We don’t want to keep secrets from the people we work with, so we’ve written this article to explain why it’s generally recommended to collaborate with just one trusted recruiter at a time. The reasons may surprise you.
Search Firm Agreements
In order to answer this question, let’s first introduce a key aspect of legal recruitment: the Search Firm Agreement.
In order to submit a candidate’s resume to a law firm, a search firm must first sign a Search Firm Agreement. This is an agreement between the search firm and the law firm outlining the terms and conditions of working with and submitting candidates to a firm.
The aspect of this that is most relevant to our discussion is that no matter how many times a candidate is submitted, it is the search firm that submitted the candidate first that gets the credit and financial compensation if that attorney accepts an offer. After that first submission, there is usually a specified time period (typically 6 or 12 months) where the original search firm would take credit for a successful placement.
Search Firm Agreements, and you
Why is this relevant to you? You’re not the one who’s signed the agreement, surely it makes no difference to your candidacy?
The most common result of working with more than one search firm is that you may be submitted more than once to the same firms. After all, while legal recruiters often have particularly good relationships with a handful of firms, and regularly have exclusive access to particular openings, the legal recruitment market is not that big. Most of us work with a similar selection of firms, contacts and vacancies.
The aforementioned clause means there is no benefit to more than one search firm submitting your resume to the same firm. If your application wasn’t successful with one search firm, you’re not going to be more successful with another. If a new role comes up, that law firm already has your resume on record, and another search firm isn’t going to improve your chances of being considered for it.
What is more, recruitment staff within law firms can become frustrated with a recruiter if they submit a candidate who they have already reviewed and rejected. It can give them the impression that the recruiter hasn’t done their due diligence and is wasting their time, damaging the relationship between the law firm and the search firm.
Why does that matter to you? Well, one of the biggest advantages a search firm can give you is their access to unique, unadvertised, and exciting roles, as well as positive relationships with particular recruiters or partners at those law firms that might enable you to be considered even if no position is currently advertised.
Having that connection with a law firm is a privilege for search firms and an asset for you, but it is also rooted in their reputation for professionalism. If they get a name for appearing to poach other recruiters’ candidates or for submitting candidates that have already been considered, it can mean they are considered less trustworthy, or even tacitly or formally avoided. It affects their ability to support you and other candidates: without those connections, their ability to serve you to the best of their ability may be compromised.
But the main reason to rethink working with multiple recruiters is the harm it can do to your professional reputation in both the short and long term. Law firms are often distrustful of candidates who are using multiple recruiters. It can be seen as a red flag: rightly or wrongly, they suspect desperation, an inability to build your own professional relationships, or simply an opportunism that they don’t like to see.
Working with one trusted recruiter can be a real asset to your future career, but working with several can present the wrong image. Law firm recruiters have uncannily good memories: they’ll often look favourably on a previously unsuccessful candidate when they come across their desk a few years down the line, but multiple submissions by different search firms can prohibit you from being considered for future opportunities.
We regularly work with attorneys who are looking for a change in recruiter. Sometimes they believe our approach will suit them better; sometimes they simply want a fresh perspective on their job hunt. Here’s what we believe is important when making that switch:
- Be open about the fact that you have previously worked with another recruiter, or are currently working with one. Search firms are realistic: we know we weren’t the first to contact you, and we know we won’t be the last! Being clear on these relationships will enable that recruiter to work out the best strategy for finding your next career step.
- Be detailed when you tell them which firms you’ve been submitted to in the past. This helps us to avoid the key issue of double submissions: it protects your professional reputation for future applications and it preserves our positive relationships with client firms, allowing us to give you the best service possible.
- Be candid about what you’re looking for in a legal recruiter, particularly if you’ve been unhappy with previous experiences. Our goal is to meet your needs and support you in the way you’d like to be supported, because our success depends on your satisfaction.
Having a positive relationship with a trusted recruiter can be a major asset in your career. We have helped attorneys move multiple times, and each new role has propelled them up the sometimes convoluted ladder to success. Not only can a search firm help should you ever wish to move roles in the future, but they can offer you exclusive information on new exciting opportunities that you may not know about without them.
There are, of course, exceptions to this. For instance, at Leffler Search, we specialise in law firm recruitment; whilst we do work on in-house opportunities, these aren’t our primary focus. Consequently, we regularly work across from in-house recruiters, whose world is unlikely to impact upon ours, and we celebrate candidates who achieve success in the in-house market. In fact, in-house recruiters tend to work more closely with specific companies, so it is more common for an attorney to work with multiple in-house recruiters than in private practice.
In addition, it may be that another search firm has exclusive access to an opportunity that has yet to be shared more widely. If this is the case, we recommend talking to your primary recruiter before allowing that search firm to submit you. They can discuss the best strategy for optimising your success and ensure that no wires get crossed.
Ultimately, we recommend working with one trusted recruiter.
Working with one search firm means one person or team overseeing all of your processes. It makes your life simpler and it makes their ability to help you stronger. You can always change if you’re dissatisfied, but it’s worth trying one recruiter at a time and being transparent when you feel it’s time to make a switch.
If you have any questions on this topic, or would be keen to share your experience, we would love to hear from you. Contact us through our website, send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call on +1 917 768 9941 / +44 7515 166 071.