The ideal scenario is attracting a suitable pool of applicants, promoting the job in a way that attracts a small number of suitable candidates rather than a large number of less suitable ones (particularly given the improving, but still difficult, legal graduate recruitment market).
It is useful to remember two things:
(a) It is likely that there are some potential candidates who will apply for any and all traineeship jobs that appear regardless of whether or not they want to do them;
(b) That some applicants will not actually be suitably qualified for the roles they are applying for (e.g. a criminal defence firm offering a traineeship to start immediately may get applications from LLB students).
We are painfully aware of stories where solicitors have received upwards of ‘200 applications’ for a traineeship post. At the same time, we regularly receive calls from solicitors who claim that they don’t get enough good quality applications for a traineeship post or that the applications are identikit. We also routinely get calls from solicitors in rural locations complaining they don’t get enough applicants for roles!
We are also aware that some of our practice guidance above may lead to more applications (i.e. we recommend not filtering people out for things like Higher results). Organisations may worry that by not insisting on the highest school grades that they get more applications.
There are ways to limit the number of applications your organisation receives but which do not inhibit fair access.
Failure to advertise widely may mean that a training organisation gets a limited number of applications for the role or get few quality applications. Failure to advertise wisely may mean that a training organisation gets an inordinate number of applications which they feel they cannot reasonably process (oftentimes many such applications are from candidates who are not actually eligible e.g. the traineeship will commence in a month’s time and LLB students apply etc).
Fear of many applications may lead to narrow advertising of a job (e.g. via word of mouth or, for larger organisations, exclusively hiring from your internship/summer school intake). This likely means an organisation missing out on a lot of potential talent. As above, a good job description will help you – especially if you make it clear you will not progress applicants who do not meet all essential criteria.
We would recommend considering different ways to promote your roles as widely as possible.
Different ways of advertising a role
How organisations do this will differ on the nature of the role but we would advise considering the following.
- Advertising on the Law Society’s recruitment website: http://www.lawscotjobs.co.uk. It is free to advertise for traineeship roles on the site.
- Tweet about the vacancy. If you mention @lawscot and/or @newlawyerslss on Twitter we’ll do our best to retweet to our followers. It is likely that other legal tweeters will also retweet this.
- Send the vacancy to the Directors of the Diploma courses. If you email email@example.com we can put you in touch.
- Many firms receive speculative applications sporadically. If may be a sensible strategy to keep good applications on file in case a vacancy arises (though it may be that when you write your person specification and job description that you will want to recruit more widely). If you do not have a traineeship vacancy available but do have excellent candidates – consider offering a short internship or work as a paralegal. It is extremely important to remember that if you do take on a talented individual for a short-term that they will continue to look for traineeships elsewhere.
We recommend that job advertisements should cover all of the following:
- Job title, location, salary
- The Job Description
- Brief description of the nature of the organisation
- The person specification (i.e. highlighting the essential criteria and desirable criteria)
- Organisational benefits (if any)
- Unique features (i.e. hours of work, need for mobility etc)
- Application procedure and closing date
- Equal opportunities statement
- Reference to your website (if applicable)
Rather than deliberately design your person specification to limit applications (i.e. setting exceptionally high academic attributes as essential criteria) the Society would recommend using other techniques such as requiring applicants to write a 500-word essay on a topic of your choice (related to your organisation’s practice or areas of interest) or to put together a PowerPoint presentation about a given topic (e.g. what are the major factors affecting the legal industry/your sector at present?). This will likely limit the number applying but, also, ensure your organisation receives more applications from people who are particularly interested.
For organisations that recruit up to two years in advance
Organisations that recruit one or two years in advance often hold recruitment events (often drinks parties/dinners in the evening) or attend recruitment fairs. Whilst these are both useful ways to engage with future joiners consideration should be given to advertising more widely.
For those organisations who organise recruitment events, we would recommend assessing what capacity there is to accommodate disabled candidates. We would also recommend remembering that events that revolve around alcohol may limit the pool of applicants you wish to attract (as may evening events – as those studying the part-time LLB may not be able to attend).
For those organisations who attend recruitment fairs, we would recommend attending as many as is feasible for you to attend but to remember that part-time LLB students may not be able to attend during the day. Therefore, we recommend that you ensure that your internship and traineeship opportunities are advertised widely as above.