When an employer needs interim talent to round out its legal team, they often turn to a staffing and recruiting agency for assistance in filling their needs as quickly as possible. This can be a new experience for an attorney diving into contract work for the first time. Having a middle man, so to speak, to help them navigate the interview and hiring process can be a blessing but can also feel a little foreign.
Working with a recruiter requires a level of trust and honesty that you may not be used to in a professional relationship. While you are adamantly told not to share information about your personal life during the early stages of the interview process, the opposite is true when engaging with a recruiter. Recruiters want to know everything because they will use your wants, needs, experiences and concerns to your benefit. To get the most out of working with a recruiter, take this advice:
- Be honest about your experience – don’t oversell or undersell. Recruiters are not looking to be impressed or sold on your abilities. They want the real, honest assessment of what you have done, what systems you know and how comfortable you are working on different projects. Inflating your experience will not land you in a desirable role that allows you to excel; and conversely, downplaying your abilities will not keep you engaged and thriving in a role either. Recruiters approach these interim assignments by gaining a thorough understanding of their client’s needs and skill set gaps. Their goal is to find the right fit for both the client and the applicant. The recruiter can’t help you, the applicant, if you’re not giving them the real story.
- Be forthcoming about potential red flags on your resume. If there are gaps on your resume, you were previously fired from a position or you have a few career-related skeletons in your closet, explain the holes, breaks and oddities upfront. Recruiters complete background checks and the truth will come out whether you want it to or not, so tell them the truth from the start. If it takes a background check for the truth to come out, that will raise more questions about your honesty and ruin any trust the recruiter has started to build with you. Also, by explaining gaps and oddities, the recruiter can advise you on how to present that information in an interview—because you will be asked. Recruiters can usually help mitigate any issues if they know about them early in the process, but if these issues rear their ugly heads at offer stage, then it’s usually too late at that point. Not only will you lose out on that position, but the recruiter likely won’t call you for future positions.
- Be vocal about expectations. The more information you share with the recruiter, the easier it will be for the recruiter to help you find the right position. If you have commuting restraints or need to work specific hours, let your recruiter know up front when discussing your job search. Some roles will be more flexible with schedules while others will expect you to be present during specific hours. If you are not willing to commute to a location that is over an hour drive one way, that’s ok; just be honest about what will and will not work for you. If a contract role is offered on a part-time basis, but you are only in the market for full-time work, recruiters want to know that. Don’t make concessions on your realistic needs simply because an opportunity is available. The goal is to find the right fit for both you and the employer.
- Tell your recruiter about other positions you have applied to and if you are interviewing for any currently. If you are actively job hunting, recruiters expect you to have other irons in the fire. It is important to keep your recruiter informed of the other roles you have applied to and where you are at in each stage of the process for each role (i.e., application stage, 1st, 2nd, 3rd round interview stage, offer, etc.). The recruiter can use this information to help the process move faster and remain within your desired timeline. If you have in fact already submitted your resume for the position the recruiter has contacted you about, tell them. It won’t look good for you to submit and then have a recruiter submit you again.
Once you begin working with a recruiter, that recruiter will counsel you on the job search process by suggesting any updates that need to be made to your resume or professional online profiles. If you are not forthcoming about your background and job search, then the recruiter cannot help you navigate your search effectively.
Remember: Honesty is the best policy. Being honest with your recruiter throughout your job search will set you up for success.