Title and level of seniority are not always the starting points of a search right now.
I am seeing a trend of firms who want to find the right person who is culturally aligned first and foremost. Only then do they start to slot that person into their marketing team hierarchy. In this market, approaching a search with this level of flexibility is an advantage.
Typically, the way law firms would add new business development and marketing professionals into their teams would be to start with title, salary, city (or cities). This is then followed by a technical skills alignment, followed by a cultural skills alignment. Lastly, almost as an afterthought, benefits would get pushed into the mix, and an offer was delivered and signed.
Now, some firms are turning this on their head. They are starting with conversations around what type of cultural environment the prospective candidate works best in. This includes everything from work philosophies, to leadership, to diversity, to management styles up and down, and to career path projections within the firm. This is closely followed by an open dialogue on benefits and preferred working arrangements. Salary expectations will naturally evolve from this dialogue, too.
Secondly, there is a technical skills alignment. Lastly, there is mutual agreement on what level this role should be, and therefore effort is put in to fine-tuning the accompanying salary.
This is a hugely different way to approach hiring a new business development and marketing professional.
And I love it.
I have clients who can consider a Manager or Senior Manager, or a Senior Manager or Director, for an open role within their teams. I even had one client who could offer a Specialist, Manager or Senior Manager title for their opening; and this was in a volatile market where the narrative on salary had been overstated significantly.
This is true flexibility. This is firms thinking on their feet to adapt to a market that was relatively very small pre-Covid, let alone post-Covid.
If there is any flexibility – and I mean any – consider this approach.
In my experience, firms get one or two years out of a good technical skills match. Firms will typically get three, four, five-plus years out of a strong cultural alignment.
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Kate Harry Shipham is the Principal of KHS People LLC, an executive search firm for BD and marketing people in professional services firms. Kate has done search and recruiting for 12 years and prior to that was an attorney. She loves what she does, and is always open to continuing the discussion: firstname.lastname@example.org