The ever-elusive “purple squirrel” in the legal talent search world

“In the world of talent recruiting and human resources, there is a creature known as the purple squirrel, which is the code name for the perfect employee”. In the legal profession, the purple squirrel has the right academic pedigree, work experience, solid book of business, winning track record, works 16 hours a day, 365 days a year, and will accept whatever pay her employer is willing to offer. They are almost as hard to find as the Loch Ness Monster. In an Above the Law article, Shannon Achimalbe contends that going with the next best candidate, someone who is exceptional but imperfect, is truly the better option for employers.

Why would going with a less than ideal candidate be best? It seems counter-intuitive. For one, it takes a significantly longer time to find, and in the meantime, billable hours are lost and other staff has to unwillingly pick up the slack. Furthermore, if attained, the purple squirrel will likely expect to be treated accordingly, meaning expecting to be catered on his every whim, creating tensions with management and colleagues.

Looking for someone exceptional who shows promise and drive that could improve with the right training is prudent. Holding out only for the purple squirrel may not only waste valuable firm time, but has the potential to be a bad investment as well. Law firms should take this into consideration and ensure they are utilizing the most efficient hiring processes possible.

Source: http://abovethelaw.com/2015/09/back-in-the-race-stop-trying-to-hire-the-purple-squirrel/?rf=1

How Can Law Firms Keep Top Talent from Slipping Away

One thing is for sure: the war for legal talent will continue unremitting into the foreseeable future. A Law360 article discusses how law firms can prevent their top talent from jumping to another one, and conducted a survey that determined that attorneys are more likely to stay put if their law firm has advancement opportunities than if they are being paid a generous sum but feeling stagnant in their current position.

It’s always important to focus on the long-term. Even if a firm is trying to save money by delaying promotions, based on the findings of this survey, it would be a wise investment to cater to the 89% of attorneys who reported that they were both “very dissatisfied” with their firm’s opportunities for advancement and that they were “very likely” or “likely” to look for a new job within the next year. Firms can do this by placing a bigger emphasis on communicating with their employees the timeline and requirements necessary before promotions are considered.

Source: Law360

The Elephant in the Room: Discussing Compensation in the Interview Process

In the hiring and interviewing processes, compensation is more often than not a touchy subject, and can be a deal-maker or deal-breaker for the talent the company wants. Timing is essential in job interviews, especially regarding the discussion of salary. It is important to recognize the when it is most conducive to broach these matters for both candidates and employers, and to attempt to find that sweet spot.

One of the benefits to working with a recruiter is that he or she will likely be the one doing the dirty work and negotiating salary. However, both sides should still know how to address the issue if it comes up. According to an article on Business Insider, an IT recruiter,Dan Martineau, notes that “the best employers don’t focus on money until the very end, and the same goes for candidates”. For the candidate, it is much more appropriate to discuss salary once the company has expressed a sense of commitment. In the first meeting, the candidate should be focused mostly on selling his/her skills to the employer, and deflect the compensation issue until later on.

On the employer side, although it may feel like a cruel game to candidates, it is important for them to hold their cards closer to their vest– compensation is traditionally not disclosed until the offer. This is because everyone assumes that they are on the top of the pay scale, and if a job is advertised at a range at which the company offers a lower amount on that range, the candidate would be unhappy even if he or she would have been happy with that amount having never known the range in the first place.

Being aware of the etiquette around compensation discussion is key in the interview process, and mastering the art of timing is everything.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-to-say-when-an-interviewer-asks-about-salary-2014-11

How to get headhunted

It’s not about finding the ideal legal role, it’s about it finding you. Good employers searching for quality lawyers aren’t going to be posting on public job boards, either. That’s where hiring a knowledgeable headhunter comes into play.

Headhunters don’t waste time with a “scattergun approach”, but meticulously research a long list of candidates before even deciding to initially reach out. If you want to be on their radar, Jason Elias, a recruiter in the Australia legal community, highlights six things you could be doing to put yourself a cut above the rest.

