The historic recruitment model to recruit staff has been either to appoint recruitment agents to find suitable staff or to advertise for staff in trade publications.

Recruitment firms generally provide a pro-active service and act as an intermediary between the employer and candidate. In good times the recruitment firm can expect to receive commission in the region of a third of the employee’s first year salary. Such high commission fees have provided a significant barrier and hurdle for early stage companies in recruiting staff and therefore have potentially restricted the growth of many companies.

Advertising for staff has generally been undertaken by advertising directly in trade press publications and also on-line. However, advertising is a passive form of recruiting and its success is derived partly from the number of people who access the publication whether online or otherwise. Advertising has generally been targeted at specific trade publications and not directly to specific candidates. An example would be advertising in the Law Society Gazette. The success of the advertising campaign is determined by those solicitors who read or access the Gazette and find the advertisement and then follow up, which potentially means there is some uncertainty as to whether you will get the right candidates.

In more recent times, it has been possible to recruit via social media platforms. The advantages of such platforms are that they are quite simple to use, it is cost effective and can be as little as £50 a month, and for such a low fee you can reach out to multiple candidates and therefore in theory it is possible to recruit for multiple positions in the firm.

In addition it enables you to approach candidates directly in much the same way as recruitment firms have done. It is a pro-active form of recruitment which takes some uncertainty out of the recruitment process in that you can choose who to approach. It is however limited by the number of people registered on the particular social media platform.

“Recruiter” from LinkedIn

My firm has recently been using the Recruiter Lite platform provided by Linkedin which helps employers find and hire “top professionals”. You can see more about this by searching for “Recruiter” in LinkedIn and then choosing the Recruiter feature. There is a lot of information available there and you can set it all up (and then access it) from your general Linkedin account.

For the “Recruiter Lite” feature (quite adequate for a normal firm) the fee is around £50 a month and for that you get a defined number of email credits. You can use each email to contact a potential candidate and let them know that you are interested in them and you can also provide a description of the potential vacancy.

How it works

All you need to do is to type keywords into the search function such as “corporate solicitors”, then use the Recruiter Lite search filters, where for instance you could state the location of your target search, and thereby search and generate the most relevant profiles for your campaign. You can also see search results, with full names and profiles for the “third degree network” which is the network outside the scope of the free Linkedin account and which generally means approximately 35x as many profiles as can be searched or seen with a free LinkedIn account.

Once you have undertaken a search, the platform enables you to save individual profiles so you can easily access them at any time in the future. It also allows you to add notes to each profile, such as details of communications with the person, and also assign them to named folders, which could include details of the role that you are seeking to fill.

Once you have defined the parameters for a search which clearly meets your target criteria, you can then save the search by adding a search name. You can also select the frequency you wish to receive search alerts – LinkedIn will automatically send you notifications every time new profiles match your criteria.

You then can contact selected candidates using the email credits you have been assigned with your Recruiter Lite account. If you maintain your account, each month your email credits will be replenished.

The next stage is to write an email message. This can be the hard part, especially for solicitors! The email should try to catch the prospective candidate’s attention without being too hard sell or alternatively boring – remember the idea is to recruit a candidate that will potentially work with you and for you. LinkedIn provides guidance on how to construct a good email. LinkedIn’s view is that the email should be brief with the aim of 100 words or less. They also advise that you should personalise your message to show the recipient why their profile caught your interest. Then you clearly have to “sell” the potential position and also your firm.

LinkedIn Groups

You can also discover potential candidates using LinkedIn groups, without paying any fee. If you join groups based on the skills and experience of candidates you are looking to recruit there is a high probability that you will find relevant candidates. Once you’ve joined, you can pose questions, contribute to discussions and discover other LinkedIn members that could be potential candidates.

However, for us, the fee was worthwhile to extend the reach and the facilities of the recruitment process. We have used the Recruiter Lite platform over the last few months to recruit consultant solicitors and we have recruited approximately 30% of our solicitors using Linkedin. It does work if you get it right!

Christian Browne is a business solicitor and the Managing Director of Summerfield Browne Solicitors. He is also a legal advisor with the Institute of Directors in London. Email cbrowne@summerfieldbrowne.com. Twitter @S_B_Solicitors.

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