In both the legal and financial services spaces, recruiting may as well be a major-league competitive sport. It makes sense. After all, in the world of professional services, each firm is only really as strong as its current crop of talent.

You need to keep attracting and hiring the best and the brightest to maintain your firm’s position in the marketplace. The problem? Every other financial services company, law firm and tech startup is gunning for the same top-level talent.

In our digital-first world, you can’t just rest on the laurels of your firm’s reputation, however illustrious. Your brand and digital presence play a major role in the way your firm is perceived by your prospective hires. If you want to win the war for talent, you must build an authentic, values-driven recruiting offer—and you must see to it that your brand is fully in alignment with that offer.

Your Brand is Already Impacting Your Firm’s Recruiting Efforts

For better or worse, your prospective hires are already drawing conclusions about your legal or financial services firm based on your brand and digital presence.

The millennial generation—your primary recruiting demographic—is composed of highly visual digital natives. They’ve long inhabited the digital-first future that many businesses and older generations are only just entering. In many ways, your brand’s primary expression is now digital. That’s true for the simple reason that your website is almost certainly your first and most highly trafficked touchpoint.

So what does your brand say about your firm’s workplace culture? Are you outdated, stodgy and slow to embrace change? Or are you forward-thinking, fast-moving and innovative?  The most talented young professionals want to work for firms that fit in the latter category—not those that appear to be stuck in the past.

Legal and financial services firms are often steeped in tradition. But there’s a way to communicate that legacy while at the same time retaining a modern edge. If your brand and website are sorely outdated, you are almost certainly losing out on opportunities to hire the brightest and most ambitious professionals. The same is true if your digital presence doesn’t accurately reflect your internal culture and employee value proposition.

When you bring your brand in alignment with your recruiting offer, you instantly upgrade your firm’s image in the minds of the next generation of talent.

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When it Comes to Recruiting, Walk the Walk Before You Talk the Talk

Everyone is looking for a recruiting advantage in the legal and financial services industries. And your brand is a natural opportunity to differentiate yourself. But here’s the rub: It has to be authentic, or all bets are off.

Which means that before you go spiffing up your brand, you need to take stock of your firm’s current internal culture. To what extent does your firm act as a career accelerant for young professionals? Do you give them opportunities to take on real responsibility and expand their skills? To what extent are mentoring and culture-building social activities baked into your operational structure? What about special programs, such as pro bono initiatives, environmental commitments or diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs? And finally, what “quality of life” perks do you offer your employees?

Today’s young professionals are actively seeking employers that intentionally invest in:

  • Opportunities for professional development, such as lunch-and-learns or mentorship programs
  • Culture-building activities, like trivia nights and retreats
  • Community programs and environmental or social impact initiatives
  • Workplace diversity at all levels of the org chart
  • Work-life balance, including generous PTO packages
  • “Quality of life” perks, such as flexible work-from-home arrangements, catered lunches and drinks on tap

If you want to build your internal brand, take a programs-first approach. If you suspect that your recruiting offer isn’t really competitive based on the above criteria, it’s time to make some changes. Once you have a company culture that is truly worth bragging about, you can refine your brand to reflect those qualities.

On the other hand, if you already offer a stellar recruiting package and company culture, but your brand is outdated, your primary task is to simply bring your brand in alignment with what you actually offer.

Conversely, if your brand portrays your workplace culture in an unrealistically attractive light, beware. This sort of false advertising will inevitably be aired on workplace review sites (such as Glassdoor) and social media channels. The negative impact will be worse than if you never “improved” your brand in the first place.

How to Bring Your Brand in Alignment With Your Authentic Recruiting Offer

Your organization has a lot to offer. In order to communicate the opportunities that exist at your law firm or financial services company, you must communicate your authentic workplace values and recruiting offer in your branding.

The process of bringing your brand in alignment with your recruiting offer could be a brand refresh or a full-on rebrand. The extent of your rebranding work will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • How outdated your brand seems, both in terms of its aesthetics and the values it expresses
  • Your budget
  • Your other marketing objectives and goals

The simple act of updating your brand and redesigning your website so that it looks more modern will go a long way toward improving your prospective hires’ perceptions of your organization.

In addition, you’ll want to pay special attention to the recruiting content on your website. Make sure to clearly document all of the programs and perks that go along with a position at your firm. Consider producing a recruiting video. The video should highlight your internal culture and allow your associates to share their experiences in their own words. Finally, don’t forget to include recruiting-related content in your social media channels, too. For example, are you sharing information about your pro bono work and community involvement?

Recruiting is a perennial challenge for legal and financial services firms alike. But by bringing your brand in alignment with your recruiting offer, you can be sure to put your best foot forward.

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