I like to think that as a legal recruitment consultant I work very hard for our clients and candidates. What a lot of people do not understand is the amount of work we have to put in to attract solicitors, lawyers and legal executives to our sites and services. The average cost of recruiting a solicitor without an agency is about £3,600 including advertising and time spent interviewing and selecting. That is assuming you can find a solicitor - a good number of legal jobs are left vacant for a considerable amount of time - it can be up to a couple of years or more.
I thought it might be worth setting out what we do.
Firstly our site is optimised each month to push us up the search engine ratings - we are usually in the top 5 on Google, MSN and Yahoo, although MSN has recently changed its search patterns, and most of the larger agencies have dropped rather dramatically. Increased competition from the legal job boards has also pushed the agencies down a little bit.
Secondly, we advertise on all the major search engines, spending £1000's each year on ensuring our ad is on most search pages for the relevant keywords. This covers us for most of the main searches that you would do to find us. We also advertise occasionally in the Law Society Gazette.
Thirdly, we write articles, provide services and run the consultancy side of the business to attract passing trade and keep our current candidates interested in us.
We also have to maintain a good knowledge of the legal market, and attend trade fairs when necessary to speak directly to clients and candidates (Law 2006 was one such event we attended). We also sponsor various events and awards from time to time.
Some of our recruitment is very straightforward - we send out a CV to a firm advertising with us, they interview and offer a post with very little involvement from us. The key here is that we have had to attract the firm and the candidate to us, and this is where the cost issues come in - we have introduced two parties together that may otherwise have never met. Some of our recruitment is extremely complicated, and involves a considerable amount of work liasing with the firm and candidate (usually when we have a good candidate for whom we secure a number of interviews for), and subsequently spend a lot of time advising the firms and candidate on salary levels, terms and conditions for the contract, start dates, etc... There is a statistic in the recruitment world that says that only a certain number of interviews will progress to offer stage, although this does tend to be high in law. As a result, because we are in a commission based industry, we can spend considerable amounts of time dealing with a certain candidate, only to find that when we get to offer stage, they decide not to proceed, and we have to write the time off - not wasted, but not generating any income for the company.
On the whole I think a lot of consultants work long hours to secure offers and posts for their candidates, and it is usually not just a case of whacking out a CV and making a telephone call.
Jonathan Fagan, Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - The no.1 online legal recruitment agency for all legal jobs.