Do you suck at hiring? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Lots of small business owners do. But being the owner of a business that sells service, you really cannot afford to suck at hiring any longer if you want to grow your firm.
If you really think about it, good employees are critical to your success. If your intake person sucks, your lead conversion rate suffers. If your paralegals suck, your work product suffers. If your attorneys suck, your clients will leave you.
Here are six steps to improve the hiring process at your law firm:
1. Write a clear, concise job description. Writing up a comprehensive job description will not only get you better qualified candidates, it will also help you clarify in your own mind exactly the type of person you want for the job. It also helps you conduct better interviews. Include the roles and responsibilities, what skills or knowledge is required and the personal characteristics you are looking for in your new hire.
2. Create a hiring schedule. I hear all the time from solos and small firms that they simply don’t have the time to hire the new person they really need. So I guess you don’t have more time to make more money? Because if you really need someone to fill a particular role, something important is falling through the cracks. Set a deadline for when you want your new employee to start working and work back from that, setting aside time on your calendar for application reviews, reference checks and interviews.
3. Look in the right places. If you post an opening on an online job site, chances are you will get hundreds of applicants. Who has time to wade through all of that? Instead, target your recruiting like you target your marketing. As you are networking online or in your community, talk to your contacts to see if they know someone who might fit your needs.
4. Make hiring a team effort. The person you hire will be working with everyone in the firm, so enlist the help of other employees for the hiring process. Getting different perspectives on potential hires can save you from making a disastrous hire. Having your team involved in the hiring process can also ensure your new hire will be a fit for your company culture, an important factor in any business but especially in a service business.
5. Always check references. You’d be amazed at how many people will fall in love with a candidate on paper and fail to check their references. When you talk with a reference, try not to ask leading questions and listen for nonverbal cues like the tone of voice, which can be more telling than the words they are using.
6. Consider a contract position. Consider having your best candidate join in a contract position before bringing him or her on fulltime. This will allow you the time to more accurately assess how they will perform in your firm before you fully commit.