  1. If you’re not already building a profile for yourself, start now: you’ll never be headhunted if no one has heard of you. Make sure that you connect with the people on LinkedIn that you are connected with in business, that you are active within your professional community, and that you come across as an expert in your field.
  2. Don’t be shy about tooting your own horn: make sure you are detailed with what you have accomplished and worked on and the value you have brought in your current and past jobs.
  3. Give off subtle signals: as in, do not change your LinkedIn status to “Currently seeking new opportunities”. Consider updating your experience, and change your Inmail settings to notify others that you are open to hearing about “career opportunities”, so that headhunters can reach you.
  4. Make yourself reachable: provide an email or phone number where you can be reached, or make sure to keep up with your LinkedIn, because if a headhunter struggles to reach you, he or she will move onto the next one on their list.
  5. Don’t breach etiquette: don’t tell anyone in your firm about your plans to move, never approach the employer directly (they’re using a headhunter for a reason). You don’t want to jeopardize your current position as well as any new one.
  6. Take advantage of the resources that a headhunter has to offer: the headhunter will most times be highly knowledgeable about the state of the market and trends, and can be used as your trusted source of intelligence on the employer as well. Even if the specific opportunity isn’t right at the time, you never know when something else might come up in their sphere of influence that could be.

Surprisingly enough, following these simple tips makes a huge difference on whether or not you end up on a headhunter’s short list of candidates to approach for a top tier position. Make sure you’re doing what you can to keep your good side showing even when you don’t know you’re showing it.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-get-headhunted-jason-elias-

On the legal industry embracing social media

As unnatural (and sometimes risky) as it is for lawyers to embrace social media, the New York State Bar Association came out and called it an “indispensable” tool for legal professionals. While the profession is based on leather-bound books and a reverence for the past, the industry is changing rapidly to keep up with the times. Here are a few ways Bloomberg has noted that the legal profession has already embraced the social media revolution:

  1. Law firms are going virtual to keep up with the trend of reducing waste and increasing inefficiency while maintaining quality: a more fast-paced, culturally modern, tech-centric model where lawyers have more flexible schedules and firms have reduced some of their overhead expenses.
  2. Virtual lawyers: lawyers work more remotely, and have access to a larger client base. One of the noted downsides to this, however, is that there is a lack of direct access to coworkers where the Internet is an inappropriate arena to discuss some matters.
  3. Law firm marketing now almost all includes social media strategy.

There may be some aspects of social media where the legal profession is indeed behind the curve, but the industry really has clearly taken big strides. The truth of the matter is that there are some aspects of practice that cannot be easily replaced with technology, but where it can lean out, it should.

Source: https://bol.bna.com/get-social-why-the-legal-industry-needs-to-embrace-social-networking/

Reducing Bad Hires

Spending thorough time and effort when making a hire may seem like a headache when a business is in dire need of talent, and fast. However, Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 Talent Acquisition Study found that a majority of organizations of all sizes make bad hires every year, and analyzed the significantly larger financial burden that ensues from doing so, proving that doing the footwork is all the more worth it. So how can companies be smarter about their hiring decisions?

The key criteria for quality of hire is new hire productivity, hiring manager satisfaction, and organizational fit. Recruiters must properly assess candidates from the sourcing phase through the entire interview phase in order to be able to properly ascertain if the candidate is the right fit.

There are several things that companies themselves or outside recruiters can do in the talent acquisition process to make the right hire:
– Focus on employer branding in order to convey company culture
– Utilize behavioral and peer-to-peer interviews
– Focus on the candidate experience to ensure he or she will perform, stay motivated, and want to stay with the organization
– Provide recruiters and hiring managers with the tools to ask the right questions to evaluate candidates
– Look past hard skills
– Assess candidates often

The solution to reducing bad hires is multi-faceted and requires a significant amount of effort in the short-run, but is an investment with a much higher return for the company’s long-term success.

Source: Brandon Hall Group Talent Acquisition Study 2015, http://b2b-assets.glassdoor.com/the-true-cost-of-a-bad-hire.pdf

Letter from the CEO

mpd partners is founded on the philosophy that in order for this firm to thrive, we must build long standing trust based relationships that allow us to produce results.  My survival of over 18 years in the legal industry is due to truly understand how the business and the recruiting world works. The essential key in the recruiting equation is to develop and maintain long standing relationships. For us to build these relationships, it is imperative for us to take the time to know and understand your firms and companies. Once we know the ins and outs of the law firms and companies which we work with, we are able to form an adaptable partnership, which adds value your prospective hires.

