As a specialist legal recruiter, we are occasionally asked about our approach to headhunting. This is a well-known recruitment tool but we think that the cons outweigh the pros. Here’s why…

Let’s be honest, ask any group of people about their experiences with recruitment agencies and you’re likely to get some mixed responses. This isn’t surprising when you hear tales of candidates being put forward for unsuitable positions or pestered with phone calls by over-zealous agents.

That’s not our style here at Legal Southwest. We work hard to attract the best candidates without the need for ‘dark arts’ tactics.

Getting to know what our candidates are looking for and building good relationships with our law firm clients across the region are two crucial aspects of our business.

This is why headhunting is a ‘no’ for us.

That’s not to say that the practice doesn’t have its uses. It’s often considered a perfectly valid recruitment tool, particularly when looking to fill senior positions. But we believe that the cons outweigh the pros, which is why we focus on alternative methods to match the right candidates with the right firms and roles.

What is headhunting?

Headhunting is the practice of directly approaching people employed elsewhere to fill vacancies.

There are two different elements to this:

  1. When recruitment agencies have a lot of advertised vacancies and make speculative calls in an attempt to fill these. They may have found these people by searching platforms such as LinkedIn or by looking through organisations’ websites.
  2. When clients are seeking particular talent or want to approach a specific person, and ask their recruitment agency to do this for them.

We don’t do either of these things.

As far as we’re concerned, they both feed into all those negative perceptions about recruitment agencies being pushy, intrusive and poaching staff!

In the first instance, this puts people in an awkward position as they are generally fielding these calls in their current place of work. It’s a bit of a ‘spray and pray’ approach, whereas we prefer to be much more targeted. We often hear from candidates how being headhunted has backfired, as the job has been mis-sold and isn’t actually the right fit.

Secondly, while we have had firms ask us to headhunt on their behalf, we know that the majority of our clients do not want us to approach their employees like this.

We’ve worked hard to build a strong reputation over the last 15 years, which includes being trusted by law firms across the region. That’s why we respect that boundary and don’t offer a headhunting service.

What do we do instead? Our legal recruitment process…

At Legal Southwest, we have a strong track record in matching clients and candidates. That’s because we take the time to find out what both are looking for and carefully consider who we put forward for roles.

Proactive marketing to attract candidates

A significant portion of our marketing is designed to bring candidates to us – people who are actively searching for a new position and who want to work with a specialist legal recruiter.

We offer referral rewards and invest in our website to keep this up to date with a range of current job vacancies, making sure this is visible through online advertising. LinkedIn is also a great tool for us and we share information that we hope is of use to people and that shows how we work so that, again, those interested in finding a new role come directly to us.

Dealing with candidates fairly

We know that our candidates are placing a level of trust in us when they register and we take this seriously. Confidentiality is an important part of this. If we need to make contact, this is always done discreetly; definitely no intrusive calls while you’re at your desk!

We also always make sure candidates are happy to be put forward for a position, as nobody wants to waste time with unsuitable applications. We want both our client and our candidate to be happy.

A targeted approach

We invest time in getting to know our candidates: why they are looking for a new position, what’s important to them in a firm, their long-term career goals.

Our experience of the legal sector here in the South West means we can advise about the culture and teams at law firms across the region.

This helps us to match candidates with the most suitable firms and roles for a long-term fit.

Good relationships with law firms in the South West

As a specialist legal recruiter, we’ve built up a reputation for an excellent quality of service over the years. This means that law firms come back to us for their recruitment needs time and again.

We don’t take this lightly. There is a fine line to tread as a legal recruitment agency and we respect this: whether we are actively recruiting for a client or helping a candidate to find a new role, our recruitment practices reflect our sense of responsibility for both.

Legal recruitment the right way

The legal sector in the South West is a small world, so it’s been important for us to think about how we want to operate. After all, we are personally invested in our reputation as a local business.

Having been doing this for 15 years now, we have hundreds of successful placements behind us.

This is because we’re looking at the long term – both for our clients and candidates, as well as considering the sort of legal recruitment agency we want to be.

While headhunting may be a ‘no’ for us, bringing together talented legal professionals with like-minded law firms is a definite ‘yes’!

Legal Southwest is a specialist legal recruiter, bringing together talented professionals with like-minded organisations. Take a look at our current vacancies or contact us to find out how we can help you.