Job searching in the legal world is hard. You already work long hours in a highly demanding environment. Adding the daunting task of flipping through job ads at the end of the day is an overwhelming thought. Before you start spending late nights re-reading the same career postings, ask yourself, should I call a recruiter? If you meet the criteria below, you should consider engaging someone who has the time and energy to help you make the most of your job search.

1. You Can Tell Your Recruiter What You’re Looking For 

It’s very hard for a recruiter (or anyone) to help you when you don’t know what you want. Before jumping into your next job search, take some time for self-reflection. What do you like about your current job? What don’t you like? Why are you leaving, or why are you open to other opportunities? Answering these questions for yourself, even broadly, will give you and the recruiter something to work with. It’s important not to skip this difficult step. You don’t want to bounce around from job to job, so finding a good fit for you is crucial.

2. It’s Still Early in Your Search

Often, job seekers will start the search on their own and speak to a recruiter if interviews or offers aren’t coming through. The temptation to take this approach is natural, however if you’ve applied to every company in town, you’ve limited the recruiter’s ability to help. Recruiters often have existing relationships with companies, and having someone with credibility bring your name forward helps you get noticed. The hiring manager may see more value in your application if a recruiter thinks your credentials are strong enough to introduce you. However, a recruiter can’t submit you if you’ve already applied yourself, so best to get connected with a recruiter early. In relation to this, be honest with where you’ve applied on your own. It makes everyone look bad if the same person is submitted twice.

3. Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile Are Up To Date

One of the first things a recruiter will ask for is an updated resume. Proper resume drafting is a blog entry in itself (found here), but the crucial point is that it should be tailored to the job you’re seeking. Since you’ve done the hard work of deciding what you want, highlight the experience and transferable skills you have to reach this new goal. A recruiter will also look at your resume and provide advice to help you stand out.

While you’re updating your resume, don’t neglect your LinkedIn account. Make sure your job history, with details regarding your area of practice, is up to date and consistent with your resume if you’re looking to make a change. Recruiters and hiring managers often look at these accounts. This also increases your chances of a recruiter reaching out to you directly for potential opportunities.

4. You See The Benefits Of Working With A Recruiter (And Are Ready to Delegate Part of the Job Hunt)

As lawyers, we’ve been successful by having a take-charge attitude. When it comes to working with a recruiter though, it can lead to having too many cooks in the kitchen. Recruiters bring a lot of benefits to your job search. They’ll spend precious time you don’t have researching who’s hiring in your area and doing initial introductions. As mentioned above, they also have existing relationships with many companies, which is a benefit when a company is not looking or advertising. Many companies are willing to consider strong candidates, even if they haven’t put up a job posting. Having a recruiter submit your name can get you in a door that you didn’t even know was open. A recruiter may also suggest companies you’ve never thought of.

To benefit the most, you have to be willing to let the recruiter act on your behalf. Managing the relationship you have with your recruiter is an important part of the process, which we’ve covered here, and this should be kept in mind throughout your job search.

5. You Haven’t Actually Quit Yet

If you’ve decided it’s time to leave your existing role, you should contact a recruiter before you quit. There are, of course, circumstances where you should quit immediately. Recruiters and hiring managers are understanding of these situations. However, quitting for the sole purpose of focusing on your job search is a hard pitch at other companies. Right or wrong, a fact of job hunting is that it’s easier to find a new job when you’re currently employed.

If you’ve chosen to quit, be honest with the recruiter as to why. If you land interviews, the hiring manager is going to ask why you left your previous role. It’s important to be prepared and have your answer ready. A recruiter can help you structure your answer in a manner that is honest and professional, without sounding negative.

Something to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t reach out to every recruiter you can find, as they’re often looking to fill the same roles. You’ll be getting calls for the same jobs over and over, and you’re stuck in the awkward position of turning down a role with one recruiter to accept it with another.  The legal industry is small, and those actions can damage your reputation. Always strive for open lines of communication and honesty. Keeping that in mind, you can benefit from all the knowledge, experience and time a recruiter will to commit to helping you find your dream job.

Melanie is a Recruitment and Communications Consultant with The Heller Group. She is involved in the recruitment and placement of lawyers into law firms and corporations. Melanie is also responsible for the corporate communications related to The Heller Group.

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