It’s always a candidate’s market if you’re a recruiter looking for top talent. To make sure you’re getting the attention of the most sought after attorneys in the industry, you’ll need to put on your best manners. Let’s take a look at a few off-putting behaviors that could be scaring off your most talented candidates:
- You treat recruiting like a cattle call. The most talented attorneys are unlikely to respond to your generic job ad. If you want to attract top talent, giving them the first crack at a position (before you make it public) is a sure way to get their attention. The best attorneys want to work with people who recognize their worth and act accordingly.
- Your job ads ask for too much. It’s only natural that law firms want to get the most out of their new hires, but some job ads come off so one-sided that they will only attract the most desperate candidates. It’s your job as a recruiter to rein in picky employers and remind them that their job ads must also demonstrate what they’re willing to offer the candidate.
- You’re ignorant about the job or law firm. Before approaching top talent about a job opportunity, be sure that you anticipate and are able to answer their questions. What is the law firm culture? What career advancement opportunities exist at the firm? Who will the new hire work for? What is the salary range? These types of questions are likely to be asked so be prepared to answer them.
- You don’t listen to the candidate. Don’t expect any job candidate, especially those that are extremely talented, to take you seriously if you don’t listen closely. As you’re recruiting top talent, take notes and take heed. If a candidate tells you they’re looking for work as a family law attorney, sending them job posts for anything else could make you look bad.
Get and keep the attention of top candidates by exhibiting your professionalism and respect for their skills.
Mentorship isn’t just about knowing the right person who can help you get promoted when you want, it’s about forming a relationship that can impact your entire career. Let’s take a look at five ways mentors can shape your career as an attorney.
- Honest feedback. The best mentors are honest. If you ask them what they think about your ideas or strategy, they can offer constructive criticism that will help you avoid costly mistakes.
- Seasoned perspective. Have you ever been in a work situation that you couldn’t quite figure out? A good mentor can help you navigate the treacherous politics of law firm life. This is especially important for younger attorneys who have little experience working in a firm.
- Insider privilege. By building a relationship with an experienced mentor, you can get a rare look into what really happens in the upper ranks of your law firm. For example, if you’re being mentored by a partner they can give you information about what it took for them to gain their position.
- Expanded network. While getting access to a mentor’s network isn’t automatic, once you get access the people you meet could change your career in ways you never imagined. Just remember, no quality mentor will hand over the keys to their network until they know for sure you’re trustworthy and won’t abuse the access you’re given.
- Strategy advisor. One of the best things any attorney can do is get a mentor to help them devise (and revise) their career strategy. A good mentor can give you insights about the legal marketplace that could help you improve your career advancement tactics.
Whether you’re a new attorney or a seasoned pro, take advantage of the benefits good mentors offer.
When it comes to paying contingency recruiters, some employers find every reason to shirk their obligations. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do as a legal recruiter to minimize fee disputes and improve your chances of collecting payment even when the employer is resistant.
- Spell out your terms. In the case of fee disputes, an ounce of prevention really is worth more than a pound of cure. Specify in your fee agreements all expectations and responsibilities. How much is your fee? When is it due? And in what circumstances will the employer be obligated to pay you a recruiter fee? Put all of it in writing and don’t rely on the employer’s good will (or good memory) to protect your interests.
- Respond firmly to fee disputes. Once an employer refuses to pay your agreed upon fee, you must immediately respond. Sending emails won’t suffice, pick up the phone and discuss the matter directly with the person who has the power to cut you a check. After having an in-person or telephone conversation with the employer, follow up with them in writing via email and postal mail. Be sure to cite the terms of the agreement they signed.
- Create a collections policy. If you don’t have a collections policy in place, stop what you’re doing now and create one. If you’re working as an independent recruiter, fee disputes and delinquent clients are inevitable and just a part of doing business. Don’t let these situations catch you by surprise. Create a collections policy then follow it.
If you want to reduce fee disputes and handle collections issues gracefully, communicate your terms clearly and systematically pursue payment from delinquent clients.
If you’re an attorney on a job hunt, then you’ve probably sent off a ton of resumes and cover letters, but did you ask the right questions before you applied to the law firm? Below are three things you should know before sending off your resume:
- Information about the partners. Understanding the values and background of a law firm’s partners is critical to understanding its culture. How long have the partners been with the law firm? If they’ve all been there a short time, this could be an indicator of high turnover. How long did it take them, on average, to become partners? If you’re goal is to become a partner, this will give you a good indication of how long you’ll need to wait.
