Building a relationship with a recruiter is similar to building any other relationship. In that first call you might be a bit cagey but, with time, you open up and can have more open and honest conversations. But...what does being open and honest even look like?
Here are 3 things you NEED to tell your recruiter:
This is more than just "I'm on X and I want Y". Of course, everyone has necessities in their life that need to be covered (rent/mortgage/bills/well needed holidays) but you need to consider all possible scenarios. Would you join a better team for less pay? Are you looking to join a US firm for more money, but have you considered the reality of the billable hours and work/life balance? Answering questions like this will help you set realistic expectations.
It's rare that we begin working with someone at the start of their search. Often lawyers start by applying to a few roles directly, or by leveraging their friends at other firms. Regardless of what's happened in your search so far, you need to be forthcoming as early in the process as possible. I have worked with someone who had a job offer from a Partner who was leaving their current firm for another. By knowing that they had this competing offer I was able to get them a higher offer, which they then accepted. Letting your recruiter know what's going on can help them to sell you to Partners, advocate for you throughout the process, and speed up interview processes.
I think this is often a topic that lawyers don't put enough thought in to. Understanding your true motivations to leave your current firm will not only help you decide which firms you'd be interested in moving to, but will also help your recruiter best advise you. The most common motivations discussion that I have is when a lawyer wants more money. In reality, it's rarely ever just about the money. For example, are you already billing 2000 hours and want more money i.e. do you want to feel better compensated for your hard work? Take some time to review your motivations and share them with your recruiter.
Looking for a new job, going for interviews, and setting out the expectations for your career is often quite a stressful process. Moving to a new firm is a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. If you do choose to work with a recruiter try and make things as easy and stress free as possible by being transparent from day one. Cut out the unnecessary back and forth, avoid being approached about firms that just aren't a match for you, and get ahead of receiving an offer that completely undercuts your expectations.
My advice: the sooner you can be transparent with your recruiter, the sooner you'll see the benefits of working with one.
For a no-obligation call to explore your options in the current legal market, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org