The COVID-19 pandemic upended a hiring landscape in which employers could be selective about which candidates they would hire. For the past few years, a significant number of employers have needed help finding the right talent to fill job vacancies. Recent data collected by LinkedIn shows that:
- 76% of hiring managers surveyed cite attracting qualified candidates for a job opening as their greatest difficulty
- The top candidate available to fill any given position is off of the market after 10 days
- 3 out of 4 recruiters say they have had an applicant change their mind about a job after initially accepting an offer
- 75% of employees and job seekers say they would not accept a position under any circumstances with a company that had a bad reputation
The legal industry is not immune to these trends.
You and your firm may have experienced your own difficulties in hiring legal assistants and other professionals. In the current hiring environment, it can be tempting to jump at and hire the first suitable applicant interested in an open position, even if there are better candidates to fill the role. However, this will cost you money in the long run.
Classic Wisdom Urges Caution in This New Employment Landscape
After former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson uttered the proverb “A stitch in time saves nine” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the BBC reported a surge in people searching out the adage’s meaning. This maxim urges you to take timely and deliberate preventive action to prevent larger, more costly corrective measures later.
According to the BBC, this saying first appeared in a sewing book in 1723. The simple image painted by the words depicts a small tear in a fabric that can become a large, gaping hole if not promptly addressed.
One timely stitch may mend the small tear; however, if the tear is allowed to become a large hole, more drastic and intensive measures will be necessary.
How One Hiring “Stitch” Can Save You Nine “Stitches” Later
This proverb is just as applicable in the context of hiring law firm support staff as it is in sewing. Fixing your hiring issues with one thoughtful and timely “stitch” saves you from creating a more significant problem that strains the fabric of your firm.
If you are struggling to fill a vacancy in your law office, beware of the following lapses. These are short-term solutions that may not serve your interests or those of your firm:
Doing Nothing at All
There is always a chance that the perfect candidate will appear out of nowhere and ask for a job with your firm without you having to lift a finger. However, this rarely happens — at least in our experience.
In the meantime, the longer your vacancy remains unfilled, the less effective your team will likely be. You will be limited in your ability to grow, and your existing team’s morale may also suffer when a vacancy is unfilled for a long time.
Therefore, while it is the easiest and least demanding course, doing nothing will not likely solve your hiring needs. Instead, make a stitch in time to keep the problem from escalating: Take action as soon as you learn a position will be vacant.
Hiring the Wrong Candidate
If you are having trouble filling a vacancy, filling the role with the first applicant willing to accept the position may be tempting. We find that some firms overlook things about candidates that would suggest they might not be a great fit:
- Lack of relevant experience
- Spotty or inconsistent job history
- Lack of commitment to your firm’s values and mission
- Demonstrated lack of interpersonal skills
Bringing on a candidate with these or other flaws just to fill a vacancy is a hasty move that can lead to additional problems. The discord that such a person can sow in your organization will threaten the morale and cohesiveness of your team. You may have to terminate the problematic hire or risk other staff leaving, creating more vacancies.
The Right “Stitch”: Take Your Time and Hire Intentionally
It may seem counterintuitive, but taking your time when screening and hiring candidates can be the one stitch that saves you nine later.
Identify the essential functions of the position you are hiring for and do not compromise with candidates. If you require someone who can come into your firm knowing how to draft legal documents or use certain software, bringing in someone without this knowledge will frustrate you and the candidate.
As important as skills and knowledge are, pay attention to the candidate’s personality. You can teach someone to use a software program, but you can’t teach a person to have attention to detail, be a team player, or even be respectful. You will benefit by choosing someone whose working comfort zone aligns with your expectations.
If a candidate does not strike you as one who would fit in your firm’s culture, consider passing and waiting for a better match. The additional work created by keeping a vacancy open longer will be less damaging than the frustration and cost of bringing someone on board just to see them leave shortly after.
How Woven Legal Can Help Your Firm Succeed
At Woven Legal, we understand how challenging it can be to find the right legal professional to tie into the fabric of your firm. Whether your firm’s open position was just announced or has remained vacant for months, we can help connect you with the right person for your opening.
Woven Legal helps attorneys see more clients and grow revenue by placing high-caliber, proactive virtual legal professionals to serve them.
Contact us and book a discovery call with Woven Legal to learn more about our services and the value we can provide to your firm.