Guidelines for Clients Working with Legal Recruiters

It's important to establish some basic ground rules with whomever you decide to engage to assist you in attracting the right candidate for the position that you are seeking to fill:

  1. Have a clear understanding with your recruiter that only candidate-authorized submissions will be accepted. A responsible recruiter will clear it through his or her candidate first before submitting a candidate resume to you. Avoid any overzealous recruiter who does not obtain his or her candidate’s permission in advance of submitting that candidate’s resume to you.
  2. Communicate clearly what you ARE and ARE NOT interested in. Be wary of any recruiter who pressures you to interview or hire candidates you are not interested in hiring. Make sure that whomever you select to work with respects the parameters that you have given to them.
  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 the opportunity with your company. 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 insulate you from a plethora of inquiries from overzealous or under qualified candidates. Do you prefer to be contacted via email or telephone? Ask whomever you are working with whether they've experienced breaches of confidentiality.
  5. Ask questions of your recruiter. How do you go about identifying, screening, and attracting your candidates? Do you advertise? Have you ever placed candidates similar to the one that I am asking you to place? What are the pros and cons of a retained search versus a contingency search? What are your fees and payment terms? What happens if the candidate does not work out? Do you guarantee the candidates that you place or will you replace them?
  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 why you should use a search firm to fill the position that you are seeking to fill. Ask them to share with you their strengths and weaknesses with regard to assisting you in attracting the right candidates to your firm or company.
  7. Do not work with a recruiter who is not accessible or responsive to your needs. Be wary of any recruiter who screens out your calls or takes an inordinate amount of time to respond to your messages. You may be less important to them than you'd like to be.
  8. Be completely candid and forthcoming with your recruiter and 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 precisely when and from whom you received each resume. If you are using more than one recruiter, it is your responsibility to play "traffic cop" to ensure that the resume that you received has not been previously submitted independently or by another search firm. 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! Be wary of the recruiter who is quick to promise and slow to deliver. If the search firm that you are working with is making your task more difficult, rather than easier, cease working with them. Remember, the recruiter who submits the greatest quantity of resumes within the first week of the search is often less desirable than the recruiter who submits the perfect candidate within the first month of the search.