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In-house legal recruitment - market update Q1 2015 – part two

In part one of this market update, Matthew Skilleter, associate director at Michael Page Legal talked about the current changes in South and South West legal departments, top tips for attracting candidates in a short-skilled market, and what is being hailed as this year’s ‘hot topic’. 
We are increasingly seeing high calibre individuals receiving multiple offers. However, the main challenge we face over the next 12 months will not be the number of jobs a candidate has to choose from but the reaction of their current employer when they resign.  A significant number of recruitment processes have collapsed at the final hurdle due to counter-offers from current employers.

Candidate behaviour

As the active candidate population continues to shrink we are seeing a notable increase in counter-offers from current employers. This extends to private practice as partners of legal firms are only too aware of the challenges of retaining and recruiting staff. We are already seeing national and regional firms match or better offers from in-house in order to retain their best and brightest. With the notable improvement in the market, many candidates are intrigued to know what is on offer elsewhere. In some cases, the salary differential is significant causing inquisitive candidates to become far more serious about making a move.
These are dangerous times and it is important that all parties understand the reasons for the move. Salary being the sole motivator should be seen as a major red flag to any future employer as this is easily countered by the candidates’ current business. This is where your recruitment consultant or internal recruitment team can really add value. Understanding the candidates’ drivers prior to committing to interview is critical as once they are engaged in a process the reason for the change can become clouded. 
Understanding why a candidate is interviewing with you is as important as why they are leaving their current employer. The more these factors dovetail the more chance you have of securing heart, mind and hopefully, a signature on a contract of employment. 

Looking ahead: in-house legal recruitment in 2015

Buy backs and counter-offers including promises of promotion or career advancement will continue to increase. I fully expect current employers to increase notice periods as a defensive measure as well as addressing any salary shortfall that may have manifested during the past few years. I also predict many employers will hold departing candidates to full notice periods as they will need to find suitable cover or replacements.
Although the market does look as if it will become increasingly challenging in 2015, legal departments are finally getting the support and backing they have requested for many years. These are difficult and exciting times for employers because work demands will not wait for recruitment to play catch up. However, with the right mindset, processes and partnerships in place, 2015 doesn’t have to be a year of near misses.
Are you looking to take the next step in your legal career? Are you looking to hire in-house legal talent? Or are you simply looking for some further advice on the legal recruitment market? Contact Matthew Skilleter, associate director at Michael Page Legal for a confidential discussion.
T: +44 118 955 9590