Securing your NQ legal job:
How do you choose a legal recruiter to work with?
So you’ve made the decision to dip your toe in the water and look at the NQ legal job market in more detail, with a recruitment professional by your side – but how do you choose a legal recruiter to work with?
As a trainee solicitor heading towards qualification you’ll want to choose a legal recruiter who ensures you’ve got a good handle on the process and can keep control of how applications are made on your behalf. You’ll want to ensure you engage a recruitment consultancy you feel you can trust. In essence it’s simply a matter of personal choice and gut feel as to who you go with, but certain important factors will influence your decision.
You’ll want to consider:
- How much did they listen to your and understand your goals? This is about you, and your future; and that means in the long-term. Just placing you once, now, isn’t then end of the matter. You’ll want to engage a recruiter who has your longer terms interests at heart. For example, if you think you want to move in-house at a later date, question them on how likely that is, with the choices you are thinking of making, and listen to their advice. Some areas of specialism are more easily ‘portable’ into an in-house role than others, and we’ll be focusing on that in future blogs.
- What sort of reputation do they have, or do you perceive? You can get a good feeling about them from their website, articles, the profiles of their consultants and any added value services they offer. You might have been recommended by someone. If not, take a look at the quality of the selection of clients they act for and any testimonials on their website. Be wary if there aren’t at least a good smattering of blue chip organisations in their client lists. FTSE350 companies are quite painstaking in their selection of specialist recruiters.
- What sort of public profile do they and their consultants have on LinkedIn? Do their consultants have some good recommendations on their profiles? What about their client list? How connected are they?
- What is their geographical coverage? Remember, the biggest isn’t necessarily the best for all sorts of reasons. So long as they have a significant presence in the location you are interested in, they are no less likely to be able to help you, than a recruitment company with offices in every commercial business centre in the UK, and in some case they are even better equipped to be able to place you. Be wary of recruitment companies who claim to be able to move you to London for example if they don’t have an office there. A northern based recruitment business like us shouldn’t claim to be able to place you in London, or Scotland for example. Instead, we have good relationships with recruiters and former colleagues who can cover that market for you, and we can usually refer you to them, and work with you in tandem with them.
- How interested are they in you? You should expect a good level of interest and rapport. When you have it, you just know!
In practice, there is nothing to stop you from working with more than one recruiter if you wish, since logic dictates that not everyone can cover every single hiring relationship. For example, you might want to use someone like us for the North, and one of the London based recruiters for your search down there. The market there is crowded, so it’s even more important to do your research and listen to recommendations if you are relocating.
If you do use more than one recruiter, it can cause problems if you don’t stay organised, and our NQ Solicitors Survival Guide goes into a little more detail on this point. However, suffice it to say here that the ‘golden rule’ is never to allow applications to be duplicated – ie you should always avoid the possibility that your CV is sent to the same job, department or firm by two different recruiters. Duplication never ends well, and it makes a candidate appear disorganised – which is not a good start. Additionally, be very clear with your instructions, and if you don’t feel that a recruiter is being entirely clear with you on what they are going to do, get them to explain what they mean.
If you are focused on one particular geographical area it can pay dividends to instruct one recruiter exclusively. Whilst you might initially think that having a couple of recruiters working for you might encourage a degree of healthy competition, you can very quickly get to a point at which you’re not so much “increasing your chances” as disproportionately losing control and weakening the relationship with each of your recruiter(s) who are trying to do their utmost for you. Ultimately, you should resist the temptation to circulate your details far and wide. It won’t help you. If you genuinely feel you’ve picked the best one or two recruiters for your needs, you shouldn’t need to register with any more. Just work with them and keep the faith.
So, in a nutshell:
- Take time to do your research. Don’t be in a hurry.
- Get to know a recruitment consultancy before deciding to work with them.
- Focus on their reputation, relationships, regional focus and whether you perceive that their experience can add value and insight.
Many of the junior lawyers placed by our most experienced consultants are now partners in their respective firms. As our relationships have endured, we have since hired people to work for them and have placed individuals they’ve recommended to us. At Florit Brooke, our mantra is “relationships come before revenue”. It’s a shared team ethic which underpins everything we do because we’d rather be respected for the advice and options that we can offer you in the long term than be driven by short term financial gain.