Building relationships with emerging talent, long before they join
With over 10,000 lawyers, in 180+ offices across 70+ countries, Dentons is uniquely positioned to leverage its global platform and deliver sophisticated and innovative legal services to its clients.
Dentons is a truly “polycentric” international law firm that fully embraces the diversity of its geography, cultures and legal traditions.
Dentons is on a journey to build a "best in class" inclusive hiring function, raising its profile as an employer of choice for candidates. An important focus of this transformation is improving the candidate experience from first contact to becoming an employee.
In autumn 2019, Dentons' launched a new graduate recruitment campaign, Challengers. Accepted, which was shared across UK universities. With engaging visuals and content, the ambition of the new campaign was to attract students with the drive to join the law firm of the future. The team wanted to ensure consistency of experience and ensure this messaging aligned with the full trainee lifecycle.
As with all law firms (and early careers recruitment in general), Dentons has a long period, typically two years, between a trainee candidate completing the offer process and them joining the Firm. In a competitive market for top talent, building a relationship with future trainees over this time was seen as a top priority.
Dentons has around 40 trainees in each cohort joining the following locations; London, Milton Keynes, Central Belt (Glasgow and Edinburgh). During the two-year period, from offer to joining, the future trainees are likely to be studying for their GDL and/or LPC or Diploma for one year and volunteering/working/travelling.
Working with Hollaroo:
Dentons already uses Hollaroo as the platform for its employee referral programme as well as for onboarding new employees. One of the strengths of the platform is its flexibility, and the ease of adding new solutions, so it was the natural choice for building relationships with future trainees.
From Dentons’ perspective, the goals of the project were to:
- Create a single community for the future trainees to engage with each other, avoiding the need for them to create their own groups on different platforms.
- Make the future trainees feel part of the Firm before they join.
- Create a positive early experience setting the right tone for a positive training contract.
- Reduce administration and time spent answering questions by providing everything the future trainees need in one place.
- Improve the time to productivity when future trainees start at the Firm.
- Help to retain trainees after they complete their training contracts.
The value to future trainees encompassed:
- A single destination providing all the information they need, when they need it.
- The chance to learn about processes such as seat allocations, joining law school and applying for visas.
- Learning more about the Firm, its practice groups and its values.
- Finding out about, and signing up to, upcoming events.
- Communicating with each other.
- Having the space to ask questions to both Dentons representatives and each other, and to access an archive of previously answered questions.
- Accessing new starter information and forms.
The people networking features of Hollaroo are especially relevant to this audience. Future trainees are in groups for each cohort (starting year) and each office location to enable them to get to know the people they will be joining with and working alongside.
In addition, there is a plan to engage future trainees to help with Dentons early careers recruitment by acting as ambassadors and talent spotters and letting them know how to get involved with Dentons CSR initiatives. Making the most of that two-year period in every way!
The project was led by Sarah Harte, Graduate Recruitment & Development Manager, at Dentons and Liz Gates from Hollaroo. Liz had already delivered the other Dentons projects so existing relationships with IT and other interested parties smoothed the path to delivery. Together the team managed to deliver the future trainees community, called Challengers. Welcome. in only seven weeks.
The launch of Challengers. Welcome. has been hugely successful. From the initial launch there was a 97% acceptance rate and, on average, candidates are logging in around once per week. Activity is tracked by the Hollaroo system, which enables the candidate experience to be continuously improved over time. This shows an early focus on practical information, such as how seats are allocated at the Firm, which fits with our “hierarchy of needs” approach to candidate experience; get the basic needs satisfied first and then you can layer higher value engagement on top.
As well as the automated tracking, Sarah was very keen to get feedback from the future trainees themselves, so there is a link to their feedback survey on all notifications from the system and all of the content pages. The results have been overwhelmingly positive:
100% of survey respondents (20) rated the Challengers. Welcome. portal as 5/5 for:
- Navigation and layout
- Look and feel
The system has been described as “User-friendly, informative, social” and “Slick, colourful, engaging”.
One future trainee shared:
"The portal is great and makes me feel that Dentons cares and invests in trainees before joining. I know this is a point of difference from speaking to friends at other firms. It is especially appreciated in these current times where there is a lot of uncertainty, this connection is really important so I can keep up to date with the latest news and help me to prepare for joining. "
Sarah Harte commented:
"We are delighted with our new future trainee portal, Challengers. Welcome. Our future trainee talent are vital to our success as a law firm of the future. Liz and the team at Hollaroo really understood our ambitions to be innovative in our approach to pre-joiner engagement. It has exceeded our expectations with high levels of engagement and we look forward to developing this further."
Building on success:
A strategic goal for Dentons is to deliver a consistent candidate experience along the entire candidate journey, and Hollaroo systems really come alive when multiple solutions are linked together. The work has already begun to link the future trainees into the onboarding solution, so the transition into employment is seamless.
On the other side, there is a desire to deploy some of the engagement and relationship-building concepts from the future trainees to the wider candidate communities – sharing success throughout the Firm.