Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Case of the Unsuitable Candidate

The Case of the Unsuitable Candidate
We recently sent out a vacancy to the paralegals on our database. Ten Percent Legal Recruitment maintains a database of about 11,000 solicitors and legal executives, together with a good number of experienced paralegals. The vacancy was for a business immigration paralegal who had completed the LPC, had a minimum of 12 months business immigration experience, spoke Cantonese or Mandarin and was able to deal specifically with a specialist area of immigration usually linked to companies. It was clearly going to be quite a hard vacancy to fill but we were particularly interested by the response from one of the candidates.
The interesting candidate emailed us as follows:
"Dear Ten Percent Legal, I am not sure whether I should apply for this vacancy or not. I have not finished the LPC, I do not have a year’s business experience, I don’t speak Cantonese or Mandarin and I have never worked in the specialist area you refer to. Should I apply?"
You can imagine our surprise at receiving this application. The only qualifying feature of this particular candidate was that he lived in the UK and had got prior paralegal experience (without this he would not be on our database).
It is very common for recruitment agencies to receive lots of utterly irrelevant applications for vacancies we advertise. This is particularly so at paralegal level and legal support level including secretary roles. For example we only have to use the word “cashier” and you can just about guarantee that for a legal cashier role we will see an army of Tesco checkout operatives suddenly wanting to enter the legal profession. Similarly for a role in a specified geographical location such as Norwich, we can virtually guarantee that for every application that is relevant to the role we will see at least five coming from bar staff, hairdressers and social workers, all looking specifically for jobs in a geographical area and going for the scattergun approach with their job applications.
I often hear people complaining that they have applied for 100s of jobs but got no interviews and find this frustrating. I suspect that for the majority of time the scenario above applies. If you apply for a job that you are clearly utterly unsuitable for you can hardly expect a fairly small company to go to the trouble of emailing back to point out why you are unsuitable for it, when it should be clear to anyone that this is the case. I once worked out in a normal working day that if I replied to all the people who had been in touch to send a wholly unsuitable CV, I would probably spend most of my day simply typing out ‘sorry you are not suitable’ emails.
It is one thing to apply for a job when you might well just about fit, so for example if somebody puts out an advert for a conveyancing paralegal with 12 months experience and you only have 3 months, it is possible that in some cases they may consider you for the role if they don’t get enough applications from the actual level of experienced fee earners they are seeking. However, if you apply for a job where the firm want 12 months conveyancing experience and your only link to the job is that you worked in a pub in the same town for 6 months, then there is absolutely no point at all in you making an application to that job. Firstly, you have wasted your own time because it is unlikely you will get a response, secondly you will annoy the employer or agency you are applying to, and thirdly you would be much better off looking around for jobs that you can actually work in and are suitable for.
In the case of the unsuitable candidate we all had a look, decided to keep the email because it would make a good blog article, and here it is.
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

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