by Candace Wells, COO and Law Business Strategist, Attorney Alchemy
Hiring a new employee is an exciting time in your business. If it’s time to hire some help, it means you’ve met your goals and are anticipating more growth. Congratulations! You’re probably feeling a mixed bag of emotions - anticipation, excitement - maybe even a little fear. Hiring a new employee can also be daunting and a little terrifying, but don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be if you have a tried and true hiring process in place. Let’s dig in so you can start looking for your next superstar.
First things first. A simple checklist can make your life a whole lot easier when you start the search for a new employee. Below is the hiring checklist I always recommend attorneys stick to when they decide it’s hiring time.
Hiring Checklist to Find Your Next Superstar:
- Identify the position you need to fill, the responsibilities of the position, and the background and skills the new team member must have to be considered for the job.
- Create a Timeline for the Search. When does this person need to start? Work backwards from there. (Hint: it usually takes at least 6 - 8 weeks to post the ad, conduct interviews, and hire your top candidate.)
- Draft and Post Ad; Prepare Interview Questions.
- Review Resumes.
- Schedule Phone Interviews with Promising Candidates.
- Schedule In-Person Interview with Top Candidates.
- Run a Background Check and Call References.
- Make a Final Decision and Call the Top Candidate to Make Formal Offer; Provide Offer Letter.
This may seem like a long process. That’s because it is! It’s too important to rush through or skip a step when you’re hiring, so I want to encourage you to really take your time finding your next team member. Consider which tasks, projects, or responsibilities you really need help with. What experience, skills, or attributes are required to be successful in this position and at your firm? What type of person will fit in with your existing team and your clients? Think about the type of person you want to work with everyday. Once you know who you are looking for, this process will be that much easier. When you know you need a motivated, detail-oriented, estate planning paralegal with case management experience, you aren’t even tempted to hire a tardy but friendly receptionist with great phone skills. Why? That’s not who you’re looking for!
Next, I’m going to help you tackle what is often the hardest part of hiring: drafting the job ad. Now that you know who you’re looking for, this will be much easier.
To help you avoid Blank Page Syndrome, here is a Sample Ad for the Paralegal you need. Take it and make it your own. Don’t be afraid to add some personality or talk about your firm.
A really good job ad should do two things:
- Speak to the Superstars and make them want to apply and,
- Weed out the Back-Up Singers and make them keep scrolling.
You can do both of those things by being honest from the start about who you are, what you do, and who you’re looking for to help grow your business.
In my hypothetical estate planning firm in Pittsburgh, I’m looking for an experienced paralegal who is comfortable working with young parents planning for their children. I want someone empathetic who can think proactively, work hard, and have fun. My team loves listening to 80s music when we’re not seeing clients and we have an office dog. I want someone who is willing to learn and grow right alongside us. I am proud to be able to offer some competitive benefits, but can’t afford to offer a lot of paid time off yet. We close the firm for a week during the summer instead. I tried to convey all of these things in my ad so that I’m setting expectations clearly from the start. If I’ve done a good job, I’ll find my next Superstar in the stack of resumes that start rolling in.
The rest of this process only gets easier from here. Remember who you are looking for and let that be your guide. It will help you write your interview questions, consider resumes, and choose your top candidate. Good luck - You’ve got this!
To your success!
Meet Candace Wells
Candace helped propel her very first law firm from $150,000 in annual revenue to $3 million in just 5 years, while managing a team of seven and supporting three attorneys. It’s her self-made grandfather, starting in the cotton fields and advancing to owning his own business, who showed her that a tried and true process will save you almost every time and an empowered team will always have your back.
Candace has served as a Practice Development Facilitator for one of the nation’s leading drafting software companies, a fractional COO for How To Manage a Small Law Firm, and now serves as the COO for Attorney Alchemy.
Candace lives in the Pacific Northwest with her wife and their menagerie of rescued pets. Fueled by her enthusiasm for coffee and processes, her mission is to empower attorneys to create and build their ideal law firms.
You can find out more about Candace on LinkedIn and reach her at Candace@AttorneyAlchemy.com.