Ari Kaplan recently spoke with Michael Potters, the co-founder and CEO of the Glenmont Group, a recruiting firm in the legal industry.
Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and the genesis of the Glenmont Group.
Michael Potters: I co-founded the Glenmont Group with my wife, Katie, 20 years ago. We looked at many different businesses, and the one that seemed to make the most sense for us and our lifestyle was executive recruiting. We started it by buying a franchise of a group called Management Recruiters International, which at the time had offices around the world. We had a 10-year contract and always saw ourselves as a boutique recruiting firm. At the time, I knew a lot about information management, consumer electronics and legal technology. The area that took off early was legal technology. We started by supporting vendors but quickly began working with law firms on filling a range of roles, including litigation support, legal IT and marketing. Now, we work with an array of law firm and law department leaders.
Ari Kaplan: How has recruiting evolved since you established the company two decades ago?
Michael Potters: When we started, recruiting was very much a time-consuming, paper-based business. There were no online recruiting tools, and there was no LinkedIn, which has been the biggest game changer in career development. There were no social networks, and you didn’t communicate in the same way. One of the most significant changes is the speed with which you need to identify and coordinate with candidates, which is very confusing for employers and those looking to advance their careers because now everyone is available. It is much more competitive.
Ari Kaplan: What positions are in the highest demand today?
Michael Potters: Demand changes from year to year and sometimes from quarter to quarter. Now, the important positions are focused on revenue generation because organizations are desperate for revenue. This is true even in great times, but they’re particularly concerned about it now due to the pandemic’s impact on their business. As a result, strong sales professionals are attractive in the current market. In addition, anything around data privacy is ridiculously hot right now. And since they align delivery and revenue, project managers are in demand, as well. Their salaries have been going up, and they are much harder to recruit away from their companies since they typically receive counteroffers to remain in their current positions.
Ari Kaplan: How did you pivot the Glenmont Group in the pandemic?
Michael Potters: Luckily, prior to the pandemic, we made a decision to increase our focus on contract IT positions within major corporations because contract hires help to increase cashflow. That shift provided a welcome level of stability over the last year. We also began placing more lawyers, which remained stable throughout 2020. One of the key changes we made as a company was to address and encourage diversity in hiring both at law firms and in corporations, including with legal vendors.
Ari Kaplan: What qualities and types of experience are employers seeking out today?
Michael Potters: Companies obviously want talent in areas that will strengthen their teams, but they are also looking for stability, which means individuals who have been job-hopping throughout their careers may be less attractive. In fact, in the remote environment, companies are exercising a greater level of caution on who they bring in. We have seen employers decline to hire prospects because of concerns about how well they would embrace and empower the organization’s culture, which has become an increasingly important factor in hiring.
Ari Kaplan: What advice can you share with candidates looking to advance their careers?
Michael Potters: First, you must perfect your LinkedIn profile. Everybody looks at that first. Recruiters, talent managers, company leaders and department heads visit the site and make an initial determination about one’s candidacy. As a result, your profile should highlight the key areas at which they are looking. Second, savvy prospects study the bios of those they emulate and model their descriptions after them. If they have a certifications, for example, consider obtaining one, as well. If they share certain personal interests that relate to the role you would like to obtain, offer your visitors a similar level of detail. Third, in an interview, emphasize your fit based on your interests, background and experience, rather than skills alone. Enter the conversation familiar with organization and the team, so that you can genuinely highlight ways that you match their needs. Finally, stability is a key factor in hiring today. If the job ends up being somewhat challenging, find ways to adapt, rather than leave, if at all possible. You should seek to remain in any role for a minimum of two years, but three years or longer is preferable.
Ari Kaplan: How can employers ensure that they are securing the best talent in 2021?
Michael Potters: Start by looking downstream a bit. A candidate who lacks some experience but is looking to advance their career may give the organization an opportunity to hire professionals with potential who can thrive over the long term. Somebody who is hungry and willing to learn can often succeed with mentoring. This mindset shift gives the employer a more dedicated, higher-quality employee but may also lower the overall cost of hiring. In addition, since remote work has finally become accepted, you can expand your talent pool. There are great people in New York, D.C. and Silicon Valley, but they’re also great people in Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. And when you look in those more remote areas, the compensation decreases given the lower costs of living. You save money and open your search to a much larger pool of talent.
Ari Kaplan: How do you see staffing in the legal industry evolving this year?
Michael Potters: Remote work will change the landscape dramatically because it will give people the ability to advance their careers from around the country while offering employers a more attractive pool of talent. In addition, it will allow organizations to control their costs and, most importantly, will enhance diversity.
Listen to the complete interview at Reinventing Professionals.
Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change and introduce new technology at his blog and on iTunes.