HOW WE WORK WITH JOB SEEKERS
Q: How do you work with job seekers?
A: It's a pretty involved process, but here's the condensed version: We'll interview you in depth to learn your employment and educational history, your accomplishments, reasons for prior job changes, compensation and geographic preferences, and long-term objectives. We'll check references and conduct other due diligence as necessary, and then attempt to identify job opportunities that are appropriate for you. At that point, with your permission, we'll submit your resume along with a written “pitch letter” describing your job history and attributes. If one of those prospective employers wants to meet you, we'll schedule and prepare you for it. If an offer is later extended, we'll discuss the pros and cons of it with you; communicate with the prospective employer on your behalf in accordance with your instructions; and generally serve as the intermediary between you and those offering you the position.
Q: You do all that?
Q: That's pretty impressive.
A: Yes, it is, isn't it?
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Q: Do I pay you?
A: No. You do not pay us for any of our “headhunting” services – that is, if we've interviewed you for the purposes of finding employment for you with one of our clients, and then present you to them if appropriate opportunities arise. We have a completely separate consulting division, Interview BootCamp, which provides intensive resume and interview training assistance to individuals who will not be using our placement services. You can find out more about our BootCamp program here.
Q: I've decided to move to a new opportunity, but I'm concerned that my supervising attorneys might find out. Will you help protect my confidentiality?
A: Absolutely. Almost all of the candidates with whom we work, from Partners and General Counsels to Law Firm Associates, are conducting confidential searches. We accordingly keep our candidates' identities completely confidential, and will not send their resume, nor disclose their name or any other identifiable information, without their prior permission. All resumes are also sent under confidential cover to organizations that are sophisticated enough to treat all submissions confidentially, even without a specific request to do so. Can we guarantee that your confidentially will be maintained? Unfortunately, on occasion you or we will run into careless or inconsiderate people working for prospective employers. Fortunately, the number of clueless people who will jeopardize your confidentiality are very few and far between. Almost all new endeavors involve some risk, and you have to weigh those risks and benefits for your own situation.
Q: I recently graduated from law school, and I'm excited to get started on my job search. Can you help me?
Probably not. Don't be offended, however. It has nothing to do with your particular law school, grades or personality, and everything to do with the job market. Most law firms and companies will not consider a recent law school graduate submitted by a recruiter because they believe – no matter how talented the individual is – that the training required does not justify a placement fee.
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Q: So if you can't help me get my first job, who can?
A: Most recent law school graduates get their first job through more traditional means, such as networking, answering a classified ad, or using their law school's outplacement services. Some also work as contract (temporary) attorneys through placement companies that offer such services, allowing them to build up experience and potential employment contacts.
Q: I'm an awesome lawyer with great references, but graduated from a law school which is not ranked in the Top Tier of quality law schools by the U.S. News & World Report annual survey. Can you help me?
Possibly, but it may be very difficult. Most of the top tier law firms and companies that work with legal recruiters insist that we submit only candidates from Top Tier Law Schools, and, preferably, with very good grades. We don't necessarily agree with the assumption that underlies those criteria, and have never seen any convincing empirical evidence to support it. In fact, we feel that those employers miss the opportunity of bringing in superb talent when they rigidly adhere to those restrictions, without considering the candidate based on his/her accomplishments. Nevertheless, we have to honor our clients' wishes, and if they don't want us to send resumes containing law schools or grades below their requirements, we will not do so.
Q: Are there any exceptions?
Not many, but there are a few. Let's say you went to a law school ranked below the Top 75 in the U.S. News Rankings, but graduated No. 1 or 2 in your class. You may get a fair hearing. Or let's say you're a patent attorney with a degree in practically every hard science, an accomplished prior career as a researcher for top companies, but went to a lower ranked law school because you were working full time and the one you attended offered evening classes. Your record of academic achievement and sheer perseverance will win you some points. There are also some firms and companies which place more emphasis on experience than law school academic credentials, and are therefore more likely to consider you on your individual merits.
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Q: I'm a litigation attorney and would love you to place me in a new practice area as an estate planning attorney. I learn things very quickly and am willing to take a drastic cut in salary for the opportunity to work in a new area. Can you help me?
