Exploring new opportunities can be a daunting proposition, especially when faced with the unending task of sifting through a sea of online job postings that all seem to be perfect fits and completely out of your league at the same time. It can be overwhelming, challenging and intense, but having the expert guidance of a legal recruiter can make that search feel more manageable and help you set expectations for the road ahead.
Know Thy Yourself
While a recruiter can provide you with some of the tools to make your job search smoother, ultimately, you are the master of your own destiny. So before you begin your job search, make sure you know what you are looking for and what you want out of a new role. Consider these things:
- Why are you looking for a new role?Are there challenges you would like to take on or new areas you would like to explore? Understanding your motivation for a move will help you and your recruiter hone in on the roles that are most appropriate for you and save you from just applying to anything and everything.
- Who are you as a candidate? What are your strengths? Where do you have room for improvement? What type of environment would you work best in? Being able to talk about yourself in both positive and negative ways shows you have self-awareness and emotional intelligence (EQ) and will help you come across as a more well-rounded candidate.
- What are your non-negotiables? Are you willing to relocate? What is a realistic compensation range that fits your lifestyle and needs? Being upfront about these issues will save time both on the front end of your job search and on the back end when trying to close an offer. Also sharing this information with your recruiter will help them identify jobs that are right for you.
A Guide, Not a Guarantee
Approaching a legal recruiter for advice is a perfectly acceptable next step for your job search. By building that relationship, you will position yourself for opportunities in the market that are appropriate for your experience level and skill set. A recruiter has a deep understanding of what employers expect of candidates, and if the recruiter is leading the search for a particular role, then she or he will have added insight into what the ideal candidate looks like. It’s important to understand, however, that while a recruiter can be a valuable resource and guide, this search is yours to own and lead. With that in mind, you can maximize your relationship with a recruiter by:
- Understanding—and trusting—the process. When you work with a recruiter, there is a specific process that is followed. It is one that is much more in-depth and substantive than simply submitting your resume to a job on your own. For starters, recruiters are retained by a company to fill a specific role and are given requirements that they must fulfill. At times, you will not be the ideal fit for the role for which they are sourcing; do not let that discourage you. Your recruiter has your best interest at heart and will present you for roles that are on point for you given your background and experience.
- Dedicating your time. When opportunities are identified that are appropriate for you, you will need to commit your time and energy to take the necessary steps to present yourself as the best candidate. Recruiters require multiple meetings before introducing you to a client. This may include completing additional writing requirements or in-person meetings. Dedicate yourself to learning more about your potential employer, and if you were the chosen candidate, how your role could fit into the bigger picture. Recruiters will help guide you through the process and give you some of the tools for success; how you use them is up to you.
- Communicating openly and honestly. If you have limitations or restrictions regarding your job requirements or blemishes in your career history, let your recruiter know this upfront. Tell your recruiter about your current employment situation and family issues that limit your geographical options, including children’s schooling, caring for parents or other loved ones, or your own supplemental education. Honesty is the best policy and will help your recruiter understand who you are, where you have been and what you would like to accomplish in your job search. Let any recruiter you are working with know if you are working with other recruiters or submitting resumes for other opportunities, and more importantly, if you are in advanced stages with another opportunity or expecting an offer. Knowing all of this can only help move the process along and keep it on the right track. Your honesty and transparency with your recruiter will reflect well on you and your candidacy both in the eyes of the recruiter and a potential employer.
- Being patient. A job search will take time. There are often a few weeks between each step—which may include extensive periods of silence. Your recruiter will keep you abreast of any information she has as it becomes available. Please do not think you will be more effective going directly to the client since this will undercut your relationship with your recruiter and damage your candidacy. The client expects the recruiter to be managing all candidate relations.
A job search is no small task and at times will feel like your full-time job. A legal recruiter can help you navigate the process and prepare you to shine as the best version of yourself. The keys to a successful job search are to be an effective communicator, be yourself and trust the process. In the end, you will be happier with the role you land when you have had the guidance of an expert.
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Stacey Alton is a Managing Director with our In-House Practice Group in New York City. She is a seasoned executive legal recruiter who specializes in placing highly talented general counsel, senior attorneys and compliance officers with corporate clients across a variety of industries including: manufacturing, consumer products, healthcare, pharmaceutical, media and advertising, technology, real estate and financial services.
Joanna E. Herman is a Managing Director with our In-House Practice Group, brings significant contacts and experience in the Southern California legal market to her practice, helping build and strengthen in-house legal departments. She works with clients both locally in Southern California and nationally, specifically in the pharmaceutical, biotech, consumer products, technology, transportation and aerospace industries, and has also conducted searches in the fashion, financial services and retail industries.