Why don’t candidates want to join your team? The 5 most common concerns from candidates

Recruiters spend a lot of time discussing opportunities with candidates and this often involves taking apart preconceived ideas about what working in any particular role might mean at a specific firm. There are rumours that have been heard on the market and concerns over job specs. In this position we often have the luxury of both the full picture and the time to discuss the opportunity in more detail with our candidates which includes, where appropriate, rebutting any misplaced assumptions.

However there are many candidates who may not be in touch with (knowledgeable) recruiters and are making the decision whether to apply or not to a role on the basis of the job spec and the information they hear on the market. Some of the issues might be resolved with job spec tweaks or titling changes, whilst some are more integral to how a particular function may run, in any case here are some of the main hesitations that we hear from our candidates.

The role will be too narrow

Whilst it may make a lot of sense for firms to separate their AML & conflicts functions many junior candidates are concerned not to specialise too early, and whilst they might have a preference between AML and conflicts they are often hesitant to specialise in one area (this is common especially in relation to conflicts focused roles).

A lack of wider project exposure

The best candidates, whilst happy to do day to day AML and/or conflicts, are really interested in getting wider exposure to deal with project work. Whether that be reviewing any tweaks needed to be made to a policy on the back of some new regulations, or to be involved with the implementation of Intapp.

A lack of autonomy

Candidates can be very frustrated when they do not have the opportunity to exercise autonomy, build their ability to “take a view” and just generally feel that they are inputting into the decision making process. If all the work they do is escalated out of their hands and they lose involvement this can be very disheartening.

The role looks like a sideways move or the title is discouraging

There is no unity of titling strategy within law firm risk and compliance and any recruiter in this space will be able to fill up a few weeks with the number of hours they spend explaining to candidates to look beyond the title and at the actual responsibilities that might be taken from any particular role. Titles are free, nothing is taken from the balance sheet when doling out titles to your team, but obviously it can be much harder to manage titling when you have a large team, however we are often surprised at how poor titling can be.

Furthermore it is often seen as an insight into the real level of buy-in (the next point below) of the firm to risk and compliance. Titles can range from empowering to belittling and there really is no excuse for the latter. Especially at the senior level titles such as Manager look weak compared to “Head of, Counsel, In-house” etc and senior candidates often complain of the difficulty of wielding junior sounding titles when trying to corral senior partners into adopting better compliance practices.

There is no real buy-in from the partnership and senior stakeholders

For senior level recruitment this concern is huge. For our senior candidates they have worked for years to hone their skills and get a wide view of risk and compliance issues. They have built up an ability to review gaps and analyse risks a firm is presented with and to adapt processes and policies to minimize and reduce these issues. The whole point of their existence is to add this value to the firm. To arrive at a firm with ideas and opportunities but to receive a less than warm response can be not only disheartening but ultimately a waste of everyone’s time.

This buy-in is something candidates are looking for and they will be drawing conclusions as to likely buy-in level from a variety of things from the titles used, the way the job spec is drafted, who is involved in the interview process and, of course, how the interviews are conducted.

Posted by: AJ Fox Compliance