published October 3, 2012

By Harrison Barnes, CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left

How Technology is Changing the Recruiting Landscape

Role of technology in recruitment processWhen it comes to law firms and recruiting lawyers, social media is important only for employer branding – essential for creating a favorable perception and getting the word out – the candidate comes in through traditional channels

Sometimes, I feel social media and other new tools of jobseeker engagement are being hyped too much by a section of businesses, whose revenues depend upon creating social media engagement and measurement. Yes, the efforts of recruitment strategies and jobseeker behavior are more measurable than ever before, but what someone makes of those quantified results is what matters, not just keeping measuring, and filing away data.

In one of the recent seminars on recruiting I attended, there was this learned gentleman impressing upon the audience the overwhelming reach of social media. I asked whether he had any data on how many COOs, CEOs, or CFO's had been hired through social media or LinkedIn over the last three years. Needless to say, I did not receive any answer, but was put down with a look of scorn.

The same gentleman also tried to impress upon everyone present that “relationship” was the new mantra of the 21st century: When I told him, that was what my grandma had told me when I was a kid, and she had learnt it from her grandma, and it was the truth, as long as human kind has been on this planet – he seemed disconcerted with my lack of appreciation of the truths ‘he’ was trying to ‘reveal.’

Social media and new tools of jobseeker engagement are extremely necessary for employer branding, as are pro bono efforts and exercises in corporate social responsibility. The internet has opened up possibilities of creating employer branding and brand reinforcement exercises at a cost-optimized manner. The establishment of employer brand on social media and by the use of well-planned websites is necessary, because almost every jobseeker does online research about potential employers, though less than 30% use social media to contact employers, even in case of companies dealing in consumer products and services.

However, the growth in technology has had tremendous impact on the recruitment landscape including skills that are in demand

While the advent of the internet, mobile applications, video interviewing, review boards, professional forums and online social media have created avenues for instantaneous dissemination of information, a great part of them are also under the command of ‘comments’ or user generated content. This has led law firms to employ full-time social media experts to try to exercise gentle control on the content, engage with those who make comments, ask relevant blogs to highlight achievements of law firms, and engage in other employment branding exercises, that cannot be neglected today, but were not needed yesterday, simply because the technology was not there.

On the other hand, as already marked by the industry, development of technology that helps the workflow of law firms and companies, including e-discovery and legal research software has changed the need for skills in demand. Law firms have become leaner and have learned to function under uncertain situations with distributed workflow, where much of the work is done by software or outsourced. The need for armies of associates has decreased, and the need for high quality lawyers and subject experts has gone up. This has all happened due to growth in technology.

The reach of the recruiter and the competition has become truly global

Technology has leveled the playing field, and at least in online efforts, smaller law firms can now access a talent pool previously unreachable to them. Video interviews allow law firm partners to instantaneously reach out to and interact with potential candidates who are a thousand miles away, saving time, money, and resources. The same power is in the hands of both small and big recruiters as far as reach is concerned. However, sustained employer branding still costs and it is difficult for small firms to reach the employer branding of big firms online, without shouldering expenses that largely, are wasteful for smaller operations.

At the same time, the candidates too, now have instantaneous access to information and happenings, and the fact of an employer unjustly fired in Texas from a law firm, reaches the ears of lawyers in New York within a matter of minutes. Similarly, opportunities across the country are also uniformly accessible by potential candidates and the competition in talent-hunt has truly increased manifold with the growth of technology.

Traditional recruitment efforts are necessary more than ever

While online branding and information dissemination is extremely important, the role of traditional recruitment efforts have not diminished in any manner. Especially in the legal industry, there are great subject experts who are slow to adapt to technology, or just do not have the time to engage in social media chitchat or do not spend much time online. Jumping onto the technology bandwagon full-scale and starting to neglect traditional channels of recruitment can make recruitment efforts blind to those potential candidates, who do not have time or inclination to use new technologies as platforms of socialization. So, there are both advantages and disadvantages that have arrived with the development of computer technology and the internet, but the traditional methods of recruitment are still the best when it comes to hiring quality people.

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