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What Are Some of the Best Ways to Impress a Law Firm in an Interview?

The interview is the primary opportunity for a candidate to either shine – or fall on their face – when it comes to pursuing an offer.  As an initial matter, you should appear professional at all times – both in dress and demeanor.  This means that you should be professional to everyone you encounter, and not just the partners.  You should also appear motivated.  This is the second key to impressing law firms.  Firms are like people – they want individuals who want them.  Firms also like individuals who are wanted.  Mentioning that you have other firms interested in you can also play to your advantage.

The third key to impressing law firms is to give impressive answers to their questions.  This requires serious preparation.  A candidate should be ready to answer every obvious and likely question.  This includes questions about their resume, their work at their current firm, why they are on the market, what they are looking for in a firm, etc.  You should also take the opportunity to be a “showman” (within reason, of course).  You should appear excited and energetic, and be willing to use appropriate facial expressions and hand gestures.    This is also true on telephone interviews.  Even though the interviewer cannot see you, your excitement and energy (or notable lack of it) will come through your voice.  Answering questions is a prime opportunity to sell yourself.  This is not a time to be shy about achievements or how others have praised you.  You also want to show a personality that is outgoing, engaged and entertaining (within reason).  Firms want to work with people who are good to work with.  It is also important, of course, not to give answers that make you look bad.  Never bad-mouth your own firm or make tasteless jokes.

The fourth key is to ask impressive questions. Asking good questions is also an opportunity to sell yourself.  They should be clear, thoughtful and relevant.  Asking a lot of smart questions about the firm and your practice area also shows interest, and thus motivation.  It also makes you look good by showing that you are intelligent, savvy and well-prepared.  You can also make yourself look good with questions that suggest good things about you (such as you are a hard worker, believe client relationships are important, etc.).  Another example of an excellent question is “how will you inform me if I am doing an excellent job for you?  Another advantage to this question is that it also suggests that you are serious about the quality of your work.  In addition to asking questions about the firm, asking partners about their own practices is also an excellent way to make positive connections.  However, it is best to avoid more sensitive questions regarding compensation, benefits, hours, etc. until later in the process. In sum, interviews generally revolve around two things – appearance, presentation and questions (both asking and answering).  Excelling in these areas provide the keys to impressing law firms.

Changing Specialties During a Job Search

I started out my career in a big firm doing IP.   Now that I have decided I don’t like IP, I want to look for a job in what I have now discovered is my one true love – immigration law.  Am I being realistic? 

To put it bluntly, no.  It is remarkable how often I receive resumes from attorneys who are seeking to change their legal specialties during a job search.  In addition to the real-life example cited above, I have seen candidates who want to switch from insurance defense litigation to patent litigation, from general corporate at a small firm to private equity and fund formation at Kirkland & Ellis, and from a combination of real estate, bankruptcy and public finance to corporate mergers and acquisitions.  Firms generally have no interest in hiring a lawyer who is 5, 10, 20 or more years out of law school who wants to start in a brand new practice area.  Firms typically seek attorneys that have a particular number of years of experience in just one practice area (or perhaps several related sub-practice areas).  They do not want lawyers that have zero experience in the desired area.  (The only exception is with law student candidates and others who are just starting out).  Firms are also not impressed by veteran attorneys who seem to be uncertain regarding their specialty and/or their commitment to the legal profession.

This general rule also applies to candidates who have several unrelated practice areas, but who seek a job that concentrates in only one of them.  While these candidates will usually have at least some experience in the desired practice area, it is still not sufficient to meet the firm requirement that the candidate have spent all or virtually all of their time practicing in the desired specialty.   For example, consider a candidate who has split their time evenly (33% each) between commercial litigation, real estate and trusts & estates who applies for a 3 year commercial litigation associate position.  The firm will most likely reject that candidate and choose instead one of the countless other candidates who have spent 100% of their time (or at least close to it) on litigation for the requisite number of years (3).  Even if the first candidate actually did spend the requisite number of years on litigation (say 3 years out of 9 to meet the 3 year requirement), they will still be rejected as far too senior.