Probably not. Just as recruiters have difficulty placing newly graduated attorneys, the same applies for attorneys wishing to change practice areas. Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean that you cannot engineer that career transition for yourself…You'd just be unlikely to do that when a recruiting fee is involved that increases the risk for the employer.
Q: Is there an advantage to using a recruiter rather than just doing a search on my own?
Many, although we're admittedly biased. For one thing, recruiters will have job orders from clients that may be appropriate for you. For another, legitimate, experienced legal recruiters bring a great deal of specialized knowledge to the table, combined with a record of credibility and trust they have established with their clients. They also have the skills to make your case, in the same way an agent will pitch an actor for a movie role.
Q: What about your fee? Won't that make an employer less likely to bring me aboard than if I were submitted to it directly?
Sometimes, but it really depends on the type of employer you're talking about. If you're interested in joining a solo practitioner or some government agencies, then a recruiter will be detrimental to your chances. Larger and savvy employers, however, are looking simply for very good additions to their team, and know that a qualified candidate submitted by a skilled recruiter is more likely to be a productive and long-term member of the work environment -- a huge bottom-line advantage that makes a recruiting fee a no-brainer. And, think about it: We operate in a free market economy. If legal recruiters didn't play an important role in the legal community, we wouldn't be around!
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WORKING WITH OTHER LEGAL RECRUITERS
Q: I'm working with another recruiter and also occasionally applying for jobs on my own. Can I work with MLP as well, or are you exclusive?
A: We are not exclusive, so you are free to work with us while you simultaneously work with other recruiters and pursue opportunities on your own. Some job seekers will prefer to work with us exclusively, of course (or at least for a limited time, such as a month), because they have confidence in us and want to see what we can do.
Q: If I decide to work with other recruiters in addition to MLP, are there any issues that you'd recommend I keep in mind?
A: Just a few. There are many good legal recruiters out there, but just as is the case with lawyers, recruiters can vary greatly in competence and ethical standards. Keep in mind that there is no uniform or correct way for recruiters to operate, and that you are always free to work with them in any manner you like. Nevertheless, since we tend to have an opinion on everything (just ask us about the Oscars, or the weather, or the stock market…), we have our own suggestions for selecting other legal recruiters.
If a recruiter volunteers, during his/her first substantive conversation or meeting with you, that your resume will never be sent out without your prior permission, you can be pretty sure that you're dealing with an ethical, experienced professional. Conversely, if a recruiter ever sends out your resume without your permission or without your blanket permission to do so, we would suggest that you terminate that recruiter's services immediately and in writing. Once again, remember that this is just our opinion, and people do get jobs from recruiters who send out resumes without their candidates' permission. That is just not a practice with which we're comfortable, however, and we won't do it.
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Q: I really like my other recruiter. She's personable and energetic, and sends me jokes on the Internet. She's given me a list of 30 different law firms and companies to which she recommends she send my resume. Should I do it?
A: As is the case with anything else, it's up to you. Our opinion, however, is that this type of approach is not generally helpful, and can even be counterproductive. Think about it: At this stage in your career, you have a particular set of experience, practice skills and other credentials. Even in booming times and in a huge legal market such as Los Angeles or any other large city, there is not likely to be more than six or seven open jobs, tops, for someone with your qualifications.
When one talks to hiring law firm partners, in-house counsel or internal legal recruiters, moreover, the one most frequent complaint that will be heard is being sent resumes for positions they don't have. So it's likely that your resume will be placed in the circular file and your name entered in a database as someone who's been rejected, even if for a reason that has nothing to do with your qualifications.
In addition, if you, like almost all job seekers, are conducting a confidential search, it's essential that you maintain control over your search. The less control you maintain over the process, and the more places you allow your resume to be sent, the greater the chance that word will get back to your employer or colleagues.
SUBMITING YOUR OWN RESUME
Q: I've conducted research and compiled a large list of law firms and companies that could utilize my skill and experience. I'm thinking of sending out a mass mailing to all of them to see if anyone will get back to me. What do you think?
