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Firms mine data to profile clerkship talent pool

user iconMelissa Coade 07 September 2016 NewLaw
Firms mine data to profile clerkship talent pool

Two Australian law firms have announced they will harness the data-scraping capabilities of a sophisticated algorithm to better profile diverse talent on offer.

Knowing what to look for when netting top talent can be a tricky exercise for law firms. While all-rounders are desirable candidates for graduate recruitment, they also come in different shapes and sizes.

From next year, Henry Davis York and King & Wood Mallesons will adopt a new contextual recruitment method that ‘scrapes’ relevant data about candidates’ demographic, geographic and educational backgrounds. Additional information volunteered by clerkship candidates will be taken into account at the time they apply online.

The contextual recruitment system (CRS) uses data insights to cast light or give ‘context’ about potential hires, allowing firms to identify candidates who have outshone their peers against the odds.

The tool was developed by UK company Rare which recognised that a more sophisticated selection process was needed for companies to harness a better performing, more diverse workforce.

HDY hopes the additional information will highlight specific desirable qualities from the candidate field, such as grit and an ability to bounce back. The firm’s director of people and development, Deborah Stonley, said the method would bolster HDY’s recruitment process.

“The CRS is giving us a richer amount of information to use to identify traits such as drive, resilience and perseverance, all of which set someone up for success in this firm, alongside their academic performance,” Ms Stonley said.

“Using the CRS to broaden the talent pool will strengthen our recruitment process and ensure we are using objective data to identify high performers.”

While a robust resume and success in the various rounds of clerkship interviews remain important features of the selection process, more firms have moved to adopt the contextual filtering processes for their competitive clerkship programs. HDY and KWM’s latest announcement follows the lead of Allens, which implemented the data-driven recruitment algorithm to complement its summer clerkship selection process in June.

According to Rare managing director Raphael Mokades, the tool flags a mix of outstanding performers who firms have the option to screen-in. He believes the system casts light on those candidates whose merit on paper might otherwise be overlooked.  

“The idea is to give firms the chance to find people who are excellent but may not have had those opportunities which, at first glance, make them sparkle as brightly,” Mr Mokades said.

“One of our partners once said, ‘we’re looking for the gems and they’re not all in the jewelers’ shop’ and that I think is a pretty good way of putting it.”

Although the modern market offers no shortage of exceptional candidates, hiring processes can be marred by unconscious bias and few CVs reveal much of the shades of disadvantage any one person has encountered in life.

KWM spokesperson Linda Johnston said it made sense for the firm to adopt the contextual recruitment approach as traditional screening methods may not have captured a number of outstanding graduates. The tool’s positive impact on recruitment remains to be seen, she said.

“We look forward to seeing the longer term results of this data-driven approach over time,” Ms Johnston said.

Rare originally developed the CRS algorithm for the UK market, which to date has been deployed by 35 different government sector firms and private companies.

Since its launch last year, Mr Mokades said the recruitment tool has yielded “promising results” in the UK.

“Professional services firms now see having a diverse workforce as more than just a social responsibility. It gives them a competitive edge. This brings an additional layer to candidate assessment, giving firms another lens through which to view applicants and identify high performers,” he said.

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