This problem often comes up with candidates from small firms, where working in several different practice areas is more common.   Larger firms, however, are much more specialized.  Consequently, small firm resumes with multiple practices usually do not translate well in big firms.  Such candidates are usually better off focusing their search on other small firms who are accustomed to multiple practices.  Small firms will still be unsympathetic to attempts to change one’s practice area, however, just like the big firms.  In addition to the reasons cited above, firms do not want to spend money training veteran lawyers on new practice areas.  The key lesson is that when doing a legal job search, veteran candidates should stick to their one specialty area (or at most, two in some rare cases).  While a particular veteran candidate may have sound reasons for wanting to change their specialty, the reality is that the days of experimenting as a summer associate with what area you wanted to be in are long past.  The time to change a specialty, if at all, is after you have spent years working for a particular firm.

Should I use a recruiter?

 Q:  I’ve heard that it is a bad idea for attorney candidates to use recruiters because their fees make their candidates less desirable to the law firms.  Is this true?

Like most things you “hear” on the street, this statement is not reliable.  It is over-simplified at best and dead wrong at worst, depending on the particular circumstances.  Let us start with a short overview of how recruiters’ fees work.  Generally, it does not cost the candidate anything to use a recruiter.  The recruiter is paid a commission fee (usually 25% of the candidate’s first year compensation) by the law firm if and only if the law firm decides to hire the candidate.

Candidates also sometimes “hear” that the recruiter’s fee will be taken directly out of their first year compensation.  This is pure fiction.  The two transactions are separate.  Law firms negotiate fee agreements with recruiters and pay their fees for a very good reason – they want to hire some of the candidates that the recruiters bring to the firms.  It is part of the general cost of recruiting and doing business, and it is wise investment given the value of hiring a desirable attorney with hard to find skills and/or portable business.  By contrast, the decision to hire a candidate is based on that candidate’s merits and value in the market.  The fee has nothing to do with the hiring decision or the compensation, which is based on the firm’s policies and preferences.

Accordingly, a firm’s decision to hire a candidate represented by a recruiter makes the most sense when the candidate is exceptionally strong in comparison with the rest of the market.  In other words, the firm is seeking to get something it cannot normally get from the market, so it is reasonably willing to pay a fair premium, or finder’s fee, to the recruiter who brings them such a candidate.  If anything, the recruiter’s fee helps make such candidates appear even more desirable.  There are thus many reasons why it is in the interest of exceptional candidates to use a recruiter (see my prior article on the 12 reasons why it is best to work with a recruiter).

Of course, this also means that if a particular candidate is not exceptional compared to the market (e.g., they did not go to a top law school and/or have stellar grades; they are in a practice in which there is a large supply and low demand; they are not practicing at a “big firm;” they lack substantial portable business; and/or they have other problematic issues, such as “gaps” or “hopping” indicated on their resume) does not get the same major advantages in using a recruiter.  If the candidate’s credentials are essentially the same (or less) than the credentials of thousands of other applicants, then why would the firm want to pay a recruiter’s fee to hire them?  More on point, why would the firm want to interview them in the first place if the candidate is short on the merits?  In other words, while the fee usually does not directly impact a firm’s decision not to hire a mediocre or problematic candidate (as suggested at top), it is true that the recruiter’s services and attached fee are going to be (at best) of no help to that candidate.  The lesson here is that recruiters are best used for exceptional candidates.  More average candidates are usually better off not using a recruiter and applying to firms on their own if they wish.  At a minimum, they will not waste valuable time with a recruiter that can’t help them.

How Do Law Firms Treat “Gaps” in Your Resume?

“Gaps” or “holes” in a resume are popular terms used by law firms and other employers to describe an employment record that is not entirely smooth and uniform.  That is, there are unexplained “gaps” in the chronological dates of employment set form in the resume that suggest periods of unemployment or underemployment (such as less prestigious employment outside of the law profession).  Gaps are another form of “red flag” to law firms.  Candidates with red flags – especially multiple ones – typically do not get hired.

