5 Mistakes Law Firms Make When Hiring IT Staff

Law firms, who are hiring IT staff, need to be wary of making the following, easily-avoidable mistakes. By steering-clear of these recruitment blunders, you will increase your chances of hiring and retaining the right person for the job, as well as making the right impression with the candidates who encounter your firm.

Below, we will unravel five of the most common mistakes that law firms make when hiring IT staff. But before we do that; let’s take a look at why it’s so important for legal firms to get their IT recruitment right.

Why It’s Important For Law Firms Hiring IT Staff To Get It Right

According to Law.com, law firms who embrace technology, and understand the importance of IT, are reaping huge benefits as a result. These benefits include increased efficiency, heightened productivity and the ability to be more competitive in today’s digital world.

But underpinning your firm’s technological innovations will be the people who can make them a reality for you. In other words, if you want superb IT capabilities, a superb IT team is essential. Which is why it’s so important to get IT recruitment right.

So with that in mind, let’s look at five mistakes law firms should avoid at all costs when finding IT staff.

Mistake #1:Only Looking For IT Staff With A Law Background

A big mistake that law firms hiring IT staff often make is exclusively looking for IT professionals who have a background in a legal environment. It makes sense. You want somebody who understands the needs of a law firm, as well as having IT skills. But often, this is an unnecessary limitation to your recruitment efforts. And not only that, but it also limits the innovations that your new hire may bring to your firm.

Law, as a general rule, has a reputation for being behind the times when it comes to technology. And while this is beginning to change in 2020, there is still much room for improvement.

By hiring somebody who has only worked in IT in a legal practice, you are missing out on the insights that could come as a result of hiring somebody who has seen the innovative tech being used in other sectors.

As well as this, from time to time, you may need to hire somebody with an uncommon skill set. This could be a developer who codes in a less-popular programming language, for example. It would be much easier to find somebody from another sector and teach them how the legal sector works.

That’s not to say that you won’t be able to find good IT professionals with a law background. However, the main point here is that you shouldn’t discredit a candidate because they don’t already work in law.

Mistake #2: Taking Too Long To Get Back To Candidates and Recruiters

We find this issue crops up with companies in all sectors, but law firms hiring IT staff should be especially considerate of taking too long to get back to people during the recruitment process.

We understand, we really do. Law firms are busy places. So much goes into the legal side of the business, that sometimes things, such as hiring a new IT employee, can get lost in the noise. However, this can have a negative impact on your recruitment efforts. And I’ll explain why.

In today’s digital world, IT talent is highly sought after. And experienced, proficient IT professionals (especially ones with less-common skills) are like gold dust. As soon as they’re on the job boards, they’re as good as spoken for. They will be inundated with a mountain of propositions from recruiters and companies alike.

So with that in mind, time is of the essence. For best success, try and be prompt when responding to correspondences with recruiters, as well as when you send interview and job offers. Being complacent can mean missing out on a star candidate.

Image Of Sand Timer - Law Firms Hiring IT Staff

Mistake #3: Trying To Tick ALL Boxes With Your Hire

There is no such as thing as the perfect candidate. At Blues Point, we call them unicorns. We see firms spending so much time looking for somebody who ticks ALL of the boxes. But in doing this, they miss out on some fantastic candidates.

For example, we’ve noticed that legal firms often only want to hire IT staff with a certain level of relevant formal qualification, such as a degree. And while this makes complete sense for legal hires, it doesn’t necessarily translate in the realms of IT.

There is an abundance of excellent IT talent out there who don’t have relevant qualifications. But, thanks to their own resourcefulness, they have acquired the skills to function in their role just as well as somebody with a degree in computer science, for example.

So if you were to let qualifications take a back seat, what factors should you be basing your hiring decisions on?

