News

Recruitment in the Patent Profession

25 Jun 2019

Having worked with some flexible clients on recent assignment we wanted to share how this experience contrasts to some assignments we may have worked on in the past.

What is passive recruitment?

Many areas of the recruitment industry have the luxury of selecting the most suitable candidates from a pool of active and interested candidates i.e. people who are looking for a new position and have crossed the mental Rubicon to leave their employer. Within the IP profession however we have seen over many years of experience that active candidates are few and far between.  Our approach has been developed in response to the client request for a specific skill set for their business and involves speaking to passive prospects: those who are not currently looking to move but who could be interested if the opportunity is right for them.

Why passive recruitment suits our market

Active recruitment relies heavily on advertising in order to source candidates – this typically represents only 20% of any given market. Another important element of our work is confidentiality. When large corporates are recruiting for patent attorneys it is usually a strategic move and they want to maintain discretion. The passive recruitment process lends itself to this sensitive approach for both sides – the client and the candidate.

Why passive recruitment suits the prospective candidate

Patent Attorneys who are not actively looking for a new role, do not always see the benefit in engaging in exploring an opportunity. And yet, we believe this is the best time to consider what a new position might offer. The reason: it has to be a substantially better position to pull the attorney out of their role compared to when actively looking to leave their post. We work with clients who buy in to this methodology and the success of a search increases significantly by taking this open-channel approach. Yes, it may involve the client to have an initial telephone call with the attorney to help bring the person into the formal process, and it may require the attorney to take twenty minutes out of their day to speak to the client. But this investment on both sides can have a significant impact to both. Clients who try to stamp their own internal ‘active recruitment’ process on to a passive solution, will invariably fall well short.

Our approach

We are generally recruiting from a relatively small talent pool and the onus is on us to demonstrate that the opportunity is worth the individual’s time and attention. This means providing attorneys with as much information as possible about the position.

In order to do that, we talk to our client about the actual tasks of the job rather than simply pulling together a person specification. This allows us to build up a performance profile, which gives the candidate a solid understanding of the role. Passive candidates want to know whether the opportunity we’re presenting to them is a good career move. We talk to our client about career stretch during the first year and, beyond that, career growth so that we can answer candidate questions with confidence.

By taking this consultative approach, we can give candidates a thorough understanding of the career opportunity before them and present our clients with applicants who meet their needs and have a genuine interest in the role.

How clients can help us

In order to attract the best candidates and maintain their interest in potential opportunities we need the clients to be on board with the candidate needs.  After a number of challenging recruitment campaigns which have happily ended in success, we know that clients’ cooperation and flexibility is key to securing the right attorney for a role. Candidates may not be ready to leave their current position and would need a strong ‘pull factor’ to entice them into a new role.   Our philosophy is to open the doors between the candidate and client and for them to remain open for as long as is needed.

If a client adopts their usual recruitment method this may not, in our experience, attract the most optimal for passive recruitment of an IP professional.  By not listening to our advice from experience gained during 20 years of working in this area a successful outcome may not occur.