Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Don't Be Scared of Hiring the Best

A satellite office of a well known national law firm (I wont name the firm or the city) is currently looking to hire a marketing /business development professional to assist the attorneys to become better known and to expand their practice within their city.

A friend of mine was contacted by a headhunter. He is very qualified for the position (currently works for a smaller firm) and was interested in the opportunity. He is becoming well known in his business community (inside and outside of legal marketing), has a great work ethic, and instinctively understands what strategies law firms need to use to succeed in today's highly competitive environment.

The firm disqualified him as a candidate because they received his resume from three different sources (only one headhunter, the other two were business professionals who knew the firm had an opening). The office administrator was annoyed to get the resume more than once and decided not to even talk with him.

What? Not even an interview?

God-forbid that there would be a candidate who is well known and respected in the business community that multiple sources believe could be a good fit for the firm.

This office administrator has done a HUGE dis-service to the firm (She did not need to hire this person, but by not interviewing him, they will never know if the person could have been a good fit). Sadly, this is very common in law firms. A firm would much rather have a mediocre marketing professional than one who could stand out from the pack.

Other firms make it a policy not to hire anyone without "law firm experience". They are so sure that business experience in another field cannot translate into their industry that they by-pass amazing candidates.

I once interviewed for a marketing manager position with a big law firm and was later told by a partner that the reason I was not hired was that my extensive networking and involvement in local organizations might "outshine" the attorneys. The firm was not comfortable with a "non-lawyer" being visible in the business community, and that it was not appropriate for a "non-lawyer" to be in a public role (Note that the law firms are the only industry that label their professional staff in this manner.....hospitals do not have "doctors and non-doctors").

I know many lawyers who are unhappy with their firm's marketing and business development staff. However, they are not willing to pay more money or give these professionals the internal respect and authority necessary to attract the type of people who will succeed.

Another person I know manages a division of one of the world's largest and most successful technology companies. He is always looking to identify top talent (from inside and outside the tech field) for his company. He looks for top performers, and is never worried about hiring someone with more experience (or someone who is smarter) than himself. His company rewards success, rather than wanting a bunch of robots who will never "out-shine" the senior team. He laughs at companies like these law firms I mention above, because he knows they will never rise to the top. His company thrives because they are not scared of hiring the best.

The reality is that my friend would not want to work for an office administrator who has such strict policies about whom they interview. (Marketing and Business Development professionals should not report to administrators in the first place, successful firms have marketing working directly with partners). You can get a lot of clues about a company long before you accept the job. My guess is that this particular firm is swarming with politics that would stifle my friend's creativity and ability to succeed. Working there would be awful!

A great company always searches for reason to hire the best candidates, not reasons to disqualify them!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

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