Every now and then we are asked the question – why should I use a recruiter and not just apply myself?
It’s a legitimate question and one we too would also ask ourselves if we were contemplating a career change. We have been exposed to all sides of recruitment. Initially as a candidate, then as a Human Resources Manager or Lawyer, and now as an Executive Legal Recruiter. What we have learned from each experience, like any industry, there are people who are extremely good at what they do and who add value, and then there are others who are just going through the motions and hoping to make a quick buck.
Whether you’re in the market for a painter to paint your house, a lawyer to draft a Contract, or a legal recruiter to assist with your next career move, you will need to do your research. Ask people you trust for recommendations, and why. Also consider if your circumstances are the same as theirs.
Once you have made the decision to explore the market, don’t be afraid to interview your recruiter. Be realistic in your expectations but keep them honest by making sure they provide you with relevant information, preferably in writing, which will assist you in making decisions about the direction of your career. If your legal recruiter is truly partnering with you they should be able to give you:
An idea of their processes and commitment to confidentiality;
Information about the role, the team and the organisation, and any questions they can’t answer they should be able come back to you after conferring with the prospective employer;
Ensure they will guarantee your resume will not be submitted to the prospective employer without your written consent. We may seem a little finicky about that, but it’s just the way we think - it’s so fundamentally important to understand that no-one should be taking risks with your livelihood. Pause for a moment and ponder that. This is your career, not anyone else’s, and your legal recruiter should go to considerable lengths to ensure it is protected, and advanced in the right direction;
Your legal recruiter should also have a strong knowledge of your industry – the legal profession, allowing them to match your skills, experience and motivations with the right organisation;
Your motivations are key. There is always a reason for leaving a job, and the last thing you want to do is change jobs only to find you’re faced with the same issues you were trying to get away from.
By engaging with a specialist legal recruiter you’re in a position to:
Be exposed to a wealth of knowledge about prospective organisations which essentially allows you to have all your sensitive questions answered about the role and the employer before deciding whether to actually apply.
If there are additional questions you need qualified before presenting a formal application your legal recruiter should be in a position to ask these whilst maintaining your anonymity. Essentially, your interests should be unequivocally preserved until you are ready to dip your toe in the water.
Should you decide to move forward you should also benefit from their experience gained over a decade or more of understanding what legal employers are looking for, the best content for your documents, as well as what not to disclose.
They should coordinate meetings discreetly with all communication directed to the personal contact details you provide, and make absolutely no contact with you at work.
Once you have had your interview with the prospective employer, you should be provided with feedback promptly so you know whether that prospective employer is genuinely interested. Therefore the doubt and wondering are removed.
Should you be receptive to an offer from the employer your legal recruiter should ensure the offer is at fair market value for your skillset and will negotiate salaries and benefits on your behalf.
As you may appreciate, salary negotiations can be a tricky one as many people find it uncomfortable to talk about money without compromising their employment. Everyone would always like more, but how can you go about getting what you’re worth and still maintain a great relationship with someone you’re about to work with day in and day out. There are many instances where candidates have priced themselves out of their dream job by being unrealistic when communicating their salary expectations. Knowledge of current market rates through your legal recruiter will allow you to make an informed decision as to what you would ideally like and what you would be prepared to accept for a position that is otherwise perfect and may even offer other benefits which will bridge the gap.
Salary is not the only thing you may not want to talk about with a prospective employer. It could be their staff retention rates, parental leave policies, or flexible working conditions. You may not be considering starting a family for another 5 years, but you may want to know your next employer will have family friendly policies engrained in their culture, not just on their website. So how do you ask these questions without them thinking you will be applying for parental leave as soon as you qualify? Your main motivation may be ensuring you are moving to a stable work environment and you want to know the longevity of the staff without feeling like you are questioning the integrity and culture of the organisation. These are all issues your legal recruiter should be able to assist with based on their knowledge of these employers.
Additionally, as a busy professional you may not have time to monitor all the job boards, not to mention individual websites, or the silent market where roles are not actually publicised. You know the ones – that dream job where you ask yourself “How the hell did that person jag that?” An experienced legal recruiter will be monitoring all the advertised opportunities in the market, and be abreast of an employer’s immediate and future requirements, so you won’t miss a career defining opportunity.
Your relationship with your legal recruiter should be one where they keep you appraised of potential opportunities and continue to communicate with you via your preferred method (email, text, afterhours phone call), so you can avoid multiple calls throughout the day potentially raising suspicion with your current employer.
So, there you have it. As a formally qualified lawyer, this is the standard of relationship you need and should expect from your legal recruiter. Don’t accept anything that is substandard. There are a few good legal recruiters out there, you just need to find the right one.
Author - Trudy Reading, Senior Client Advisor
Editor - Craig Ashton-Sward, Director & Senior Client Advisor