How to Get the Most Out of a Legal Recruiter

If you're perusing our site, you probably already know that legal recruiters save tremendous time and effort in what could otherwise be a grueling employment process. For the candidate, a good recruiter has a comprehensive network of law firms and corporations, which can be an invaluable resource for busy lawyers who must focus on billable hours during a career search. While your job is to practice law, a recruiter's job is to find you a great job opportunity and to ease your transition to a new position. To learn how to get the most out of a legal recruiter, let's rundown the basic process so you know how it typically should work.

First and foremost, recruiters work with employers, learning their businesses and devising ways to best fill open positions. They then screen potential candidates, set up interviews, get feedback from both sides and mediate salary negotiations. The goal is always to serve the interests of both the employer and the candidate -- to find the right fit for both. Throughout the process, the recruiter ensures confidentiality on both sides.

Before meeting with a recruiter, you should spend some time analyzing your career goals. From the recruiter's perspective, it's far easier to help lawyers who have defined goals. If, after some initial effort, your goals are still unclear, a good recruiter will help you brainstorm.

Find a recruiter with a good reputation in the community -- ask your friends who they recommend. Most importantly, don't stop looking until you find someone you're comfortable with. Although we don't recommend working with multiple recruiters, it's not a bad idea to meet with a few people to determine who'd best serve your needs. Just like law firms, legal recruiting firms have distinct personalities and cultures. While not a requirement, former lawyers usually make good legal recruiters because they understand the practice demands and the characteristics of good attorneys. Look for someone who will be persistent and tenacious on your behalf as well as someone who has strong listening and verbal skills. Go with your gut -- does this person seem inherently trustworthy?

When initially contacting a recruiter, start by sending materials (resume, transcripts, references, etc.) and a letter describing the type of position you're looking for. Follow up with a phone call. Even if the recruiter can't help you, at the very least, the recruiter should be professional and honest. At the same time, when you do find a recruiter, you should be honest about what job advertisements you've already responded to. It's counterproductive to duplicate efforts, and knowing what you've done already helps the recruiter understand what interests you.

Also, be honest about the weaknesses in your background, such as less-than-favorable performance reviews or a below-market salary. Perceived weaknesses are often not as great as you fear. If recruiters feel you've been dishonest, they're not likely to market you to employers. Also, with everything out on the table, a recruiter can help revamp your resume, highlighting the upside.

From there, the recruiter should research and alert you to opportunities (never sending your resume out without confirming with you first) and should thoroughly prepare you for every initial interview and call back. After the interviews, the recruiter will probably ask about your impressions of the employer. A good recruiter will not pressure you or make unreasonable promises.

Ideally, the recruiter will keep in touch even during periods that you're not busy interviewing, and should generally provide moral support even after the job search is complete.



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