What You Should Be Looking For In Your New IT Hire

There are several options, all of which are worth considering in conjunction with each other. They are as follows:

  1. Examples of previous work. It’s all well and good a candidate knowing the theory behind how something works. But have they put theory into practice? This lends itself better to some IT roles more than others. Web developers, for example, should be able to produce a portfolio of work for you to look at. First line support engineers, however, will not, but they should still be able to provide specific details on their previous work.
  2. Technical Testing. At Blues Point, we encourage our clients to make full use of our technical testing services. We use a provider called IKM, who offer off-the-shelf assessments for almost every aspect of IT. Our clients get a great deal of value out of this as it allows them to get a real insight into how well their candidate understands the technical aspects of the role they’re applying for. Whether they have a degree or not, this form of assessment will show if they truly understand the subject matter required to perform effectively in the role.
  3. Behavioural Assessments. Again, behavioural assessments are something we include as part of our IT recruitment process. They’re a fantastic way of getting an idea of how your candidate will function within your firm. They will give you an indication of the candidate’s soft skills, as well as whether they will be a good cultural fit.

As a general rule, we would always recommend finding somebody with the right behaviours, even if their technical abilities aren’t quite where they need to be just yet. This is simply because technical skills can be learned. Behaviours are often ingrained and much harder to modify or unlearn.

In the video below, Steph looks at the argument between skills and attitude in more depth:

 

Mistake #4: Using Too Many Recruitment Agencies

We would never recommend using more than one recruitment agency. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that using multiple agencies is recruitment suicide. Why? Well, there are several reasons. The first being that, if there are multiple agencies working on the same vacancy, none are likely to put 100% of their resources into filling it.

Assigning multiple agencies to the same role completely changes the process. In exclusive recruitment, the agency has the time and confidence to use their full processes. They’re able to put their full resources behind finding the right person for your firm. They have the freedom to use tools such as technical testing and behavioural assessments. And they can offer services such as conducting preliminary interviews on your behalf to ensure you’re only meeting with the very best candidates.

However, in contingency recruitment (where more than one agency is used), it’s simply about being the first to put the right CV in front of the client. There are no assessments, no processes for qualifying the candidate; simply find CVs that look like they may be about right and get them in front of the hiring company as soon as possible. And while it might seem like the quickest way to get results, there are many downsides to this style of recruitment that you should be aware of.

As you can imagine, this method isn’t conducive to high-quality hires.

If you’d like to learn more about the key differences between these two different methods of recruitment, read our blog post on contingency recruitment vs retained recruitment here.

Mistake #5: Not Onboarding New Hires Properly

Onboarding is something that we encourage our clients to put some real thought into, here at Blues Point. And if you’re a law firm hiring IT staff, it should be something that you’re making sure you’re getting right too.

What often happens is that companies put a great deal of effort into finding the right person for the job, but they don’t put an equal amount of effort into ensuring this person has a smooth and enjoyable transition into the company. And the result? Lack of confidence from their new recruit; confusion, disconnection and probably a letter of resignation a few weeks down the line.

It really does happen just like that. Almost three-quarters of companies have no formal onboarding process, or an onboarding process which is only partially successful. And according to Harvard Business Review, 33% of new hires look for a new job within 6 months of being hired. And this statistic is even higher for millennials. So how can you turn this around?

First things first, have an onboarding plan in place. You should have a process for how you’re going to take your firm’s new IT recruit from job offer through to completing their probationary period – and beyond.

How To Improve Your Onboarding Process

Here are a few simple onboarding ideas to consider:

  • Maintain regular but not overwhelming contact during their notice period –  keep them updated with relevant information regarding their role. You could also send some resources that they may find useful.
  • Invite them out to a team social event before they officially start working for your company – the key here is making them feel part of the team BEFORE their first day. By inviting them to a casual team lunch, for example, they will also feel less apprehensive about starting because they will have already met all of the people they will be working with.
  • Have their desk and equipment ready and waiting for them on day one – no new employee likes to feel as though their arrival is an afterthought. By getting a welcome package ready for them, you will demonstrate that you are eager for them to start. It’s basic stuff but it really works.
  • Schedule regular catch-up meetings – again, this is basic stuff but it’s essential for nurturing a healthy working relationship with your new employee. Make sure you’re taking time out to find out how they’re doing. Encourage honest feedback and listen to what they have to say.

To see how Blues Point approach on-boarding, take a look at this blog post, written by me, about my experience of being brought into the company.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully these tips will be useful when your law firm needs to hire IT staff in the future. A comprehensive and well thought-out IT recruitment strategy is an investment. Putting together a strong and capable IT team will pay dividends for your firm as a whole.

If you have any questions about how you can improve the recruitment process at your law firm, get in touch with us today. We’d be more than happy to answer any queries that you may have.

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