Guidelines for Candidates Working with Legal Recruiters

It's important to establish some basic ground rules with whomever you decide to engage to assist you with professional career advice:

  1. Have a clear understanding with your recruiter as to where they may and may not submit your resume. A responsible recruiter will clear it through you first before submitting your resume to a prospective employer. Work with recruiters who obtain your permission prior to sharing your resume with a third party.
  2. Communicate clearly what you ARE and ARE NOT interested in. Be wary of any recruiter who pressures you to do something that you are not interested in doing. Make sure that whomever you select to work with respects your input.
  3. Work with a recruiter who is willing to tell you as much about himself/herself as he/she is going to ask you to divulge about yourself. Frequently, a recruiter who was referred to you by someone you trust is a safer bet than one who runs the largest ad in the legal periodical to which your firm or company subscribes. Don't be afraid to ask for references from candidates and clients.
  4. Establish a communications protocol that will maintain your confidentiality. Would you prefer to be contacted at home or at work? Do you prefer to be contacted via email or cell phone? Ask whomever you are working with whether they've ever experienced breaches of confidentiality.
  5. Ask questions of your recruiter. Why is there an opening? What is this person and firm like to work for? What type of billable hour pace do I need to maintain to have a realistic opportunity to make partner? What is the firm's reputation and track record when it comes to admitting eligible associates into the partnership? Is the firm profitable? What is it like to be a partner in the firm? Does the firm pay bonuses? If so, are the bonuses guaranteed or discretionary? The recruiter may not have all of the answers initially, but he or she can certainly endeavor to find out.
  6. Make sure that whomever you work with is prepared to put your interest ahead of his or her own. Don't be afraid to test your recruiter's objectivity. Ask them to share with you their strengths and weaknesses with regard to assisting with your candidacy.
  7. Make it a priority to work with a recruiter who is accessible and responsive to your needs. Career decisions are important. Your calls deserve to be returned. Your email inquiries are worthy of a timely response.
  8. Please be completely candid and forthcoming with your recruiter. Expect the same of him or her in return. If you are working with more than one recruiter or have conducted your own, independent search, let each recruiter know.
  9. Keep tabs on where your resume has been sent, whether it is by you or someone else. It is your responsibility to play "traffic cop" to ensure that your resume is not sent to the same prospective employer twice. Such a faux pas can make everyone look bad.
  10. Finally, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true! If you are not confident that you will enhance your career by making the move, then do not make it. Remember, the position that generates the highest fee for the contingency recruiter, may or may not be the best position for you.