By Jean M. H. Fergus
Monday, November 19, 1990

Recruiters are hard-working professionals. The following guidelines are intended to help attorneys understand how recruiters work, what is expected of an interested attorney and how to keep the relationship between the attorney and the recruiter running smoothly.

Keep all information learned from a recruiter confidential. A recruiter's business is information. If a recruiter tells a candidate that a firm is looking for a specific type of attorney, that information is confidential and proprietary, as is other information that a recruiter has developed in the course of doing business. The attorney shouldn't contact a recruiting company's client directly or ask another recruiting company to do this. Confidential information should not be discussed with friends or other recruiting companies.

Understand that once a referral has been authorized, it cannot be rescinded. A recruiter will ask for authorization before referring an attorney's background information to an employer. Once the attorney has given this authorization, the recruiter will make that referral, and a contractual right, which cannot be circumvented, is established between the employer and the recruiting company.

Describe history fully and accurately. The recruiter should be made aware of all relevant background information. If the candidate has not passed the bar or if the candidate has been dismissed, the recruiter should be told. The recruiter can help the candidate handle this negative information in an interview.

Take time to evaluate career goals and skills. A recruiter cannot advise candidates on the appropriate career path if the candidates themselves do not know which direction to take. Time taken to consider such questions early in the search process will pay off in the long run.

Be flexible and open to other career options. The "perfect" opportunity may not exist. It may make sense to consider a wider range of options in order to advance a career more quickly in the right direction.

Keep the recruiter in the picture. The recruiter must be informed of any change in a candidate's practice skills or career goals. All interviews that the attorney attends should be disclosed, unless these interviews are arranged through another recruiting company.

Avoid window shopping. Collecting unwanted offers is like crying wolf. When the attorney really does want to make a move, he or she will have lost credibility with the recruiter. Firms that made offers previously will be unlikely to reactivate them.

Don't bad-mouth one recruiter to another. Negative comments tend to reflect poorly on the person making them. If a candidate has had a disappointing experience with a recruiter, it may be because he or she has misunderstood the recruitment process.

Don't ask for a gratuity or "kickback." Established recruiting companies do not pay for information. Marginal businesses that do not have reliable business sources may feel pressure to do this; they should be avoided. In many states, it is illegal for a recruiting company to "kick back" part of its fee to a candidate it has placed.

Keep accurate records when dealing with more than one recruiter. If a candidate has asked more than one recruiter to keep him or her apprised of the "market," the candidate should keep accurate records of all opportunities presented. This will prevent conflicts and duplicate referrals.

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