Americans are leaving their jobs in record numbers. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September 2021, which is about 1.1 million more than in September 2020. Professional and business services alone saw 706,000 people leave their positions in September 2021, a sign that white collar employers are not immune from what is being called the Great Resignation.
There are a number of reasons behind this mass exodus of employees, but a significant impetus is a desire among workers for better working conditions and better treatment from their employers. For example, many people have adjusted to the new normal of remote work, discovering the many benefits of a work-from-home lifestyle — more time spent with family and friends, less time commuting, the ability to do household tasks in the middle of the day. So when some employers decide arbitrarily to force personnel back into the office, they see a drop in morale, which leads to workers searching for greener pastures.
Law firms are feeling the effects. Associate attrition rates are on the rise, resulting in a hyper-competitive market to attract quality associates. While offering larger and larger salaries may have once been a surefire way to solidify quality talent, younger generations have a different set of values than their predecessors. To them, preserving their mental health and creating a healthy work-life balance can be just as meaningful as, if not more so than, an impressive six-figure paycheck.
As law firms duke it out to attract talent, what can their marketing departments do to aid in the fight?
Tell Your Firm’s Story
Nothing draws people in better than a good narrative. Your firm has to come up with an on-brand story that speaks to prospective candidates. This story should convey the firm’s culture authentically. You do not want to craft a narrative that makes the firm sound like an ideal workplace when, behind the scenes, morale is sinking and disgruntled workers abound. That’s a bait and switch, and word will spread fast about the gap between how you market your firm and the realities of working there.
Your law firm story should inspire candidates to want to work for you. It should speak to your firm’s mission and values. It should capture some of the firm’s history, how it’s changed over the years and where it plans to be in the future. Just as a job candidate should have a narrative that walks the employer through their career history and highlights the candidate’s strengths and successes, so too should the employer have such a story.
Promote Your Differentiators
It’s a competitive market, so you have to be competitive. Ideally, your firm has some perks that make it more appealing to work for than others. A good place to start is to offer flexible work-from-home schedules, which can be evidence of a decent work-life balance. If that is something your firm offers, make sure it is prominently touted in recruitment materials and messaging.
Does your firm offer any non-standard benefits? Perhaps it pays for gym memberships or has a wellness incentive program. Maybe it has a generous maternity and paternity leave policy. Many workplaces are beginning to provide either individual mental health days or company-wide mental health days where employees can take some time off for self-care. Touting these kinds of perks reflects a firm with a culture that cares about its people.
Happy employees usually love sharing how much they enjoy working for their company. Ideally, your firm has quite a few happy employees (and if it doesn’t, maybe your firm needs to do some introspection before it decides to put too much effort into recruiting). If you do have high morale among your workforce, capture some of their stories.
These testimonials are where video can be a powerful recruitment tool. Tap a few attorneys to speak on camera about what they like about the firm. I recommend writing out questions in advance, giving the lawyers a chance to mentally compose their responses and then recording an interview. You’ll want to make sure each interviewee restates the question as part of their response so the viewer has some context.
Prompts should parallel questions that most job candidates would ask a prospective employer. Examples include:
- Why do you like working at the firm?
- How would you describe the firm’s culture?
- What is a typical workday like at the firm?
Spread the Message Far and Wide
Once you have some recruitment messaging and collateral at your disposal, it’s time to share it. Social media is one of the most effective channels when it comes to spreading a recruitment message. You will probably want to lean heavily on LinkedIn, since it is the best social network for connecting with industry professionals.
I recommend making an initial small investment in LinkedIn paid posts. When setting up a paid post, you’ll have the option to incorporate images or video. This makes it an ideal medium for testimonial videos. You also will have multiple criteria you can enter to narrow down your target audience, including criteria based on job title, industry and geography. This makes targeting your career content more precise, which means your ad dollars are better spent.
You will also want to post law firm recruitment content on your firm’s website. Ideally, your website will have a careers section that has some information about the firm, its differentiators and its culture, in addition to job listings. Placing testimonial videos and additional recruitment content on this page increases the likelihood that job candidates will see it and be encouraged to apply.
Understand that Marketing Isn’t Magic
When it comes to recruitment marketing, setting both your own expectations and the expectations of firm leadership is important. Ultimately, hiring quality talent — especially quality lateral talent — requires a lot more on-the-ground effort than multichannel marketing. Much of the hiring game in the legal industry is contingent on relationships, so it is critical that your attorneys seek out qualified candidates and create inroads with them through relationship-building and networking tactics.
What recruitment marketing can do is support on-the-ground efforts by raising the visibility of your firm’s brand, your firm’s recruitment messaging and your firm’s open positions. Testimonials and descriptions of firm culture can help pique interest and strengthen interactions between firm attorneys and recruitment prospects. One-sheets, both digital and print, are great follow-up and leave-behind materials that your attorneys and recruiters can provide to priority candidates.