I’ve just returned from maternity leave into what feels like a rushing river—there are an almost unprecedented number of open roles, and the hiring process is moving faster than ever before. Some days, there are mere hours between the submission of an application and an interview request, and I’ve had several candidates walk out of first round interviews with offers in hand since beginning of the new year. There are a few reasons: (1) partner profits are rising even after the move to higher associate salaries; (2) the economy on the whole is generally robust, so law firm clients are spending; and (3) annual budgets have reset leading firms to feel flush. So how do you navigate this bustling market?
Firms seem to feel that there isn’t enough talent to go around, hence the day-of offers. But of course there is! (That’s where you come in!)
Here are my tips for managing this fast-moving market:
Find a recruiter you trust. This is my first bit of foundational advice in any market. When things are slow, you need a recruiter to open doors for you. When things are fast, you need a recruiter to stay on top of things for you because, well, you already have one full-time job and right now tracking the market would become a second.
Do not dilly dally. In this market, there really isn’t time to “think things over” very long before submitting an application. This is another major place where a recruiter fills an important role: a good recruiter, your recruiter, knows you and these firms. You can trust him or her to tell you which opportunities are up your alley and which aren’t. You're right to be skeptical of a recruiter who seems to be using a one size fits all approach. Working with a reputable recruiter means that it’s almost risk-less to apply. She or he will be going to the correct contact person (not some random partner) and your name will be kept confidential. There’s very little to lose in applying— better that than missing an opportunity because you hesitated. Our clients are seeing a flood of resumes when they open roles so be aware that they will stop accepting them quite quickly after releasing the role simply because they’ve reached critical mass. Don’t be on the wrong side of that divide.
Study up. Just because things are moving quickly doesn’t mean now is the time to forego the essentials. Your recruiter will send you comprehensive preparatory materials in advance of your interview. All you’ll need to do is click through and read. Interviews may be coming at you quickly; trust your recruiter to synthesize the most salient information for you into something easily digestible.
Strike now. Just because you receive an offer and accept a job doesn’t mean you need to start tomorrow. So don’t miss out on the right job just because you’re not totally ready to jump today. The market is buoyant, but the current pace is unlikely to be sustained. If the role you want is on offer now, apply, interview, assess. A lot of the most universally desirable roles (on teams with little to no attrition) in the Bay Area are open right now—but not for long.
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Kate Reder Sheikh is a Managing Director in our Associate Practice Group. She covers San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Her focus is on providing a concierge level of service to associates and clients alike. Leveraging her background as a litigator in San Francisco, Kate has unparalleled access to roles and firms in the Northern California market.