In my prior article, I discussed “hopping,” which is another common red flag.   Hopping describes attorney candidates who have worked at a relatively large number of firms in a relatively short period of time.  The two types of red flags are similar because law firms usually make negative assumptions – often unfounded – about the candidate.  In the case of hopping, the popular assumptions are that they are either always unhappy wherever they go, or that they always create problems causing their firms to push them out.  Similarly, the common assumptions with “gappers” is that when they lose a job, it must have been their fault (because they are either a poor worker or a problem worker); that when it takes them a while to find another job, it again must be entirely their own fault (ditto); and that any other gap can only be explained by something bad (they were in jail, goofing off, etc.).   Of course, while there are undoubtedly some instances where these assumptions may be true, there are many other instances where they are not.  Yet the innocent often get lumped in with the guilty, and otherwise great candidates lose their ability to even be seriously considered.

So what can be done to combat this kind of red flag?  The defense strategy is to use aggressive, up front means to explain each gap and why it is the result of something beyond the candidate’s control, or is otherwise excusable.  The gaps should not be hidden in the resume, but rather made plain with as much explanation as can be comfortably placed in the resume.  Additional detail goes in the cover letter.  Common explanation for gaps include unemployment due to broad lay-offs, bad economy, lack of work, firm collapsing, etc.; while long periods of unemployment can also be explained by negative economic and market conditions.  In addition, it is important to stay busy during unemployment and other “gap” times.  Law firms are more likely to accept candidates who were busy caring for sick family members or young children, volunteering, networking, building skills, etc. rather than sitting on the couch watching TV.  If needed, a candidate may use references up front to help combat assumptions that they are either poor or problem workers, or that they had good reasons to leave a certain firm or to be unemployed for a full year.  In sum, the key is getting the firm to focus on the facts of the candidate’s individual situation rather than lazily rely on unwarranted assumptions.

What Do Law Firms Mean by “Hopping?”

“Hopping” is not something that just rabbits and kangaroos do.  The term is also employed by law firms to describe attorney candidates who have worked at a relatively large number of firms in a relatively short period of time.  The term is derogatory, in that firms usually jump to the conclusion that “hoppers” are undesirable because they are always unhappy – or always create problems – wherever they are, and this conveniently explains why they have to change firms more often than “normal.”  Unfortunately, there is no objective standard of how many firms in how much time crosses the threshold from “normal” to “hopping.”  Thus, some firms may consider a particular candidate a “hopper,” while other firms may not.  Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines that can help identify whether a particular attorney is likely to face this label.

In fact, the criterion for “hopper” has shifted over time.  In the “old days,” attorneys generally stayed at one firm.  Movement between firms was rare and often seen as suspect, such that even individuals who had a single move on their resume could be branded a “hopper.”  In more recent years, of course, such movement has become increasingly more commonplace.  This is due to a variety of reasons that have little to do with whether a particular candidate is serially unhappy or troublesome, but rather have much more to do with the changing nature of law firms and the legal industry itself.  Put another way, while there are undoubtedly problem attorneys out there who quickly wear out their welcome wherever they go, it can no longer be legitimately assumed that a candidate who has made several changes over the years necessarily fits in that category.  As a result, candidates with just one or two moves on their resume are now much less likely to be considered hoppers.  But an attorney who has four or five firms on their resume – especially if within a short period of time — is still in danger of being stuck with the “hopper” label, thus cratering the attorney’s chance of an offer.  In these instances, it is best for recruiters to help prepare candidates ahead of time to successfully address the “hopper” label.  This can be done with carefully prepared answers to pertinent interview questions.  It can also be done more aggressively with rational explanations regarding each change in firms provided up front in the cover letter.  The goal is to demonstrate that the candidate left each firm for a variety of good reasons that do not reflect on the candidate’s character or fitness for a law firm.  For example, a firm may have gone under or been severely shaken by key departures, work may have run out, the odds for partnership may have been nearly insurmountable, clients may have been conflicted out, etc.  If the firm can be successfully persuaded that the candidate is not a “hopper” with all the negative assumptions that go with that label, then the candidate is more likely to be considered on the merits.

