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Is a headhunt call in the best interests of your legal career?

4 March 2020

HEADHUNTING vs RECRUITMENT CONSULTING

I recently read an article by a competitor about what to do if a recruiter approaches you directly with an opportunity (in this case via a direct LinkedIn message).

To be fair, it was actually a pretty good read (credit where it’s due!).

They canvassed suggested responses you should give – whether you were interested, not interested or needed more time to think – and all made perfect sense.

But for lawyers, here’s the rub…the article only seemed to address what to do about one particular job opportunity – the “headhunt”.

And this is where it is useful to draw the distinction between a traditional “recruitment consultant” and a “headhunter” – because they are both very different parts of our profession.

PRIVATE PRACTICE

Whether you’re a junior lawyer or a Partner within a law firm, you probably get a million calls (or LinkedIn messages these days) from “recruiters” talking about a particular “opportunity” they’re working on and whether you might be interested.

Let’s assume you’re actually getting itchy feet at your current workplace and might indeed be open to discussing opportunities with said recruiter. Often, but not always the case, this “headhunt” call will come from a recruiter with a retained mandate to search for a particular client – i.e looking for someone (possibly you?!) that ticks all the boxes for the prospective employer.

But what if that role is with a law firm that you have no interest in? Or what if you go through all the motions of preparing a CV, interviews and references only to be told you’re not right, but thanks anyway. It could be a huge waste of time and effort on your part.

Conversely, there are traditional recruitment consultants who, more often than not, work with a multitude of different firm clients. In other words, a huge variety of potential options on their books – not just the one.

These recruiters will generally have good, strong and established relationships with a range of law firms and so can present to you opportunities that you may not have thought about. What’s more, they may be well placed to explore on your behalf (discreetly, of course!) possibilities that may not even be advertised – we’ve talked about this before in the “hidden market”.

A good legal recruitment consultant, as distinct from a “headhunter”, should take the time to understand your current career goals and aspirations and present opportunities to you either now or in the future.

IN-HOUSE

It’s slightly different when someone calls about an opportunity in-house.  The main reason for this is simply that there are much fewer positions for lawyers within corporates than there are within law firms.

No legal recruiter or headhunter can lay claim to having exclusive access to all in-house legal opportunities.

So if you do receive one of these calls, our advice is to follow our competitor’s advice: does it align with your career ambition, what are the pros and cons compared to where you are now….and perhaps also have a look at this article on whether a move in-house is right for you!

 

As legal recruiters, we spend a lot of time talking with lawyers about their careers, so this kind of conversation comes up regularly.

And if you haven’t already, make sure you take the chance to complete the 2020 Queensland Legal Salary Survey – the results that come from it should help you benchmark what your worth is in the current legal market!