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Insider’s Guide to Career Connectors

By Karen MacKay

In last week’s post, Insider’s Guide to Career Helpers, Karen MacKay explained the different types of  career professionals who work with you to focus your efforts to find a new job or upgrade your career: outplacement providers, career counselors and executive coaches. Today she completes the picture with information about those who can actually connect you with potential employers.

Your career is your responsibility. But there are professionals who can put you in touch with opportunities. Some seek you out. You go looking for others. Here’s the scoop on who does what, and how they get paid. (It’s important to know!)

  • Legal Recruiters work on contingency. They get paid by your new employer if they present you as a candidate and you get hired. Recruiters are often lawyers who themselves were disenchanted with the practice of law. They advertise opportunities, interview constantly and if they believe you are a good candidate they will actually market you. This means they will do an interview note (or marketing letter) and present you to as many firms as possible. Beware, however, that you may not get to see the marketing letter, and if it isn’t realistic you can be set up to fail. Also beware that ethically, recruiters cannot present your resume without your permission—so make sure they ask you first. It is your responsibility to keep track of which firms have received your resume and from whom—you or from a recruiter. Like everything, there is a wide range of styles among recruiters. Some take an interest in your career and won’t push you into something that won’t work for you. For others, it is just a sales proposition and you are the product. Well-networked recruiters can present you to employers you might not be able to reach yourself. Recruiters with good relationships can get a potential employer to look at your resume by leveraging their past success with that firm.
  • Legal Search Consultants are often lawyers who work on retainer for a select client base in their area. They have an ongoing relationship with their clients, they have taken the time to understand the firm’s practice groups, growth strategies and culture. When the firm has specific needs, these search consultants will “headhunt.” They will work the phones and target specific individuals based on their knowledge of the market, their network, your bio and reputation. To get their attention, your online firm bio should be constantly updated as should your profile on social networking sites such as LinkedIn. Legal search consultants are focused on legal clients—firms or legal departments—and focused on finding the right lawyers to meet their clients needs. Round pegs, round holes.
  • Executive Search Consultants are business professionals who provide search services at the executive level in an array of organizations, not just law-related. They often specialize in an industry where they once worked, such as financial services or health care. Executive Search Consultants are the business developers who have the relationship with their client firms and companies. The headhunters in these consultancies are called “researchers.” Researchers investigate the market through Web-mining and working the phones to pull together a long list of potential candidates with the right industry, role and educational experience to fit the profile. They do the initial telephone screening and provide the business developer with a short list. If you are smart you will be very nice to every researcher who ever calls you. They might not be calling about a job that interests you, but if you can give them a name or two you will be their friend and they will call you again. So don’t blow them off—you never know when you might need them.

Karen MacKay is Founder of Phoenix Legal Inc. and Cofounder of LawFirmKPI, Inc. She consults to law firms on a wide range of issues from strategy to planning through to the unique needs of leaders, practice groups and the challenges before them.

Illustration ©

Categories: Daily Dispatch, Legal Career Development
Originally published April 14, 2011
Last updated June 22, 2013
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