What do candidates want?

This is a question I have encountered a number of times when meeting with clients in the legal sector in the last few weeks. Having recruited in the legal space for a number of years, it has always been a candidate driven market but increasingly so and the candidate experience is now more important than ever before.

Anyone working in the legal sector in New Zealand is aware of what is commonly referred to as the “missing middle.” This is in reference to the shortage of Solicitors in New Zealand, specifically at the intermediate level or 3 to 6 years PQE. It is at this stage of their career that most NZ qualified Solicitors decide to go overseas to the UK or Australia, where they can earn more money, travel Europe and gain their overseas experience which is pretty much a rite of passage and an expected part of the Kiwi career path. It is also an opportunity to gain exposure to global clients, high level work, big transactions and deals and potentially be even more marketable on the return to New Zealand.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a real advocate for travel, and I myself made the move from London to Auckland six years ago to live the kiwi dream, so far be it from me to try and convince you otherwise, but this is a real problem that isn’t going away. New Zealand is increasingly top and bottom heavy. Recently, I have met with a number of very switched on, enthusiastic graduates with straight A’s struggling to get a foot in the door. And, at the other end of the spectrum, a number of very talented Senior Associates who feel they have reached a glass ceiling and are looking for opportunities for Partnership, but without a guarantee of business to bring. Yet, if you are an Intermediate Solicitor who is not going overseas, you pretty much have your pick of opportunities.

So, with so many opportunities on offer, it is more important than ever to listen to the needs of the candidate. And in answer to the earlier question, what do candidates want? Well, it may surprise some but money is not the main factor, in fact a recent survey by Indeed of 2,500 candidates found that only 12% said salary was a factor for a job change. Culture is a big driver, with 21% citing this as a reason to move, but Employer Brand came in first with a massive 68% saying they would turn down a job offer if they became aware of negative aspects of a company.

Specific to the legal sector; the Partners, the work and clients, ability to build their own client base, professional development and the opportunity to broaden their skill set as well as flexible working can all be factors that can influence the decision.

So what can you do to protect your Employer brand?

Feedback, communication, transparency and timeliness are key throughout the recruitment process. It is a big decision to move jobs, particularly in the legal sector where it is a predominantly passive market, and can be quite emotional as well, especially if you don’t dislike your current role. Not giving timely feedback after interviews or lack of response at all can be extremely damaging to your brand. After all, bad news travels way faster than good news. Being transparent from the outset and managing expectations throughout the process, means even if the candidate doesn’t accept the role or receive an offer, they are more likely to come back in the future or refer a friend.

If you are looking at adding to your team or wanting to explore opportunities in the New Zealand market, get in touch for a confidential conversation 021 022 42690 or louise.hallstrutt@findrecruitment.co.nz