Legal recruiters bring many benefits to your job search

Looking for a new career opportunity can be like taking on another full-time job. The networking, job postings, cover letters and resumes, unexplained/unacknowledged delays, and the interviews can all take their toll and add to a sometimes stressful process.

That’s where a legal recruiter can step in to help.

A legal recruiting (or legal search) firm assists attorneys in exploring their employment options by matching your skillsets to your A-list of prospective employers. At Thomas Jones Consulting, I specialize in attorney recruitment. I work with law firms and in-house legal departments to place associates, partners, and in-house counsel in Washington, DC, New York City, and California.

By working with a recruiting firm, you have the opportunity to have your materials reviewed by and to connect with a variety of hiring managers and attorneys interested in finding the right people for their firm’s or company’s current strategic expansion or specific practice growth needs.

Two benefits of working with an established, personable, positive, and diligent legal recruiter are the personal time savings realized by entrusting various aspects of your search to an expert who understands and keeps your interests and goals in mind. Your recruiter may also provide exposure to exclusive unadvertised, or not yet advertised, opportunities.

Top tips for making the most of your relationship with a legal recruiter:

Choose the right recruiter

As every law firm is not the same, not every recruitment firm is the same. Before investing yourself, your time, and your efforts into the relationship, spend some time researching your options. Make sure that the recruiting firm and recruiter are willing and able to help someone with your career profile (i.e., practice background, career experience, career path, upward mobility, etc.) and professional goals.

Take some time to prepare yourself for your initial recruiter call or in-person meeting

The recruiter’s goal for the initial call or meeting is to learn more about you, your career progression and personal goals, and to work with you to determine the available opportunities that will best address the ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ that are missing or unavailable to you in your current place of employment.

Approach the initial call or meeting with your recruiter just as you would any job interview with an employer. Well, not exactly.

Whether you connect in-person or remotely, make sure that you are well-prepared. Be prepared to talk about your employment experience, work habits, career objectives, and workplace culture preferences. If you are speaking with your recruiter about a specific job opportunity that piqued your interest, do a little research on the law firm or company (or quickly review the information provided by your recruiter) before your call so that you can have a fruitful discussion about the opportunity.

Let the job search commence

Once you have done your initial call or meeting, the recruiter will be prepared to represent you with more than just your resume. They should have a clearer picture of you and your ‘ideal’ or ‘current’ next position in mind:

  • Professional and Technical skills or specialties
  • Soft skills (i.e., Interpersonal and communication skills, EQ, personality, etc.)
  • Short-term employment objectives and career progression goals
  • Long-term career goals

The process to find a recruiter may sound a little like applying for a job – and it is, sort of. However, once you have selected a recruiter to work with, the recruiter will start doing the heavy lifting. The recruiter can leverage her network of contacts, recruiter colleagues with appropriate roles, and organizations that fit your career goals to search for opportunities matching your preferences in a prospective position. Established recruiters often have rooted industry contacts and may have advanced knowledge of unadvertised job openings.

Continuously improve your marketability

Your recruiter should be able to make recommendations on maintaining or improving your marketability and may share critical tips related to the market or employers that most interest you. Take advantage of any professional development and training opportunities that your recruiter mentions, as well as keeping your professional online presence, such as LinkedIn, up to date and optimized for the career path and goals that you have identified.

Be responsive

If your recruiter contacts you, get back to her or him when your schedule allows. As a recruiter, I understand that ‘life happens,’ and there will be circumstances that arise where contacting your recruiter will be quite low on the priority list. I get it. No worries. Let your recruiter know you have received the message when you have a chance. A quick text, email, or call will put most recruiters at ease, letting them know that you are aware of the message. Do not let a recruiter become a source of increased stress or annoyance. We are here to help, and sometimes that requires the patience and ability to deal with what is in front of you right now. That won’t always be the job search. Some groups need to hire quickly, and in those instances, you certainly don’t want to miss out on an excellent opportunity.

Once you begin interviewing with prospective employers, your recruiter will prepare you by answering any questions you might have related to the opportunity, scheduled interviewers, law firm or company work environment expectations, and any prepared interview questions you might want to ask or be ready to answer. Initial interviews can range from 30-45 minute ‘Screening’ interviews with a Partner/Hiring Committee/Human Resources Chief, to a full round of meetings taking up several hours of the day. Lateral Partner and GC meetings often involve travel between offices and may require weeks of advanced planning. The goal with any first meeting, if an offer isn’t possible after an initial full round of meetings, is to get a second meeting. Going into your interviews prepared and confident will allow your personality, expertise, and the benefits that you will bring to the prospective employer to shine even brighter.

Stay engaged

If you aren’t receiving interviews with potential employers, reach out to your recruiter and ask what you can do to improve your chances. However, if you’ve been successful in landing interviews on your own, keep your recruiter in the loop. Keep in mind that, especially for non-recruiter positions, the recruiter may have contacts with the employer, and may be able to help you make further inroads with a given opportunity. Every effort or avenue taken could have a potential benefit.

It is central to the recruiting process that you maintain contact with your recruiter. While they will keep you apprised of potential roles that become available, it is acceptable to check in with them as your schedule and circumstances dictate. Open lines of communication are an essential part of the Attorney Candidate-Recruiter relationship.