Employer Branding for a Law Firm: Where to Start
It is a no-brainer that attracting and hiring the right legal talent is crucial to driving your practice forward, but it’s not just all down to offering a great salary. Candidates are also looking for additional benefits such as career development opportunities and an inclusive work culture, which are showcased through your firm’s employer branding.
It has been suggested that over the next decade, employer branding will become more crucial than ever in positioning legal firms in the market. Those who ensure their employer brand is seen favourably in the industry will see an upsurge in top legal professionals who wish to work for them.
With that said, we take a look at what employer branding is, why it is important and how you can ensure your legal firm has a strong employer brand offering.
What is employer branding?
Employer branding is a term widely adopted as the preferred way that businesses differentiate themselves in the market. It focuses on your legal firm’s reputation as a place to work, the employee value proposition and company culture - all of which are crucial when it comes to attracting the right candidates. According to LinkedIn, it is the essence that ‘lives and breathes in the minds and hearts of your former, current and future employees’.
All employers have an employer brand, whether they are aware of it or not; however, it is how you manage your brand that will affect the strength of your presence in the legal arena, as well as its credibility.
The better you are at employer branding, the more likely you are to attract top talent - 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand.
It can also help to retain your employees.
What is the difference between A firm's brand and Its employer brand?
Your firm brand is typically a combination of your reputation and visibility to attract potential clients, while your employer brand is used to attract employee candidates and talent. While the objectives of employer branding differ to a firm’s branding, it should be consistent with your overall branding.
The attributes that are of interest to potential clients likely differ from those of potential new hires and current employees. For example, a job seeker that asks ‘What is it like to work for you?’ doesn’t want a response like ‘We offer bespoke, practical legal advice’. Instead, they want to know about your firm’s leadership, values and culture.
That said, there are likely to be areas that overlap with clients and employees. For example, a firm’s perception of its specialised expertise in a particular industry is likely to be of interest to both potential clients and new hires.
Why is employer branding important?
Your employer brand is an important tool to have as it showcases your company and is crucial for hiring the best legal talent to work for you. Without it, recruiting can be a challenge as the acceptance or rejection of a job offer may come down to the reputation that you have built as an employer - 92% of people would consider changing jobs if they were offered a role with a company with an excellent corporate reputation.
In addition, your employer branding can have an impact on your bottom-line. A good employer brand can reduce turnover rates by 28%, and cut your costs-per-hire by half, while a bad reputation could cost as much as 10% more per hire, according to Harvard Business Review.
A law firm’s employer branding is also important during the hiring process. Once a candidate’s application is up for consideration, your employer branding will inform their approach to the interview process.
Some 68% of millennials, 54% of gen-xers, and 48% of boomers indicated they visit potential employers’ social media platforms specifically to evaluate the employer's brand, while 86% of employees and job seekers research company reviews and ratings to decide on where to apply for a job.
How to create a strong employer brand
To create a successful employer brand, you need a suitable strategy in place. Here are four steps you will want to consider as you develop your own strategy:
Know your firm’s proposition
To get started on building your employer branding, you must start by considering your firm’s mission statement, values, vision and culture.
Consider how the firm is perceived
Now take the time to consider how your brand is perceived by asking yourself the following questions:
- Who are we?
- What are we to people (e.g. employees, clients, and so on)?
- What is our positioning in the legal market?
- What attracts prospects?
- What is the employment experience we offer?
- How are we different from/better than our competitors?
- How would you describe your current culture?
Consider how others see your firm on social media, as your social accounts are often the first port of call for candidates when assessing your firm as a viable place of work. You could also conduct market research on how current and prospective employees perceive the experience of working at your firm.
Once completed, identify the attributes and run through them with the leaders of the firm before putting them into a branding statement.
When developing your branding statement, make sure that it’s true, differentiable from other firms and demonstrable. While an employer brand can be aspirational, it should not be founded on unattainable goals.
Ensure you Are up-to-date with what's Happening in the Market
Ensuring your firm is moving with the times, for example, technology updates can provide a good experience for candidates. It shows you are quick to embrace change and receptive to new ideas, suggesting you are a progressive law firm with your finger on the pulse.
Always be clear and consistent
Make sure you are clear on your company culture as this can make or break the hiring and retention of your legal staff. If your employer branding is too complicated, you will have trouble promoting it. This can also mean that members of your team - management and staff - end up sharing the ‘wrong’ brand message.
Many candidates are now not just looking for a great salary offer, they are attracted to the culture of a workplace. Other factors high on the list for today’s candidates include career development opportunities, teamwork, a good work/life balance, and a cooperative and supportive environment.
Promoting your employer brand
Once you’ve created your employer brand, you will want to promote it - we take a look at some methods of promoting your employer branding to ensure your message comes across strongly and to the right people.
Use your employees
Brand advocacy can influence how people perceive your firm, so getting in the good graces of your employees can be priceless. This is more important than ever as employees, both past and present, can share their opinions online on what it’s like to work for you. You should aim to have everyone - from the Receptionist to Senior Partner - acting as a brand ambassador to help positively build the firm’s employer branding.
You might conduct employee interviews or testimonials to host on your website or encourage employees to post company updates on their social media accounts. These are simple yet effective ways to leverage your employees into sharing your firm’s culture with their own networks.
Create a strong onboarding process
Onboarding is the first experience that a new hire has with your firm, and a negative impression can have consequences. In fact, new employees who have experienced a negative onboarding are twice as likely to seek a different opportunity.
It is critical that you get new hires engaged and excited about their roles and the firm from the get-go. Arming them with the instructions and tools necessary to excel in their roles will ensure a smooth transition, reduce turnover and create more productive teams.
Use multiple mediums
When you’re promoting your employer branding, you don’t just want to communicate your message via one channel. The careers section of your website is most likely to be the place potential hires will go to first, but that’s not where it ends.
Serious prospects will scrutinise your site to learn what kind of work you do, who you do it for and what it might be like to work for you. They may also wish to learn who their colleagues will be and what opportunities may be available to them, which may take them to your social accounts and employer ratings.
Other tools at your disposal include videos, images, slideshows, and blog posts, which allow you to reach the largest possible audience on whichever platforms you want to be seen on.
Failing to have strong employer branding will likely leave you behind in the competition for hiring the best legal talent on the market. By ensuring you’re meeting the needs of any prospects by giving them honest, transparent and useful insight into how your firm works and operates, you will help your firm to stand out from the crowd.