- The law firm’s status in the industry. Is the law firm for which you’re applying held in high esteem in the legal industry? Have they handled many high-profile cases? What kind of influence do they have on others in the industry? And finally, what is their reputation amongst attorneys and clients? Remember, your status as an attorney will be impacted by the status of your firm.
- Recent cases. Before applying at a law firm, research their most recent cases. Do the cases reflect the type of work you want to do? Were they impressive successes or colossal failures? Does the law firm have a long reputation for representing certain types of clients? For example, if it’s a bankruptcy law firm, do they mostly represent consumer debtors or businesses? Being aware of the law firm’s case history serves two purposes, 1) it will help you determine if this is the type of work that interests you, and 2) it will give you something to discuss during the interview phase.
Armed with important information about the law firm at which you’re applying is advantageous to your job search.
Many independent recruiters work solo because it can be a huge challenge having a partner. But taking on a partner doesn’t have to be a negative experience, it can be productive and might even take your recruiting business to the next level, but that’s only if you can make it work for you. Let’s take a look at four hacks for working with a business partner:
- Personality fit. When it comes to working with a partner in your recruiting business, personality matters. Make sure you choose someone who complements your personality so that you can minimize conflict. But for that to happen you’ll need to be totally honest about the type of person you really are.
- Expectations. No matter how much you trust or respect a potential partner. Put expectations in writing before you go into business with them. It’s amazing just how many partnership conflicts are rooted in miscommunication. With a written list of expectations, you can clear up any misunderstandings before you’re too deeply enmeshed with the other person.
- Trial period. It’s true that you never really know a person until you’ve lived with them—in this case worked with them in business. Before diving head first into a long-term partnership, consider having a 90 day trial period. This will benefit both of you. At the end of the trial, you both have the option of walking away, no strings attached.
- Investigate. If you don’t have first-hand knowledge of your potential partner’s business experience, you’ll need to thoroughly investigate them. Look into their work history, past business dealings, and how they handle their personal finances. If most things in their business and financial life look messy, then you might won’t to be extremely cautious about doing business with them.
By cautiously vetting a potential partner before you sign an agreement, you’ll improve your chances of having a fruitful and drama free business relationship.
The strength of your future career depends on the depth of your professional network. Handing out business cards and occasionally pinging people on social media isn’t enough to create the kind of deep connections that can drastically improve your legal career. Let’s take a look at four ways you can strengthen your professional network.
- Choose your contacts wisely. You can’t be close to everyone. There are simply not enough hours in a day. That’s why it’s important to choose which connections you want to deepen. Pick only those people who can offer you something of value and with whom you have something in common.
- Listen closely. Pay close attention to what the most important people in your network are saying. What are their biggest concerns? What causes do they support? What are their needs and goals? By focusing on what the VIPs of your professional network are saying, you can get a better idea of how you can deepen your connection with them.
- Make them money. One of the easiest ways to strengthen a professional network is to send money making opportunities their way. Is one of the people in your network looking for work? Refer them to a law firm or send them job opportunities you run across. Is another looking to start a solo law practice? Share helpful articles on how to build a thriving business.
- Support their causes. Have you noticed that someone in your professional network shares your passion for a particular cause? Let them know. Send them notices about events and news related to the cause. Invite them to attend an event with you that’s related to the cause. But make sure your interest is genuine. People will notice if you’re faking it.
As you take action to deepen your professional connections, check for reciprocity. Are the people you’re reaching out to doing the same for you? If not, then focus your energy on those who do.
Social media is a powerful tool for legal recruiters, but there are a few good reasons why many successful recruiters still rely on cold calling. Let’s take a closer look at three reasons why cold calling still works:
- It’s personal. No matter how carefully you try to engage people online, picking up the phone and talking to a customer will always feel more personal. Cold calling allows you to listen to the other person’s voice, gauge their mood, and get a sense for their level of interest.
- It’s immediate. You can get detailed feedback on a cold call quickly, and that’s simply isn’t possible in most online exchanges. On a cold call you can ask questions and probe deeper into the customer’s answers. Duplicating dynamic cold conversations in an online environment is tedious and most times impossible. You simply can’t get detailed answers in tweet or Facebook post. You need the phone.
