Five Tips for Working with Legal Recruiters aka Headhunters

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on September 13, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ever thought about working with headhunters? And, no, unfortunately we don't mean Herbie Hancock's jazz masterpiece, we mean legal recruiters. Most often used by experienced lateral attorneys making the hop, skip and jump from one firm to a better one, or from BigLaw to in-house life, recruiters can also help newer attorneys, or attorneys out of the market for some time.

Though working with a headhunter won't guarantee you a job, if you keep five things in mind, it may make the whole job hunt experience less painful for you.

Like any good stock portfolio, you should diversify your job search. While a headhunter can be a great asset to you in finding a job, your legal recruiter should not be the only one looking for a job for you -- you should as well. Don't stop your own search or networking with friends and colleagues just because you are working with a headhunter. Think of her as a member of your job hunt team, not as a solo player.

2. Choose the Right Headhunter

You need to feel comfortable working with your headhunter so choose someone you like. Look at their track record, and ask them if they are a JD or practiced law. In the legal field, it really helps if your recruiter was a lawyer at some point in their career.

3. They Don't Work for You

One thing should be clear from the beginning -- headhunters don't work for you, they work for the firms or companies they are trying to staff. You don't pay the finder's fee the company or firm does. Since most headhunters work on a contingency basis, any recruiter can submit a resume to a firm so you don't need to work with more than one recruiter to have a wider reach.

4. Be Honest

Speaking to your recruiter is not quite the same as speaking to a prospective employer. It helps if you are completely honest with the recruiter about your likes and dislikes so they can match you with a firm or company that most closely meets your needs.

5. Be Willing to Try New Things

Sometimes we have a very particular niche firm, company or practice area that we want to work in. However, in a down economy sometimes we just have to be willing to try something new. You don't know how many, and when the next opportunity will arise so be willing to try a new practice area, or work for a firm you didn't consider before, but your recruiter thinks may be a good fit for you. It doesn't hurt to go on an extra interview, just think of it as practice.

Headhunters may have a bad rap, but the truth is, they help a lot of people find new jobs. While it helps to already have a job, if you are unemployed and stalled in your solo job search, consider enlisting the help of a legal recruiter. Whether they get you a job or not, they will give you tremendous insight into the legal job hunt.

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