opposed to giving a more balanced perspective of how the economy is performing as whole, including the legal industry.
And although the legal job market is experiencing a sea of change right now, some employers are still hiring, which means there are attorney, paralegal and other legal staff positions that need to be filled. Since job offers are still being extended to qualified candidates, there are new business opportunities out there for you!
What many fellow recruiters have learned this year is that the job search-to-placement cycle is typically taking longer than usual. Hiring committee members at many mid- to large-sized firms have been focused on COVID-related priorities, which has driven the need for them to outsource at least some of their recruitment activities to professional headhunters.
As a recruiter, don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. Instead, continue to position yourself as a valuable resource for those you serve.
How the Coronavirus has Affected the Job Search for Attorneys
For attorneys seeking fresh career challenges COVID has created a job search environment that hasn’t been this competitive since the Great Recession of 2008-09. Factors like work-life balance, remote interviewing skills, practice specialties and company culture have become more important than ever before.
To learn how COVID has impacted legal headhunting firms this year, the Legal Recruiter Directory recently interviewed Mary Alice Kuykendall at Momentum Search Partners in Texas. Here’s a sample of the Q/A that took place during that interview:
Legal Recruiter Directory: “What was the biggest issue you faced during the pandemic?”
Momentum Search Partners: “Employers were uncertain about the future and their employees working remotely. Hiring during this time became complicated. Will this person begin working from home? What about training? Management?”
Legal Recruiter Directory: “How did you overcome this issue?”
Momentum Search Partners: “We continue to stay in touch with our clients whether they’re actively hiring or not. We also assisted our clients with outplacement services for laid-off and furloughed employees.”
Legal Recruiter Directory: “What was the biggest lesson you learned from the adjustments of the pandemic?”
Momentum Search Partners: “This year has been unlike any other. We stayed the course [by] staying in touch with our clients who did not have any job openings and our candidates who we did not have a job to offer them.”
Legal Recruiter Directory: “What advice would you give someone trying to navigate themselves through this time?”
Momentum Search Partners: “Recognize the unique times we’re living in and try to be as flexible and adaptable as possible.”
Digital Marketing Solutions in a Post-COVID World
As a legal recruiter, staying competitive in a post-COVID world requires a digital marketing strategy that addresses market changes. At the Legal Recruiter Directory, our forte is offering online branding solutions that help legal headhunters adapt and succeed.
Helping those we serve realize higher client engagement and conversion rates is something we excel at every day. The Legal Recruiter Directory also provides online support that helps legal recruiters place talented active or passive attorney candidates with prestigious law firms and corporations so that everyone wins.