A: We don't recommend that approach for the same reasons we advise against your allowing recruiters to do that very same thing on your behalf. (See the Q & A above) It's true that you may receive a call from someone who's interested in your resume, and if that happens, great. On the other hand, a resume is like currency, and the more you just put it out there in the market without paying attention to where it's supposed to go, the more likely it is to lose value. You're also sure to tick off a lot of people who will not hesitate to throw your resume off their desks or email in-boxes.
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Q: Are there any occasions in which a mass mailing of my resume would be appropriate?
A: Sure. If you're not currently employed, the confidentiality of your job search is not an issue, and you've tried everything else, that approach may work for you.
Q: I've spotted some ads in the newspaper and on some online job boards for positions that seem perfect for me. The ads appear to have been placed by the employers themselves, but are anonymous and instruct applicants to submit their resumes to a post office box or an unidentifiable email address. Should I do it?
A: Again, it's up to you, but we would advise against it. First of all, you have no idea whether one of the ads has been posted by your current employer – perhaps with some of the details changed a bit so you don't recognize it as your current firm and company…So, you may end up sending your resume to your very own employer
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Q: What is the preferred format for preparing a resume?
A: There is no one appropriate format for a resume. In fact, if you talk to twenty different recruiters, you may get twenty different answers. All of them may be right. You just need to choose the one that's best for you.
Q: That makes sense, but it also seems like you're trying to weasel out of the question. Are there any general guidelines you can provide?
A: Sure. A resume should be as concise as possible, and written clearly enough that a person who has no familiarity with the law will be able to immediately understand your experience. You should also have the sections in which you describe your education and experience clearly demarcated. Some people prefer to describe their experience with short, full-sentence narratives, while others opt to describe their prior work and accomplishments with bullet points. Either one will work. It's really just a matter of style.
Q: What about resume length…I've been told that a resume should never be more than a page. Is that true?
A: This, again, is one of those issues on which reasonable recruiters differ. Our view is that if you've been working for some time – say you're a ten-year lawyer with a host of relevant experience, published articles and record of community involvement to boast about – you can and probably should exceed one page. If, on the other hand, you're a two-year lawyer, you should be able to say everything you need to say in one page.
Q: Will you help me with my resume?
A: Yes. If we get to the point of submitting your resume somewhere (with your permission, of course), we'll take a closer look at your resume and give you some suggestions on clarity, completeness, format and other matters. We also provide this service in more depth and with a greater emphasis on revision to candidates who have signed up for our Interview BootCamp, but are not seeking our headhunting services.
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JOB INTERVIEW TIPS
Q: If an employer to whom you've submitted my resume wants to interview me, will you help me prepare?
A: Absolutely. We'll talk with you about general principles that are helpful to keep in mind, and give you specific suggestions tailored to your situation and the job for which you'll be interviewing. Those who sign on for our Interview BootCamp get a much more much detailed course in preparing for a job interview. The program covers answering interview questions (including answers to the tough interview questions!), good interviewing questions for a candidate to ask, and other successful job interview tips and techniques. To find out more about it, just click the Interview BootCamp link. Many of our interview coaching secrets are also now out in book form in THE UNDERGROUND GUIDE TO JOB INTERVIEWING: A Quick and Irreverent Primer for the Working Professional, now an Amazon.com Best Seller in the Job Hunting category.
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Q: What are some of the mistakes I should try to avoid in my job search?
A: Here are a few that come to mind. We'll be happy to elaborate on them, and provide other pitfalls to avoid, in the event you meet with us:
- You apply to blind ads while looking for a new job, and end up sending a resume to your own employer.
- You decide to do a mass mailing of your resume to numerous firms or companies, regardless of whether they have open jobs or not.
- You tell your current employer that you want to look for a new job because you “want to be honest with them.”
- You decide to leave your job without having accepted an offer for another one.
- You use various recruiters, but don't insist that they specifically ask you for specific permission before sending your resume.
- You don't keep track of where your resumes have been sent, increasing the likelihood that you or someone else will send your resume to a place that has already received it.
- You apply for jobs for which you're completely unqualified.
- You arrive late for your interview.
- During your interview, you ask how long the hours are, and inquire whether you can work remotely from home.
- You try to fake experience and knowledge you don't have.
- You don't utilize the services of Moster Legal Placement.
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