We understand today’s business and hiring challenges, and share the common goals of our clients in attracting, retaining and improving the most important aspect of any organization – its people. mpd partners strives to be different from other businesses in that we value our relationships so much that we see them as the bedrock of our company. To that end, mpd partners believes that in order for us to do an outstanding job, to produce results, we must build strong friendships based on trust, with all of our clients.

Sincereley,

Elizabeth Dahill

CEO of mpd Partners, LLC

Social Media, a Candidate’s Threat and Opportunity

With the creation of social media, our personal information is now easily searchable by employers. In fact, a majority of employers utilize social media to influence their hiring decisions. Many of these companies find information on social media sites which disparages the candidates. However, companies report that information on social media can boost a candidate’s likelihood of employment. In order to survive in the new easy information world, a candidate must use social media and use it wisely.

Since these social media outlets are almost all public, they pose as a threat and an opportunity for a potential new hire.  A survey of over 400 employers illuminated these facts: 62% of those companies researched facebook for potential candidates, 45% looked at twitter, and 44% looked at Linkedin. These companies are utilizing social media to research their candidates because  of its extreme low cost and high payoff.

These companies are not only looking at the social information of the candidates, but they are also taking action. As a threat to new hires, 42% of those companies that do search social media found content which caused them to reject a candidate. The survey said  that the most common reasons for eliminating a candidate include posting information about drinking or using drugs (33%), as well as posting inappropriate photographs or information(28%).

However, social media also serves as an opportunity for candidates.  45% of those companies searching said that they found content which led them to hire a candidate. Reasons for hiring include a candidate’s background information supporting their professional qualifications (38%) and believing that the candidate’s personality would be a good fit with the company (27%).

With the downside threat in mind, a candidate may consider avoiding social media altogether. But, this tactic might even hinder a candidate; with 35% of employers saying they are less likely to interview job candidates if they do not have an online presence. Therefore, a candidate should either continue using social media wisely, or begin to use it.

Since candidates are now forced into using social media, there are other actions they can avoid to keep abreast of the competition. They need to ensure that their spelling and grammar are on point to sidestep demerits from 66% of companies. Candidates should also avoid the pitfall of expressing their political views, as this is often viewed poorly in the eyes of a hiring manager (16%). Furthermore, the majority of hiring managers disfavor posts which are gun centric (51%).

Companies have taken to using social media by storm to gather information on their potential candidates. This adoption by employers poses a remediable threat and an overwhelmingly grand opportunity for candidates. In order to succeed in the new social media age, candidates should keep their posts tame, create a persona which buttresses their professional qualifications, and lastly show that they are a likable person.

http://www.huntscanlon.com/Pages/Body/HumanCapital.aspx?topicid=13467

http://time.com/money/3510967/jobvite-social-media-profiles-job-applicants/

http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/job-seeker-not-post-social-media/

Manufacturing Stimulus and its Spillover Effects on the Service Sector

Recent Colorado legislation stimulating the manufacturing industry will benefit service oriented firms as well as manufacturing firms.

On May 18, 2015 the Colorado Legislature passed HB-1274 to propel Colorado’s manufacturing industry.  The bill creates a manufacturing “Career Pathway,” the goal of which is to prepare students to a full occupational proficiency after completion of the program. “Career Pathways is defined as a series of connected education and training strategies and support services that enable individuals to secure skills and then obtain employment in a specific occupational area.” In addition to the creation of the manufacturing pathway, there are plans to implement this strategy in construction, information technology, and health care industries. Furthermore, this manufacturing tailored bill is not the first of its kind for Colorado.

In fact, in 2013 the legislature approved the Advanced Industries Acceleration Act, which is a grant program designed to facilitate growth and collaboration within multiple industries, including advanced manufacturing. Days later, the governor approved the Advanced Industries Export Acceleration Program which focuses its efforts on buttressing the Colorado export economy. The Export Acceleration Program provides grants to multiple industries, also including advanced manufacturing. These three programs show the legislature’s serious interest in a strong manufacturing sector.