The Importance of Conflicts in Law Firm Applications

I often encounter candidates who have previously applied to a particular law firm – either on their own or through another recruiter.  Sometimes, they are frustrated because they have heard nothing in response, and they want me to do something about it.  Specifically, they want me to reapply to the particular law firm on their behalf and use my connections or long-term relationship with the particular law firm to get them the interview they believe they so well deserve.  Whatever the merits of their belief, I have to inform these candidates that I cannot help them with that particular law firm.  This is because of conflicts.  Once a candidate has applied to a law firm for a particular position, the firm will not accept subsequent applications from that same candidate.  (However, the candidate is not precluded from applying for a different position in the same law firm in the future).  If a law firm receives a second application for the same position from the same candidate, and at least one of the applications involves a recruiter, then a conflict situation is created.  Specifically, a potential dispute arises over whether the recruiter, or which recruiter, is entitled to a fee if the firm ultimately hires that candidate.  Obviously, recruiters do not like to be put in this position, where they may end up doing substantial work for no chance of compensation.  The firms do not like it either, because it creates the potential for legal action from one or more recruiters, as well as an administrative headache.  And it is bad for the candidate, who appears to the firm as someone who lacks the organization and professionalism to know what they are doing in their job search.  For these reasons, sending multiple applications for the same job – especially through recruiters – accomplishes nothing and harms everybody.  This is also true for candidates who send multiple applications on their own.  While they may not create a potential fee dispute, they still project an undesirable image of annoyance, desperation and/or incompetence to the firm.

I also occasionally encounter this conflict issues with candidates who have not kept careful track of what applications they have sent to which firms through what recruiters, if any.  One candidate in particular wanted me to contact his other two recruiters and piece together where and through whom he had previously sent scores of applications so that I could send out new applications without creating a conflict.  I explained to him that it is the responsibility of the candidate, not the recruiter, to keep complete track of their own job search.  Of course, recruiters should keep track of which applications they send out.  But they are under no obligation to play detective and try to discover where else the candidate has applied through what recruiters – even assuming these competing recruiters would want to provide this confidential information.  In sum, candidates should only apply for a particular position at a firm once, and they should make sure that their only shot is their best one.

The “Senior Attorney Trap”

Let’s say you own a typical small business.  You have two candidates seeking to fill one position in your company.  In terms of their credentials, the two candidates are virtually identical.  The only material difference between the two is that the second candidate has 10 more years of relevant work experience?  Who do you hire?  If you really are a business owner or manager, your answer would probably be the second candidate.  But would that also your answer be if you were a partner in a law firm?

I regularly receive calls from “senior attorneys” seeking help on their job search.  I mean “senior” in a very broad sense, in the way the law firms define it.  At about 1-2 years out of law school, you are a “junior associate.”  At 3-4 years or so, you are a “midlevel associate.”  And at about 5-6 years, you are a “senior associate,” a title that may extent 1-2 years further, depending on the firm.  After 7-8 years, if you have not already made at least the first level of partnership, an issue arises as to what law firms will call you.  Generally, law firms do not have associates past 8th year, so such firms show typically you the door.  The term I find that best defines the situation is “senior attorney” – meaning too senior to be an associate (or more than 7-8 years out of law school).  Senior attorneys face a difficult dilemma in the market.  It is a dilemma I call the “senior attorney trap” because it greatly decreases your market value automatically as you accumulate more experience.  In other words, it is a trap that you simply cannot avoid.  Many senior attorneys who are looking are unaware that they are in this trap.  This is especially true of solo practitioners, who have not practiced in a firm for a long time, if at all.

For example, I received a recent call from a “senior attorney” who was about 15 years out from law school.  He also had no significant portable business, which would have made him able to seek a position in a law firm as a partner.  Without such business, I explained, he was in the “senior attorney trap” and thus would find it very difficult to find him work in a law firm.  The candidate pointed out, quite reasonably, that he has a lot more experience than any of the associates in the law firms.  Unfortunately, while this may have weight in the business world (see example at top), it has very little weight in the legal world.  Generally speaking, law firms will not hire lawyers that are more “senior” than the amount of years sought for a particular associate position.  There are, of course, a few exceptions.  For example, a firm seeking an associate with 4-6 years of experience may decide to hire a 7th year associate who has especially good credentials.  But you won’t normally see “15th year associates” or someone out of law school for 15 years working as a 5th year associate in a major law firm.   The one place where an exception is more likely to be found is in a very small firm, as such firms can make their own rules.

