In the current market, demand for legal professionals is skyrocketing…
As such, it’s common for us to hear of professionals in the sector being bombarded with calls and messages from recruiters with the offer of new opportunities. To help cut through the noise, I’ve been asked about the role that recruiters actually play in helping facilitate career moves, what the benefits are of utilising us, and how to choose a reputable recruiter. Read on for my guide to the role of recruiters in the legal profession.
What is the best way to utilise a Recruitment Consultant?
The first and most self-explanatory way to utilise an agent is when you are actively looking for a new opportunity within the market. However, the second and less obvious way to utilise an agency is as a means to help you gauge the current market in your particular specialism, even when you are not actively looking for new opportunities. Because we speak to professionals in a similar position to yourself on a daily basis, we have a wealth of market knowledge to offer, and we know exactly what each firm can offer you.
In this second instance, it isn’t a case of discussing with a view to a move at that given time, but more so you can keep yourself updated on the market in case an opportunity which ticks all of your boxes were to arise. In my view, the key to utilising a recruiter for this purpose is to find a consultant that you know you can trust, and who you know isn’t going to try and sell an opportunity to you every time you have a conversation.
The final bit of advice I would give in regard to utilising an agency is to be selective: find one or two agents that you can trust and only use those select few. If you work with too many consultants, it becomes difficult to keep control of the situation and can actually hinder your search when you are looking, as a lot of agents will use the same firms and this can cause agency disputes, which will only harm your search in the long run.
How do I choose the right consultant?
The next area I wanted to address is how to choose the right consultant for you and the key considerations you should keep in mind to find the right fit.
The first thing that you should consider when deciding on which consultant to use is what their specialism is. For example, my own specialism is Litigation professionals in the Midlands, so if you were looking for a Commercial Property position in Manchester, I wouldn’t be of much use. The consultant you choose to work with should know your market and specialism inside out and should therefore be able to provide you with valuable insights into that area.
Another good way to judge whether a consultant could be a good fit is by the accuracy of their initial contact. What I mean by this is that if you specialise in Clinical Negligence, but you receive a message about employment opportunities, this indicates this is not the right consultant for you; whilst in some circumstances it may be a genuine mistake, the majority of the time this simply indicates a lack of preparation or research. There may be some exceptions to this: for example, if you are an employment solicitor dealing with non-contentious matters and receive a message about contentious employment, it’s a little more understandable.
The final and most important factor when choosing a consultant, is to choose to work with someone that you can trust, and someone who you have a good rapport with. The best way to establish if you can trust a consultant is to ask about their process. If they can’t explain their process, the likelihood is that they have something to hide or have no set process in which they follow. As consultants, we do take your knowledge for granted at times as we assume you have dealt with agencies before, but over time I have learnt that this isn’t always the case. Rapport is equally key, as establishing open lines of communication between you and your consultant is crucial: you don’t want to be dreading your next phone call from them. From my experience, I have always had the most successful working relationships when I get on well with my candidates, as I think it further creates that desire to do all you can to achieve a positive outcome from both sides.
What are the positives of using an agency?
From my perspective, there are a number of positives to using an agency, particularly when you are looking for a new opportunity. The first positive is that when you are dealing with a specialist in your market, we can provide insight and information regarding firms that our candidates wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise. This can include simple things such as salary bandings within firms, or even what the culture of the business is like.
Another major positive is that it can streamline the entire application process, reducing the time you need to spend as we will also handle the administrative side of things on your behalf. Given the busy working lives of legal professionals, cutting down the administrative tasks such as booking interviews and corresponding with the firm often proves invaluable and minimises stress on your part.
Finally, and perhaps most crucially, is the ability we have to harness the great relationships that we share with the firms we work with. We are able to utilise our trusted partnerships with the firms that we work with to your benefit, in order to influence the process. Overall, this will result in a faster and smoother process, and also places us in an ideal position to negotiate the best possible salaries with these firms by using our knowledge and experience of what is a competitive rate in the current market.
Drawbacks of using an agency
I don’t think I would be able to provide a balanced perspective on utilising agencies without highlighting some of the drawbacks that could come along with using an agency, and to shed light on some of the times when using an agency simply wouldn’t be the best option for an individual.
One negative of using consultants is that some will oversell and under deliver. This can be particularly common when dealing with agencies who don’t specialise in specific markets, as it means their knowledge can be generic, meaning they can be prone to over-promising as not all markets are the same. Unfortunately, it isn’t always a case of being an accidental mistake, and sometimes agents will overpromise to their candidates as a ploy to get them onboard. So, if it sounds too good to be true, I will always advise questioning it. This should allow you to suss out a disreputable consultant from an honest one.
Another potential drawback could be the lack of control that you have if you are dealing with more than one or two agencies. This can lead to a confusing situation and messy overall process. As I mentioned previously, this can be remedied by working with a smaller group of consultants so you can ensure you maintain control of the search.
A particular circumstance when using an agency which may be a drawback would be when you are looking to requalify into a completely new area of law. This is because firms often wouldn’t want to pay an agency fee in these circumstances; so, if you are looking to requalify, I would recommend applying directly so that you don’t harm your chances of success.
Overall, I hope that this guide shines a light on the most effective ways to utilise consultants, both when you are actively looking to make a career move within the sector, but also when you are just trying to judge the current marketplace and benchmark your position within it. I hope that it also identifies the key benefits in using an agency whist also highlighting the drawbacks and what to remain vigilant of in order to reduce any drawbacks.
If you would like to have an informal chat, or if you have any questions about how best to utilise an agency to your advantage, please don’t hesitate to give me a call on 0117 284 1257 or alternatively send me an email on email@example.com.