Getting the Most Out of Your Job Search Through the Candidate-Recruiter Relationship

You have heard the phrase “you get what you give.” Well, that is a truism that informs your legal career search just as much as any other endeavor. Stated otherwise, the more energy and insight you put into your next career move, the more you are likely to get out of that process. And the one thing that can genuinely supercharge the effectiveness of your job search is working with an experienced legal recruiter.

We will discuss the nature of the relationship between you as a candidate and your legal recruiter. Then, we will cover some things that you can do to make sure that you are getting the most out of the relationship with your recruiter. After all, you have spent years cultivating your legal competencies, creating a body of work experience, and building your reputation. It is well worth it to give your next career move the time and attention it deserves.

The Candidate-Recruiter Relationship

The relationship between you and your legal recruiter has incredible potential.

You bring to the table your education, skills, and necessary work experience, and your recruiter will marshal their contacts and deep industry knowledge to find an excellent fit for you in the type of organization you seek.

Be Sure Your Recruiter Gets to Know You

What is important to remember is transparency. Communicating the level of the position you are interested in (Deputy GC, Director, Counsel), geography, industry, and, if appropriate, the organization’s size are good starting points. If you do not know your next career step, then be transparent with the Legal Recruiter. We often recommend career coaches when someone may need career coaching, and candidates return to us when ready to embark on the search.

Transparency runs both ways. Professional recruiters ought to advise you on the realities of your requirements and provide feedback based on current examples in your practice area or industry. Take the time to ensure that your recruiter understands your specific goals and what opportunities would not be attractive to you.


Open communication comes as a result of having a level of trust. Your recruiter is your advocate in the legal marketplace. You should feel comfortable knowing that you can trust your recruiter to have your best interests at heart. With that trust, do not be afraid to give the recruiter a solid sense of what your career goals – and life goals – are. As we have said before, the better a recruiter knows you, the better the recruiter is informed to align your career interests with what is available in the marketplace short and long term.

To be sure, that relationship of trust works both ways. We have heard examples of recruiters sending a candidate’s resume to a prospective employer without getting the candidate’s permission. This can have severe consequences for a candidate.

That is particularly true if the candidate has already submitted a resume to that employer (legal hiring departments do not like receiving a candidate’s resume from two different sources, and it will hurt the candidate’s chances with that organization), or the candidate did not want that employer to know that he or she was in the market for a career move in the first place.

Nothing in your job search should be done on your behalf unless you consent to it. Consequently, ask the recruiter about the process for presenting your candidacy to clients. We review the procedure with candidates and ask if there are questions.

The Effective Legal Recruiter

While no recruiter can guarantee a particular placement, a seasoned legal recruiter will exponentially enhance your career opportunities and vastly improve your chances of finding a successful career move. In that vein, your legal recruiter should be able to help you with the following:

  • Determine the right strategy to get you to where you want to go in your career;
  • Review your resume and provide helpful feedback on how to make it more compelling;
  • Give you a sense of the legal marketplace, roughly how many organizations and firms are looking for someone with your background and experience;
  • Serve as a sounding board in the search process;
  • Help coordinate interviews and, more importantly, prepare you for the interview (usually with an ability to give you some helpful insight about the people with whom you will be meeting);
  • Answer your questions along the way;
  • Help negotiate your final compensation package once you get an offer. This can be exceptionally valuable. There is an article on pre-employment negotiations and the Legal Recruiter’s effectiveness as your advisor in the Lawyers Career Blog.

Being an Effective Candidate for Your Recruiter

To maximize the benefit of your candidate-recruiter relationship, there are three things that you can also do to improve value in the relationship.

First, if you have already been on the lookout for career opportunities before contacting the recruiter, ensure that you provide your recruiter with the list of employers to whom you have applied over the last year. This will inform the recruiter as to your organizations of interest and help avoid the problem of being submitted twice to the same employer.

Second, keep your recruiter updated on the status of your search.

While you may want to conduct your search solely through your recruiter, some candidates prefer to leverage their networks. In that regard, communication is key so you, again, avoid covering the same ground as your recruiter.

Third, try to get back to your recruiter with any email requests as soon as you can. If your recruiter is interacting with a potential employer on your behalf and needs to submit a writing sample or schedule interview times, then it will reflect well on you if you can give the recruiter what is required within a reasonable time. Building and maintaining momentum in the search process is mission-critical for candidates and prospective employers. You don’t want to miss opportunities or signal lack of enthusiasm to an employer.

Supercharging your career trajectory means working in tandem with a legal search professional to build interest and momentum in your candidacy. The keys to success are transparency, clarity, and trust. May you experience the benefits of working with a Legal Recruiting professional and soar in your career.