There are also exceptions to the “portable business” rule, although they too are few and limited.  A a general rule, major firms will not hire a senior attorney just because they are a great lawyer and/or have great credentials, like they may do for an associate (provided they have enough work).  Instead, the partner candidate are generally required have substantial portable business, ranging from about $500K for smaller firms to $3M+ for major firms.  In other words, the partner must be able to keep themselves (and preferably others also) busy.  Sometimes, however, law firms will make an associate a partner who lacks sufficient business, but usually only if some other partner is generating enough work to cover him.  The other exception is that on rare occasions major firms will hire senior attorneys who lack sufficient business, usually as “of counsel.”  But again, this is only done if there is enough work from another partner, client or other source that can keep the new partner fully occupied and where there is no one else in the firm who can do the work.  As soon as that big deal or case slows down, a partner or counsel finds themselves with not enough work to be fully busy faces being “downsized” by the firm.

What is the best way to find a good legal recruiter?

By “good,” I mean a recruiter who is highly capable, dedicated and experienced – and best for you.  Below are answers to three common questions regarding this subject.

Where do I look for a recruiter?  Both the internet and recommendations are good sources.  In general, it is best to work with one of the top national recruiting companies, such as BCG Attorney Search.  They have higher standards for their recruiters, as well as the ability to attract the most talented recruiters in the country.  In addition, the top companies have long-established relationships with major firms, as well as access to the best information, particularly if you practice or seek to practice in a major firm one of the top legal markets.  These companies normally cover smaller legal markets as well.  Remember, cost is not an issue, so you may as well get the best.

What do I look for in a recruiter?  In terms of credentials, the ideal recruiters are usually former lawyers who went to a similar type of law school and worked in a similar type of law firm as you did.  This usually makes the best match.  If, for example, you happen to have stellar credentials, it would be to your advantage to work with a recruiter with a similar background who has placed similar candidates in elite firms.  Such recruiters are more likely to have the experience, connections and information that a stellar candidate would want.  Of course, just as fancy law schools and elite law firms do not always guarantee high quality in lawyers, the same is true for recruiters.  So you should not just rely on the labels.  There are also some excellent recruiters who are not lawyers at all.  Most of them previously worked as a “recruiting coordinator” for a major firm, which provides them with valuable knowledge.  The next thing you should look for is recruiting experience.  Of course, there are “beginner” recruiters who are talented and dedicated, but experience is definitely a major plus.  This is especially true for partner candidates, who face a more complex search.  They should choose a recruiter who has at least several years of experience in placing partners in major firms, and who ideally was once a partner themselves.

How do I know if my recruiter is doing a good job?  The best recruiters provide you with key information and respond to you in a timely manner.  They take the time to answer your questions and explain the recruiting process to you, as well as provide valuable advice.  They write well, are articulate and professional, and they are dedicated to getting you the best job possible.  They are also honest – they will tell you when your chances at a particular firm are not good and why.  And they are ethical.  They do not send your resume all over town without your permission.  Lastly, you need a recruiter you can be comfortable with and trust.  If the recruiter is falling short in one or more of these areas, you should alert them.  If they do not remedy the situation, you may need to inform them that you are going to make a change.  If you have chosen well, however, this will likely never become necessary.

12 Reasons Why You Should Work With a (Good) Recruiter for Your Legal Job Search (Part 3 of 3)

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 third of three parts.  The first part explored the first 4 of these 12 reasons in more depth.  The second part (part II) addressed reasons 5-8 in more depth, and this part (part III) will cover reasons 9-12.

Part I

  1. Recruiters are normally free.
  2. “Good” recruiters are very low risk.
  3. Recruiters have valuable expertise with regard to how the complex market works.
  4. Recruiters provide objective advice and representation.

Part II

  1. Recruiters know the national and local legal job markets.
  2. Recruiters understand your practice, needs and preferences.
  3. Recruiters provide valuable advice about which firms are the best “fit” for you.
  4. Recruiters know how best to “play the game” with respect to applications.

Part III

  1. Recruiters can best assist you with interviews.
  2. Recruiters provide valuable organizing, scheduling and oversight.
  3. Recruiters assist you with evaluating and negotiating offers.
  4. Recruiters assist you with deciding whether to accept an offer.

REASON 9– Anyone can interview for a job.  But interviewing well is a complex art.  Certainly, there are attorneys who are very smart, well-polished and think they can interview well.  A few of them actually can.  The great majority, however, will need the help of an interview expert, such as a good recruiter, in order to maximize their chances for an offer.  It is difficult to overstate the importance of the interview in the recruiting process.  Interviewing is yet another important area where the recruiter provides expertise that the attorney does not have the time or background to effectively acquire on their own.

