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As a senior member of a busy corporate practice in a top-tier law firm, we are always looking to attract the best talent for our team. Our recruitment strategy involves a mix of reviewing direct applications, soliciting informal referrals from informal networks, and approaching recruitment agencies.

While no single method is perfect, our experience of using external recruitment agencies has left a lot to be desired.

Having interviewed a cross-section of candidates identified by different recruitment agencies for varied roles at multiple levels, my sense is that candidates are not truly curated by head hunters before being forwarded to firms (of course there are some exceptions to the rule).

This sometimes results in a job description - candidate mismatch, which has sub-optimal consequences for the employer and the job seeker. We have often interviewed candidates who are clearly not suitable for the proposed role due factors associated with either the job seeker’s prior experience or the job seeker’s expectations out of a new role. Whatever may be the reasons, ultimately both stakeholders invest time and effort and neither of them get the desired outcome.

My sense is that currently most recruiters’ main value add is outreach to candidates and collection of cvs. At least at the junior and mid-level roles, there is very little qualitative value addition by head hunters – whether in terms of collaborating with employers to improve job descriptions, communication, etc. or in terms of consulting and coaching job seekers.


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