Let me say it – I’m not happy.
Firstly it’s Monday morning, which is never a good thing.
Secondly I haven’t had a weekend because I’ve spent the whole of Saturday and Sunday doing DIY and then to crown it all I’ve woken up with a sore throat which is making it difficult to talk. Whilst this may lead to some blessed relief for the rest of the office it does put something of a dampener on your day when you normally spend at least 40-50% of your core hours on the telephone.
The phone is a key part of the armoury within legal recruitment; whilst the advent of the internet has meant that a lot of researching can be done from your desk, it is only by picking up the telephone and speaking to firms and candidates that you can build up enough market intelligence to ensure that you are ahead of the game. After all, if you don’t and it’s not on the firm’s website then you’re going to be well out of the loop.
Our belief is that we have a responsibility to our candidates to make sure that they have the best possible opportunity to secure their next position. This encompasses career counselling, advice on CVs and also making sure that candidates are fully briefed and prepared for interview, but it goes further than this. Any legal recruiter can sit there and wait for a client to instruct on a requirement, but by this time the role has already been advertised and the firm has about 40 other CVs for the candidate to compete against.
Those of us who have been in the legal recruitment market for some time are aware that the smart way of working is to be on the telephone to clients, both actual and potential, on a regular basis talking to them about their strategies and areas of growth over the coming months so that you know what is coming up well in advance.
This is obviously very good news for our candidates when they’re in the market for a new opportunity; if you can introduce them whilst the firm is still at the “we might think about recruiting a…” then the candidate stands a much better chance of being able to say “this is what I can offer” and the role gets tailored to their capabilities. If however the firm has reached the point of job specification, person specification, expected psychometric profile and have invited CVs from all and sundry then there it is likely that the firm has a fixed preconception of what it is they are after and thus may be less likely to consider applicants’ individual merits which may not match the job description.
This is also where the use of a legal recruiter can stand you in better stead than relying on direct approaches. Unless you are out of work and in a position to assess who the relevant decision maker is in every firm then it can be a real slog to get your CV in front of the right person. However due to the relationships that a recruiter builds with their clients, it is common that we can pick the phone up to the relevant partner and discuss our candidate’s qualities and sometimes even arrange an interview before a CV is ever submitted. In fact some of our relationships are strong enough that a CV doesn’t even change hands until an offer has been made and someone in personnel highlights that one is missing!
The use of the telephone to build market information also works to the benefit of clients. As well as speaking to candidates who are actively on the market, a good legal recruiter makes a policy of speaking to others who are ‘in the market’; ie those who wish to keep a watching brief of what is going on, interested in being kept informed if and when something interesting comes up. Again, sometimes this market intelligence is crucial when a firm is looking for a high calibre individual but when candidates of this nature may not be so actively looking that they are searching online job boards, or even have an up to date CV.
There is no doubt that the introduction of the internet and email has revolutionised the way in which business is conducted, but in terms of building up the market intelligence necessary to source roles effectively, the telephone still remains king. The old adage that people do business with people that they like remains as crucial today as it ever has, and there is no better way to build a rapport with someone than through a proper conversation.
After all, in the words of Confucius “it’s good to talk”.*
*(Actually it was Bob Hoskins on the BT adverts, but he doesn’t have quite the same gravitas.)