There are thousands of legal recruiters in the US and some are better than others. As a potential client, not knowing what to look for in a legal recruiter can be disastrous. Here’s a recent example of two candidates who mistakenly placed their trust in the same legal recruiting firm:
“My husband and I both submitted our resume to the agency to help in our job search. We submitted our resumes separately, of course and we both received an email back saying they do not have the resources to help us. Both of us have 15 years of experience, so I am not sure who they help.”
As opposed to their experience, a good legal recruiter should be knowledgeable, focused, responsive, dedicated, reputable and trustworthy. Determining how good a recruiter is at their job isn’t easy, but we’ve provided several ways you can screen them. Read on to learn more about how to spot those must-have legal recruiter qualities.
How to Find the Best Legal Recruiter for the Job
The best recruiters often require you finding them and starting that conversation. A recruiter is an advocate that has the ability to get your resume in front of the right people. Experienced legal recruiters have spent years developing relationships with law firms and corporate legal departments for the benefit of their candidates. A recruiter also provides additional information to a hiring manager by gaining more details that a cover letter can’t adequately explain.
Finding a recruiter is the easy part; determining their level of success and network reach can be a challenge though. However, there are more resources at your disposal than you think.
Ask for Recommendations
One of the best ways to find a qualified recruiter is to ask former and present colleagues for recommendations. Reach out discretely to fellow members of professional associations, LinkedIn contacts, college alumni, friends, neighbors and family members to inquire about their personal experience with recruiters.
Check Professional Association Resources
Review the job listings in professional publications and notice which agencies are advertising to members of your group. Some professional organizations allow recruiters to present at conferences or staff vendor tables which will provide an opportunity for you to connect with them on a personal level.
Meet in Person
Whenever possible, meet a recruiter in person. It’s highly beneficial for both parties. The recruiter will have a better idea of your personality and other intangibles that figure into this process. We regularly have clients ask, “have you met this candidate in person”? Really can make a difference and will help the recruiter.
Qualities the Best Legal Recruiters Have
Once you’ve compiled a list of search firms that you may want to partner with it’s time to further narrow down those candidates. To make it happen, here are some key qualities to look for in the headhunter:
They Serve Your Industry or Placement Type
There are two types of recruiters. Some search firms only focus on one tier of legal professionals, like attorneys or administrative staffing. First, determine what type of position that your firm or company is looking to fill, for example C-level, Director, Executive Assistant, Paralegal or all the above.
A generalist that will work across several industry platforms with often a large range of candidates – entry level to directors. This can be a good choice for someone with a broad job history and diverse experience. A 2nd option is a specialty recruiter that focus on one professional industry (i.e. legal, technology or sales). With legal recruiters, a sector of the market is typically carved-out — that could mean attorneys only or partner-level only. While other legal recruiters focus on staff.
Finding a search firm with expertise recruiting at all skill levels may make them a better long-term solution for all your needs. Look for recruiters that can handle the search entirely on their own, or that offer resources to supplement an internal recruiting department effort. Before agreeing to work with any recruiter, thoroughly research the legal recruiting firm that they are affiliated with and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.
They have a Well-established Background as a Recruiter
If a recruiter has never walked in your shoes as an attorney or paralegal it may be hard for them to understand your perspective. For how long have they been a recruiter? If they are part of a search firm, which headhunter will be specifically assigned to handle your firm or company?
They have Several Resources at Their Disposal
Ask about the search firm’s passive and active recruiting tactics and tools. How do they identify, attract and screen qualified candidates? Do they maintain a proprietary database and paid subscriptions to industry specific candidate pools?
They Value Confidentiality
Confidentiality is key for both clients and candidates. If you’re a candidate, will the recruiter not post your resume anywhere else without your express prior authorization? Are they adept at only screening candidates that are highly qualified to interview for a specific opening? Do they value the confidentiality of all parties involved?
They are Responsive and Readily Available
When your firm’s hourly billable rate is hundreds of dollars, trying to reach a nonresponsive headhunter who doesn’t value your time lowers your bottom line. A good recruiter will be readily available when you need them, including weekends or evenings, and will use several communication methods to stay in touch.
They have an “Off Limits” Policy
Reputable search firms follow an “off limits” policy, which means they will not recruit from clients where they have active searches or recent placements. As a potential employer, will this off-limits policy affect your recruiting timetable?
They a Full-service Recruiter
A full-service recruiting firm will offer everything that you’re looking for, including a job description, sourcing and screening of candidates, interview coordination and preparation, negotiation assistance, and post-hiring integration of new hires.
They have a Tested and Proven Process
Ask questions to understand the process. Make sure the recruiter understands the type of work you do and how this aligns with the type of job you’re seeking. Do they work with candidates with a similar skill set to yours? Do they work with employers that are looking to hire someone with your background and experience? Ask how their entire recruiting to placement process works, including points of contact, resume review and coordinating interviews. Does the recruiter provide a transparent roadmap for candidate delivery?
They have Reasonable Fees, Policies and Guarantees
Many legal search firms will charge a different fee for placing attorneys as opposed to staff. Find out what the recruiter’s fees are, for how long the search firm guarantees the new hire, and what their replacement or refund policies are.
They have a Great Reputation within the Market
This may be the most important quality to look for when hiring a recruiter. Your career or firm’s reputation is too valuable to work with a recruiter that you’re not comfortable with. Investigate the search firm’s reputation by reading online reviews, their website and LinkedIn profile. Are there any client testimonials that might lead you to believe that the headhunter isn’t reputable?
They have a Robust Candidate Portfolio
Another area where a good legal search firm provides value is by presenting a vast portfolio of on-point candidates who are not currently in the job market. The ability to develop and maintain key relationships with highly qualified candidates in one of the main benefits of partnering with a search firm. Does the recruiter stay in touch with highly sought-after legal professionals that could fill anticipated openings at your firm or company?
They have a High Level of Market Knowledge
Any recruiter worth hiring should stay constantly updated on hot practice areas, business news that impacts your industry, compensation, and the level of search that’s required. Does the recruiting firm in question have a strong working knowledge of your search market? Are they located in the same city or state in which you want to work or hire? A good recruiter should be knowledgeable about their market and be able to share that information with you, like what the going rate (aka compensation) is for a job and for someone with your skillset and experience, advice regarding your resume, and interview preparation.
Your Client-Trusted Legal Recruiting Firm in Texas
Momentum Search Partners is your trusted legal recruiting firm in Texas. With offices in Austin, Dallas and Houston our six headhunters keep their fingers constantly on the pulse of the local and statewide legal markets. With a combined 100 years of industry experience and over 1,000 placements, we connect elite Texas legal departments and law firms with exceptional talent every day. Start experiencing the Momentum difference today by contacting one of our award-winning legal recruiters!