REASON 10 –Recruiters also provide value in terms of the extensive organizing, scheduling and oversight that goes into a typical search.  But recruiters are more than just administrative assistants.  They also serve as the candidate’s representative, advisor and advocate.  Going back to the issue of whether going through a “friend” is generally preferable to using a good recruiter in Reason 4; will your “friend” handle your entire search for you and provide you with objective, expert advice and representation?  Moreover, if you use a recruiter, you not only avoid the problems of solely using a “friend,” but you gain the best of both worlds.  Your friend can continue to be your “cheerleader” after you have been introduced by the recruiter without having to worry about the other issues discussed above.

REASON 11- Recruiters are experts with respect to offers and how they compare to the market.  They can also provide valuable “inside information” regarding each firm that has provided an offer.  Skilled recruiters can even time offers so that the candidate experiences a “bidding war” – a very nice place to be.  In addition, they are objective experts.  It does not matter to a recruiter whether you decide to go with firm A or firm B.  Obviously, any “friend” that you may have at the firm cannot be so objective.

REASON 12 – At the offer stage, all of the advantages of using a good recruiter come together.  These advantages include the recruiter’s knowledge and expertise regarding your desires and needs, the proper “fit” for your practice, information about the firms and information about the market.  All of these advantages are at the candidate’s disposal as they make one of the most important decisions of their lives.  Sophisticated professionals and businesses pay a great deal of money for the expert advice of lawyers whenever they have a major business or legal decision to make.  Why shouldn’t you also get (free) expert advice for crucial decisions about your legal career?

12 Reasons Why You Should Work With a (Good) Recruiter for Your Legal Job Search (Part 2 of 3)

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 second of three parts.  The first part explored the first 4 of these 12 reasons in more depth.  This part (part II) will address reasons 5-8 in more depth, and the upcoming part III will cover reasons 9-12.

Part I

  1. Recruiters are normally free.
  2. “Good” recruiters are very low risk.
  3. Recruiters have valuable expertise with regard to how the complex market works.
  4. Recruiters provide objective advice and representation.

Part II

  1. Recruiters know the national and local legal job markets.
  2. Recruiters understand your practice, needs and preferences.
  3. Recruiters provide valuable advice about which firms are the best “fit” for you.
  4. Recruiters know how best to “play the game” with respect to applications.

Part III

  1. Recruiters can best assist you with interviews.
  2. Recruiters provide valuable organizing, scheduling and oversight.
  3. Recruiters assist you with evaluating and negotiating offers.
  4. Recruiters assist you with deciding whether to accept an offer.

REASON 5- The good recruiters will know the local market well.  They will have built up strong relationships and credibility with the local firms.  This means they can not only help you find the right firm, they can also help you get in the door.  Large recruiting companies like BCGSearch have the added advantage of being able to cover the national market.  They do this by splitting the market into different zones or territories, with recruiters becoming experts in their “zone.”  This expertise allows busy candidates to save a very large amount of time trying to research and learn entire legal markets.

REASON 6 –The best recruiters will speak with you in depth in order to fully understand your practice, needs and preferences.  This is necessary so that the candidate and recruiter will be able to properly identify the most appropriate firms.  This experience and skill is especially crucial for partners or other attorneys with portable business because of the many additional complexities involved.

REASON 7 – Recruiters are able to use their knowledge of a candidate’s practice, needs and preferences, along with their deep knowledge of local firms, in order to best identify which firms are the best “fit: for the particular candidate.  Recruiters also provide a valuable objective perspective to this very important question.  While the candidate should make the final choice, of course, this “narrowing process” is critical to conducting an efficient and effective search.  Absent such guidance, much time can be lost.

REASON 8 – As noted in the first part, 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.”  Recruiters have this critical knowledge and experience with respect to the entire process, starting with the applications.  Although a candidate needs to have strong credentials to begin with in order to work effectively with a recruiter, even the very best candidates must still face tough competition in a difficult market.  Recruiters help strong candidates to resolve any potential issues, effectively “sell” their strengths and to “stand out” from the rest of the pack, thus increasing their chances for an interview.