- It’s direct. While social media is an excellent way to meet people and stay connected, it’s often very difficult to connect with the real decision makers. Imagine the Twitter timeline for a busy law firm partner—he/she may receive dozens of mentions daily. This means that unless you have a personal relationship with that person, your message could get lost in the fray. Cold calling is a good way to solidify an online relationship while using social media to keep it fresh.
No matter how much you rely on social media to connect with clients, cold calling is a good way to meet new prospects and break through the online wall of noise.
Long gone are the days of sending resumes and cover letters by postal mail, but that doesn’t mean you should get slack on your level of professionalism. Below are a few rules for emailing legal recruiters and hiring managers that every job candidate should follow:
- Use a clear subject line. Don’t make the recipient of your email guess about its content. Your subject line should be as descriptive and brief as possible. For example, if you’re responding to a job ad and it asks that you include certain verbiage in the subject line, do so. The subject line verbiage request is used to make the recipient’s job easier. Remember, both hiring managers and legal recruiters receive many emails from candidates applying for a variety of jobs.
- Attach documents with care. Don’t attach excessively large documents to your email. And when you do attach documents, use formats that most people can access such as .pdf, .docx, .doc, and .txt. If possible, also include in your email a link to an online version of your resume.
- Stay professional. While you may use email primarily as a form of informal communications, remain professional when addressing hiring managers and legal recruiters. When possible, use Mr./Ms. and the recipient’s full name. You should also avoid text speak such as “lol” and “smh.” Using text speak will not leave a good impression.
- Include contact information. While your email address will be obvious to the recipient, you should also include a phone number and any social media handles you want to share. Just be sure to include only social media handles that are for your professional (not personal) accounts.
Making a good impression with hiring managers and legal recruiters begins with a professionally composed email.
Emailing prospects is one of the easiest ways to follow-up on a sales call, but it can also be one of the most spammy ways. Below are a few things legal recruiters can do to avoid being a spam artist:
- Get permission. If you’re following up via email with a prospect you cold called, get their permission first. One of the easiest ways is to get their email address and ask if it’s okay for you to email them information. Absolutely do not add anyone to your ongoing marketing list without asking for their express permission.
- Don’t send bulk emails. Try to personalize each email so that it at least includes the prospect’s name. Bulk emails read as spam, even if it’s a follow-up email.
- Don’t pester people. One follow-up email is enough. Any more than one follow-up email may be annoying. Remember, some prospects may not respond to your email because they’re simply not interested. Don’t become pushy by sending multiple follow-up messages even when the prospect has failed to respond to your first one.
- Respect boundaries. If a prospect asks you to not email them, stop immediately. It’s up to you to make sure that they are not contacted again. Create a “no-contact” list and check all mailings against it before hitting the send button.
- Use double opt-in. If you’re converting your email list from one program to another, have everyone double opt-in before contacting them. Double opt-ins ensure that the contacts you’re emailing still want to receive information, and it protects you from being labeled as a spammer.
Remember, your email list is a work in progress and it’s up to you to keep up with the latest rules governing email marketing of your recruiting business.
Law school is challenging, even the smartest students can find it difficult to keep up and thrive. But forming a study group is one of the most effective tactics you can use to leverage the mental power of your fellow students to not only survive law school, but to do extremely well. Below are a few tips on how to create a successful study group:
- Keep it small. Too many cooks in the kitchen really can ruin a good meal. Keep your study group limited to three to five people. Anything larger could become cumbersome, waste time, and leave someone getting very little benefit.
- Be selective. Law school is an environment where people are never rewarded for just showing up. This is how you should think when selecting the members of your study group. Only choose those students who have proven that they have the smarts to contribute something of value. And don’t be shy about asking people to leave if they don’t contribute.
- Get a schedule. Your study group should meet at least once a week at a set time and place. This consistency will help keep people on task and give them an opportunity to plan well in advance.
- Create an agenda. To avoid wasting your time, each study group meeting should have a set agenda. Know exactly what you’re studying and how you’re going to study it. Any materials needed should be distributed well in advance of the meeting.
- Stay on task. Designate one person to keep the study group on task at each meeting. Your meetings should have a start and end time. If you can, agenda items (or study tasks) should also have a set start and end time.
Creating a successful student group will enhance your academics experience and your social circle.