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Eye on ESI Q1: Trends in Ediscovery

TRU Staffing Partners February 26, 2022 at 9:58 AM

Eye on ESI is a lively, quarterly meeting sponsored by the Association of Certified Ediscovery Specialists (ACEDS) that provides the latest data on industry hiring trends. It delivers practical tips on job search and professional development issues for lawyers, ediscovery specialists, and legal technology professionals. 

When Maribel Rivera, a senior director at ACEDS, introduced panelists Jared Coseglia, founder and CEO of TRU Staffing Partners and Michael Quartararo, president of ACEDS, she referred to this fifth edition of Eye on ESI as a conversation, not a webinar. It lived up to its description for sure: It was spirited, jam-packed with trending stats, and full of great advice for job seekers and employers alike.


Some ediscovery trends are here to stay

Hiring during the pandemic brought employers a lot of challenges. Offices were empty, current employees resigned in record numbers, and the job market boomed. Some of the changes that occurred in the hiring process are here to stay, according to Coseglia.

1. First-round interviews are still 100% virtual

This is a universal trend and both sides of the process really like it.  In fact, Coseglia hasn’t seen a first round interview in an office in well over a year. He predicts that trend won’t change because it works for everyone logistically. At most, people appear in person at final interviews. Online interviews are expedient, travel costs are zero, and calendars are easier to coordinate.

The job market constantly whittles down to a select group of candidates right for  an employer’s needs. Companies don’t have the luxury to wait to interview people from that small pool of candidates.

2. The ediscovery job market is moving at a record high pace

The best advice here is not to let the grass grow under your feet if you need to staff up. It takes a very short time to hire any level of professional now. Coseglia estimates that hiring executives takes a maximum of three weeks— from resume submission to offer. Contract professionals are hired in just a few days. Pre-pandemic: it ranged from weeks to months.

The panelists mentioned that candidates are at such a premium that waiting even a few days to interview may mean they are lost to a faster-moving organization. Coseglia said that TRU gets feedback from clients within minutes of sending candidate briefs over, which he feels is both unusual and wonderful— and unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

The job market constantly whittles down to a select group of candidates right for  an employer’s needs. Companies don’t have the luxury to wait to interview people from that small pool of candidates.


3. Companies now compromise on things they used to hold sacred

Going public requires a level of regulatory scrutiny related to security and data privacy that many organizations have kicked-the-can on implementing or maturing over the last few pandemic years. As preparations for an IPO loom large for thousands of companies in the coming years, capital investment in C-suite resources—often driven by private equity—will be abundant. If you’re a CISO or CPO who’s gone public and wants another bite at the apple, the job market will be ripe with opportunity for you to make an impact. Additionally, many companies want up-and-comers who can report to a board and handle self-software patching, so yet-to-be-ripened CISOs and CPOs with the humility/capability to be hands-on can also compete in this ecosystem. CISO’s will get hired first, then CPO’s.

Where ediscovery roles are the hottest

According to Coseglia, executive hires are less than 5% of the total marketplace with these jobs going to sales and business development. The project management market for ediscovery (consultants, individual contributors, nonmanagers, and analysts) with about three years’ experience is the hottest sector right now, with 75 to 80% of all open positions hiring for these roles.

Most of the world’s open ediscovery jobs are in the US this year with a few in Canada (Toronto, Quebec, and Vancouver). Europe has opportunities in project management and forensics, especially in Germany, the UK, and Ireland. 

Coseglia noted that TRU gets more applicants from forensics experts through job portals than any other type of applicant. Many of these pros are post-degree graduates wanting a way into ediscovery, where they can add value to an organization needing help with ESI data management.

Law firms comprise about 30% of the ediscovery job market right now. Third-party vendors and consulting firms are about 65%, corporations are about 5%. Corporations still tend to promote from within, and want a strong forensics background from applicants more than they want ediscovery expertise. Corporations are pushing work out to third-party vendors at a record pace, creating open jobs within the vendors.

What staffing agencies bring to the ediscovery hiring process

When asked for advice on how to hire and screen candidates more effectively, Coseglia simply smiled and said to contact TRU Staffing Partners. He explained that people often misunderstand the value of a third-party staffing agency. Agencies do much more than identify talent. Their real value comes in influencing the entire hiring decision, using the art of persuasion through the skill of relationship building. Employers need agencies like TRU to influence candidates to select one employer over another.

He said that 10% of a staffing agency’s time is spent bringing the right people in at the right time. That is a complicated web. Employers must be very forgiving right now and open-minded to the recommendations that staffing firms supply. A lot of thought and preparation goes into matching the right candidates with the right opportunities. On average, candidates have between three and six offers when changing jobs. Employers might not get their first choice every time because the competition is so fierce.

Coseglia advises employers to talk to a lot of people, trust their instincts, and look for recruiters who have some influencing skills to advocate your brand.

Quartararo noted that the job market today is not for the curious and asked if Coseglia could walk meeting participants through the timeline and expectation of how the process is working. Coseglia said TRU Staffing Partners warns its candidates that things will move quickly. Once a resume is submitted, it’s wise to be ready. Expect a call and an interview within a day or two, and then expect an offer within 10 days. TRU curates job referrals to avoid overwhelming candidates.

How to prepare for the ediscovery hiring process

Lastly, the panel discussed myriad ways for employers and candidates to prepare for the hiring process. For employers, Quartararo noted the process is all about better planning before interviewing. It’s crucial to prep job descriptions, define roles, and decide on where to be flexible. If you want efficiency as an employer, make sure your policies are efficient as well. Policies that lead to inefficiency will lead to attrition. Employees see that as a major flaw in an organization and will look elsewhere. 

From the candidate side, Rivera asked what job seekers can do to make themselves more appealing. Quartararo said they needed to be authentic about their skills and strengths. Coseglia felt they had three options in the e-Discovery market: 

  1. Wait for someone to leave a job and make a move
  2. Reinvent yourself with new skills and strengths
  3. Move into sales to make more money, leverage experience and further career options

The whole panel agreed that certifications are also very useful for job seekers in ediscovery. They show potential employers that candidates have invested in themselves. The panel suggested getting all possible certifications to meet all customers’ needs. 

Despite there being so many ways to take advantage of the job market now, the best way is the one that suits your skills and interests. TRU Staffing Partners knows the ediscovery business better than anyone in the world. We can help you find full-time, contract, and direct-hire roles you’ll love. To work with a recruiter to help reach your career goals or for help in finding top talent in ediscovery, contact us and see the possibilities unfold.