Should you use a legal recruiter for your job search?
If you have been practicing for a few years, are still at your first job, and fall in with the majority of associates, chances are that you are or shortly may be seeking a lateral move to take the next step in your prestigious legal career. A big decision that requires focus and planning is how to go about obtaining that next position. Part of that decision is whether to use legal recruiters or go at it with your established connections, or even both. Im not here to tell you one way or the other what to do if you are in a search, but in speaking to a number of young lawyers, and frankly, in fielding a few cold calls myself, I wanted to share some of the better lines Ive heard myself or been told of by fellow young lawyers, and what it means to most of us who, in my unofficial poll, I have found appear skeptical of what they hear from some, but, to be fair, certainly not all, recruiters.
(1) “I think this is an excellent fit for you.” Skeptic’s interpretation – Take the job sucker, so I can get paid. I know all about you and your career aspirations from a short telephone conversation filled with generic questions and generic answers, martindale hubbeling (new verb!) your name, and reading your resume without ever meeting you.
(2) “This is the best offer I am going to be able to get for you.” Skeptic’s interpretation – Listen, you got an offer. Just take it. I don’t want to have to work this hard again to get your sorry credentials another offer so that you actually have more than one option.
(3) “Sometimes the best job offer is the first job offer.” Skeptic’s interpretation – Same as #2 above.
(4) “You are not going to get into that firm that you requested I submit your credentials, so why even bother.” Skeptic’s interpretation – I want you to take the offer on the table that I got you and I don’t want to even try to get you into another firm. Besides, at your level, you don’t even want to work for so and so firm because it means blah blah blah.
(5) “This position where you received the offer is highly coveted and they are turning down candidates with higher credentials than you, like double ivy league, magna cum laude, etc.” Skeptic’s interpretation – I know you never heard of the place, but trust me, its the best.
(6) “Your resume looks great. Forward me your transcript and Ill call you to discuss.” You forward your transcript and never hear from them again. Skeptic’s interpretation – I’m done with you. Your bio looked great when I read it off of your firm’s website but that C- in sports law will stick with you for the rest of your life. that’s just the reality of the situation in this field.
Don’t get be wrong. Some have voiced favorable opinions of recruiters and the good, hardworking, honest ones surely are out there and of course often make the search easier and are very resourceful. After all, they need to retain their clients by placing quality individuals who work out, as opposed to just placing anyone. But the majority opinion it seems in my very unofficial poll of young lawyers is to be a little wary and reluctant to believe everything you hear from them. Remember how they typically get paid. The fact is that most of the time, they work for the employer, so while they sugarcoat and tell you how great a fit you are for a particular position, remember that you don’t pay them. They get paid when you get placed, and ultimately, you should be the only one in control of that decision, which means you should do your best to control them, not vice versa.