Without question, the most famous recruiter ad on record is that timeless classic depicting a stern and strangely muscular, though avuncular, old man with a starry top hat, frosty pointed beard, and fiercely pointed finger aiming right at you. It quickly becomes apparent, the gesture so intensely commanding, that his message would be painfully clear even had the copywriter chosen to omit the caption: I want you.

How to tell if a Recruiting Firm Stands behind its Message

He is, of course, my distinguished relative and yours, Uncle Sam. And he is one recruiter, it can be said, who unequivocally stands behind his message.

True, the legal profession is not the military, though they do have their similarities. Like the military, the law profession has come to depend on recruiters to help fill needed positions and otherwise bridge the gap between born soldiers-I mean, attorneys-and their prospective employers. Recruiter ads are everywhere these days: in magazines, newspapers, and journals; on websites, job boards, message boards, snow boards, and stuffed under your windshield wipers. Who are all these legal recruiters? Are the jobs they are advertising real? Are they worth your time? How can you tell from the ad if it is good or bad?

It's a legal recruiter's job to represent the needs of a legal-job candidate as well as those of a legal employer, all without tipping the scales too far in either direction. Therefore, when a recruiting firm advertises its services, it is reaching out not only to possible job candidates, but also to promote the business of recruiting to legal employers, and to the greater legal community, as a beneficial and necessary industry.

If you are reading this, chances are you will come across at least one more legal-recruiting ad before the day is over, if not dozens of them. Legal recruiters want you, make no mistake about it. They need you. But they can promise a lot to get you to sign up-promises they can't always deliver on.

So how can you tell if a recruiting firm actually stands behind its message or if it's just whistlin' Dixie? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Appealing to Candidates

The primary goal of any recruiter ad is to attract candidates. This much is obvious, but the differences between various recruiting firms, how they are run as businesses, and their motives for attracting candidates are not always as easy to see.

No doubt, you have come across recruiter advertisements in the past, especially on job-posting boards, where the validity of the ad or job listing is questionable at best. Words like "generic," "misleading," or "blatantly fake" come to mind when describing them. Is that opening posted by XYZ LEGAL RECRUITERS for a maritime law attorney in Nebraska for real, or is the ad just trying to reel you in on the promise of some unknown, intangible, and/or future opportunity?

The strategy behind these ads-a recruiting strategy that BCG Attorney Search does not practice or condone-is simply to use these job "stand-ins" to attract as many candidates as possible in the hope that the recruiting firm may be able to provide the candidate with real and actual opportunities in the future.

Every BCG Attorney Search job posting and advertisement that you will come across is real. That is, every attorney position that we advertise is, in fact, currently available, and the law firm looking to fill the position has contacted us and asked for our help in staffing it. Take a moment to read through a BCG job posting, and you'll see how carefully it has been prepared. For each law firm position we currently have available, we take the time to include specific, detailed information about the firm and about the position. These are not generic or blanket advertisements, but real listings for real positions. For reasons of confidentially, we cannot disclose the name of the hiring firm, but we can assure you that the firm is searching for an attorney and that BCG will provide it with candidates to evaluate for the position, should the right candidates contact us.

Many recruiting firms advertise simply to attract candidates. At BCG Attorney Search, we advertise to attract candidates for specific positions that are currently available. Whereas other recruiting firms are only able to consider candidates for a limited number of positions-often just one or two legitimate attorney positions at any given time-BCG candidates are considered internally for all of the available positions we have that fit their qualifications. And at BCG, we receive more job opportunities from law firms than any other recruiting firm in the country.

Does BCG advertise heavily? Yes. But it is because we are one of the largest and most successful recruiting firms in the country, if not the largest and most successful, and we simply have more real opportunities to share with the legal community.

Every candidate who responds to a BCG advertisement and registers on our website is considered for the positions we have available. That's the core of our business and the very first thing we do every day. New candidates are evaluated against our current positions and are contacted immediately with our assessment.

Our ability to quickly respond to a candidate's application is an invaluable service to the legal candidate. If a candidate were to contact a law firm on his/her own, most likely, a response to his/her query would take weeks or months for him/her to receive, and in many cases, the law firm would simply not respond at all. Even if we feel we are unable to work with a candidate, we nonetheless inform him/her of our decision without his/her having to wait for an undue period of time. BCG is honest and upfront with all our candidates. We truly want to help each candidate find his/her next attorney job, but if it is our assessment that we cannot help a candidate secure employment given our current roster of law firm clients, it is our duty to offer alternative solutions so he/she can continue his/her job-search efforts immediately. We maintain contact with many additional candidates should a law firm position suiting his/her background and goals become available in the future. Many of the candidates we place each year are candidates whom we did not elect to work with when he/she first contacted us, but whom we revaluated for new positions.

Appealing to Law Firms

Ideally, legal recruiters provide law firms with the ability to advertise their jobs in a cost-effective way that reaches a specialized audience, as well as a way to screen and pre-evaluate the responding candidates in a manner benefiting their organizations.

A law firm cannot adequately advertise its own positions, and law firm employees do not have the time to review every candidate who applies for a position.

A recruiting firm fulfills both objectives.

Recruiting firms are able to broadcast the law firm's available positions to an audience of potential candidates that is much greater and far more specialized than the audience a law firm could reach using its own resources. Recruiting firms are moreover dedicated to the task of evaluating each and every candidate on behalf of the law firm, based on professional knowledge, expertise, and established criteria.

A law firm could, in fact, conduct a candidate search independently, either by using its internal recruiting coordinator or by advertising the job on its website. However, the candidate pool from which it will draw as a result will be very limited. Law firms are dedicated to the practice of law, not to the search for legal candidates. A recruiting firm is a law firm's partner, dedicated exclusively to this end. Providing the final hiring solution to its partner is the main impetus for recruiting firm advertising.

The greatest service recruiting firms provide for law firms is helping in the evaluation of job applicants. At any given time, there are thousands of attorneys throughout the country searching for new positions, but for each position available, only a select few will truly be right for the job. Law firms cannot afford to be deluged with possible candidates. They do not have the time or the resources to properly evaluate each one. A recruiting firm maintains the necessary resources to fully evaluate each candidate for the position, so it can present employers with only the strongest possible candidates, thereby satisfying the firms' hiring needs quickly and effectively.

This is also very advantageous for job candidates. While it is true that legal recruiters cannot work with every job candidate, the candidates they do represent will be presented to law firms under the most favorable circumstances. On his/her own, a candidate would be competing for a job against an indeterminable number of fellow attorneys, but by using a good recruiter, the candidate can effectively bypass several rounds of the search process and gain introduction to those directly responsible for making hiring decisions.

In the last 10 minutes alone, hundreds of new recruiter ads and job listings will have popped up in media sources large and small, old fashioned, and electronic. In all likelihood, new recruiting firms will have started up as well. It is a competitive marketplace, and no one knows that better than an attorney currently searching for a law firm position. Every recruiter will say that he/she has the answer for you. He/She will bombard you from all angles with bold messages and big promises, some of which will indeed sound very appealing. However, when the success of your career is at stake, it is important to look behind the advertising, at whether or not the recruiter delivers on his/her message. At BCG, we pride ourselves on our successful track record, and we firmly believe that no other recruiting firm is as effective and genuinely dedicated to serving the interests of its clients.