Colorado’s recent efforts to stimulate its manufacturing sector bode well for a strong regional economy as a whole as well as the manufacturing sector itself. This legislation is not working to create just a few jobs, it is focused on creating a manufacturing mecca. Because of the legislature’s interest in creating job educated individuals through collaboration of businesses and learning institutions, along with their export and growth initiatives, Colorado as a global manufacturing hub is entirely possible.  Colorado is already home to a diverse manufacturing industry, including manufacturing of advanced materials such as: electronics and consumer products, clean energy systems, aerospace vehicles (3rd in the country), and medical devices. In all, 5,900 manufacturing firms and more than 132,800 employees work and live in Colorado. Though Colorado only ranks 32d among the states in manufacturing numbers, this metric will likely change with the interest of the legislature. Colorado as a global manufacturing hub is on the horizon.

The manufacturing stimulus is expected to bring growth to the service sector. Because of the manufacturing sector’s usage of local goods and services to do business, manufacturing has a large indirect employment multiplier. Due to the large employment multiplier effect, this commitment to manufacturing stimulus should fall well on service sector ears. Through Nicholas Kaldor’s research, we have learned that growth, even long term, is investment driven. The stimulus, given the presence of the manufacturing employment multiplier, through growth in manufacturing will act as an investment into the service sector and will produce long term growth for the sector.

In time, if this legislative commitment stays strong, Colorado law firms will likely see more manufacturing work. Further, firms working with sectors that provide inputs to manufacturing such as energy and natural resources, construction, accounting, and engineering, will also experience increases in work volume due to the legislative interest.

Sources:

Harald Hageman & Stephen Seiter, Growth Productivity, and Emp’t Consequences of the New Information and Commc’n Tech.s in Germany and the U.S. 101 (2004).

H.B. 1275, 70th Gen. Assemb., 1st Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2015).

H.B. 1193, 69th Gen. Assemb., 1st Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2013).

H.B. 1001, 69th Gen. Assemb., 1st Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2013).

Advanced Manufacturing, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, http://www.advancecolorado.com/key-industries/advanced-manufacturing.

EPI: Manufacturing Jobs Pay Well, The Colorado Springs Business Journal (Jan. 27, 2015), http://www.csbj.com/2015/01/27/epi-manufacturing-jobs-pay-well/

Brian Lewandowski, Colorado’s Manufacturing Employment Growth Third-Fastest Nationally in Dec. Jobs Report, Company Week (Feb. 3, 2015, 01:32 pm), http://companyweek.com/articles/colorados-manufacturing-employment-rebounded-at-a-top-10-pace-in-december-j.

Robert E. Scott, The Manufacturing Footprint and the Importance of U.S. Manufacturing Jobs, Economic Policy Institute (Jan. 22, 2015), http://www.epi.org/publication/the-manufacturing-footprint-and-the-importance-of-u-s-manufacturing-jobs/.

Firms Must Be Integrated for Mergers to Be Successful

Many mergers fail  because there were red flag issues evident beforehand which firms either ignored or failed to resolve. However, even when this is not the case, some mergers still fail. This can be because management did not address the integration of the firms after the official merger. There are several things that management should do to ensure that a merger is successful.

a. Give priority to human due diligence: People issues are often at the root of failed mergers. Prevent a “we” and “they” attitude by…

b. Communication: More communication is needed after the merger than before. There are several ways to maintain communication, including: 1) having the Managing Partner/ CEO be visible and available, 2) publish frequent newsletters on what is going on, and what will happen going forward, 3) update a directory of all personnel, 4) draft a temporary Procedures Guide and distribute to everyone

c. Hold a partners’ retreat, a retreat for key administrative personnel, and all lawyers.

d. Make sure major clients and key clients see the benefits of the merger.

e. Establish criteria to measure teh success of the merger, and track them.

Successfully integrating firms after a merger requires considerable extra work and can take as long as two years. But the only alternative– a merger that fails– is not acceptable.

Source: http://www.robertdenney.com/pdf/comm-legal-2015-01.pdf