Overall, it remains a challenging market for firms to hire quality staff, this is mainly down to the buoyancy of the market and the continued attraction for solicitors with two years’ PQE to travel overseas. As well as the traditional UK migration there has been an added pull to Asia and locally, inhouse corporate roles in NZ are increasing, these positions tend to offer higher salaries and benefits than private practice roles. This is due to them, overall, not being able to offer the long terms benefits and development of being in a practice.

All areas of expertise are in short supply, but particular Hot Spots are:

  • Financial Services
  • Family
  • Property
  • Employment
  • Litigation

In order to attract the right people, the firm’s and partners’ reputations are a major factor on where people want to interview, any firms able to show a very diverse partnership team, present key partners with great reputations in their areas of expertise or local client networks have a major advantage. Most candidates will secure 2 to 3 interviews and accept the job where they feel they “gelled” most with the interviewers. It’s not all about the firm’s name but more about the people who work there.

On a positive note Kiwis are returning from overseas and Top Tier relocators view NZ as a positive country to live in. Salary levels remain an issue especially for people returning from the US or UK but with education on salaries and promotion of NZ from our overseas and local teams help to filter out those who are seriously contemplating a move compared to those just testing the water.

An area of opportunity for firms is to secure overseas qualified candidates, in particular with 2-3 years’ experience who are highly motivated to work and live in NZ. Upon arrival in NZ these individuals normally qualify in a 6 – 8 month period, have worked in high calibre teams, come with a great base of experience to build from and fill the gap that the 2 years NZ PQE that head overseas leave behind.

In summary, being able to offer much more detailed, comprehensive information across living and working in NZ as well as the legal sector is helping us stimulate both relocator and Kiwi returner candidate pools.

Plan for 2018

We tend to see a slow down in the NZ recruitment market at the end of the year, this years we are experiencing no let up. Savvy firms are already planning and have interviews scheduled for January/February 2018.

Plan your teams; there should be a clear idea as to additional staffing requirements and plan in place to hire as soon as possible. Consider the firm may lose a quarter of the 2-4 year PQE Solicitors, how do you put yourself in the most beneficial position in order to prepare for this eventuality?

Work with good recruiters (of course I am going to say that!) ensure they understand what profiles you look for, what your firms profile is and how they are ensuring you’re one of the three firms a highly sought after candidate interviews with.

Ensure your interviewers are clear as to how they are representing the firm – do not “pussy foot” around candidates but ensure your firm is being represented in the best light by giving solid information across benefits, career development plans, Partners experience, culture and clients. Encourage your interviewers to engage with candidates and reflect the profile of someone that they would want to work for.

Secure people before they land in NZ and ensure you are training your interviewers on skype interviewing.

If you’re struggling to fill a role, consider different skill levels and options that may lead to creating a solution and use your recruiters to support in this process.

Finally, call us if you want further insight into the NZ Legal recruitment market, discuss potential skill gaps and how we can attract the best local and overseas people for your team.

All have a great Christmas and New Year and we’ll talk in 2018. Here’s to filling the NZ Skills Gap one awesome candidate at a time!