Why you should expect more from your recruiter – and how to get it

Today on the NQ blog, we discuss the reasons why some trainees are reluctant to work with recruiters, and why you should expect more from the recruiter you choose to work with.


Having spent many years as a specialist legal recruitment consultant, and many more working in private practice law firms and within the field of organisation development in both the public and private sector, I have spent much of my career consulting with and coaching professionals in relation to their careers. One recurring theme is how professionals have approached their search for a new role and the negative experiences they’ve had with legal recruiters.


Pressure on trainees

Many candidates I’ve spoken with say they’ve felt like ‘sitting ducks’ with recruiters effectively taking pot shots, pressuring them to look at roles they don’t feel are suitable, in locations they don’t want, or with brands they don’t favour. Taking the decision to look beyond the firm that you have trained with is never an easy one, but never do I hear of this particular problem more often than with trainee solicitors, who I would generally regard as being in need of the most support yet also potentially being most vulnerable.

Commentary from many trainees indicates that they’ve been left with the impression that recruiters seem more concerned about making a fee, than in understanding their career ambitions and working with them to achieve their goal… a chasm between what they expected from their chosen recruiter and the level of service and consultation they actually receive.


Pushy recruitment practices

I’ve worked with candidates who’ve experienced recruiters forwarding their CV to firms without permission, exaggerating the nature of their relationships with clients (the old “I personally know the partner” line) and making candidates feel pressured into looking at any role they recommend. If you feel that you’re being pushed into opportunities then alarm bells should be ringing.

I dealt with a trainee solicitor recently who, as a result of a CV send duplication, had been left feeling concerned about being “blacklisted” by a leading legal recruiter. As you can imagine, this was very concerning to me – candidates should feel empowered in terms of their search for a new role, not fearful of consequences if they do not behave the way a recruiter wants them to.


So what can you do?

The key is to remember that you are in control of your search for a new role, not your recruiter. If your chosen recruitment consultant is behaving in a way that you’re unsure of, or that you don’t feel comfortable with, don’t be afraid to raise it and if necessary dis-instruct them. They work for you, not the other way around. It is important that you feel empowered and that you’re in control of your search for a new role.

The relationship you have with your chosen specialist legal recruiter should be supportive, educational, advisory in its nature, and there should be a mutual respect so that you work effectively together. If your recruiter is confident that a particular role is a good fit for you, they will be able to justify their thinking and provide additional information, and they won’t need to pressure you. If you’re working with a good recruiter then you’ll feel it is a positive and valuable relationship, and their behaviour towards you should demonstrate that.

It is certainly our professional standard to ensure candidates are fully informed and supported in terms of their choices, and we take that responsibility of being someone’s trusted advisor very seriously.

My message to candidates at all levels would be to expect more of your recruiter…and if you’re not getting what you expect, do something about it!

To find out more about our legal recruitment services for NQs and trainee solicitors, visit our Candidates page. And for information about finding your first NQ role, check out our FREE NQ Resources Hub.

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