Where a candidate has strong credentials, it is almost always to their advantage to work with a capable, experienced legal recruiter. Below are 12 reasons that explain why this is so. This article is the first of three parts. The first part will list the 12 reasons, and then explore the first four reasons in more depth. Part II will address reasons 5-8 in more depth, and part III will cover reasons 9-12.
- Recruiters are normally free.
- “Good” recruiters are very low risk.
- Recruiters have valuable expertise with regard to how the complex market works.
- Recruiters provide objective advice and representation.
- Recruiters know the national and local legal job markets.
- Recruiters understand your practice, needs and preferences.
- Recruiters provide valuable advice about which firms are the best “fit” for you.
- Recruiters know how best to “play the game” with respect to applications.
- Recruiters can best assist you with interviews.
- Recruiters provide valuable organizing, scheduling and oversight.
- Recruiters assist you with evaluating and negotiating offers.
- Recruiters assist you with deciding whether to accept an offer.
REASON 1 – A recruiter usually costs you nothing. You do, however, need strong credentials for a recruiter to be of value to you in providing a key “edge” in today’s highly competitive market. If your credentials are not strong enough to impress the market, however, then a recruiter will not be able to effectively assist you.
REASON 2 – There is very little risk that using a “good” recruiter will hurt your chances. That is not the case with a “bad” recruiter, however. Good recruiters can be distinguished by their ability to properly do the things identified in this list. While attending a top law school and practicing at a top firm is not a requirement for a good recruiter, they are strong indicators of both knowledge and competence. Experience is also key. Because the issues involved are much more complex, experience with partners is very different from experience with associates. The reputation of the recruiter and their firm is also important. Although size does not necessarily equate with quality, like the big name law firms the big name recruiting firms (such as BCG Search) are more likely to have highly qualified recruiters.
REASON 3 – In my initial experiences as an attorney, first as a federal clerk and then as an associate at Kirkland, I had to start developing expertise in the highly complex system of litigation. When I became a recruiter 8 years ago, I discovered that the market was also extremely complex and took years to master, especially for partners. While some attorneys believe they already know everything about the market and therefore can handle everything on their own, they are often mistaken. Attorneys, especially partners, are way too busy to put in the time and effort needed to really understand the complexity of the market and how it is best “played.” Obtaining the advice of a recruiter who already has that expertise makes a lot more sense. Finding the right job is extremely important. Wouldn’t you want expert advice, just as clients seek the expert advice of attorneys?
REASON 4 – Some attorneys say it is better to go through “friends” at firms rather than recruiters. This is also usually mistaken. Unlike one’s friends, recruiters can provide objective advice about the firm, in addition to all the other valuable advice concerning the market that the friends do not possess. Second, using your friend as your advocate at puts them in a precarious position. What if things end badly? How far is your friend willing to stick their neck out for you? Even if things go well, are they going to negotiate your offer for you? If you go through a recruiter, on the other hand, you are better positioned regardless if things go well or badly.