Prior to becoming a Director at Blue Pencil, I spent 27 years in HR of which 15 years were spent in Director level roles, most recently focused on the legal sector.
In the world of HR, some have a less than charitable view of recruiters who they feel are continuously chasing them either for business or updates on the candidates they have put forward. Although I like to think that I have always treated suppliers reasonably, I too previously found myself on occasion avoiding calls from recruiters who were desperately trying to find out about the progress of candidates they had sent through.
Whilst overly salesy recruiters have undoubtedly affected people’s perceptions of the recruitment business, I realise more clearly now I am on the other side of the fence that the equation is not so straight forward. The quest for feedback is a basic human need and recruitment is about the placement of humans not the promotion or sale of goods. As a firm, we represent lawyers who are intelligent and articulate individuals who quite rightly expect to know where they stand if they have been put forward for a vacancy that a client has asked us to fill.
Getting timely feedback for candidates on occasion can be really challenging. Having personally overseen a number of internal HR functions, I readily appreciate that the demands upon them have increased enormously whilst the pace of staffing has not. Although I may understand that this is one factor behind slow or at times non- existent candidate feedback, the individuals we represent simply see a lack of traction which can easily translate into frustration and disappointment with the whole process. Maintaining communication with candidates even when you receive no updates from clients is vital. Despite everything we hear, there is still a shortage of experienced candidates in many niche areas of the law and if they do not feel they are being dealt with responsively by one employer, they will look at others.
With the best will in the world, some selection processes are inherently complex and can involve a myriad of internal stakeholders. In these instances, it falls on the recruitment consultant to manage expectations around progress. Partner selection processes by their very nature fall into this category as well as appointments which cut across more than one budget holder/stakeholder. Being realistic with likely feedback timeframes can help although it is still vital that there is some form of ongoing communication in order to maintain a candidate’s interest and morale.
Overall, moving into the legal recruitment profession has shown me that all parties actually have a vested interest in making sure that candidates know what is going on in a timely manner. For those of my HR colleagues who flinch each time they see a call from a recruiter, I would simply remind them that once a candidate has entered into a selection process, they have a right to know where they stand. Silence is not golden!
Chris Lipscomb is a Director at Blue Pencil Legal and the former HR Director of Al Tamimi, the largest regional law firm in the Middle East. Aside from advising clients on suitable candidates for their opportunities, Blue Pencil provides interview skills training and coaching/development for lawyers in the UK and globally.