Recruiters as Agents: What Should You Look for in an Agent? |

Recruiters as Agents: What Should You Look for in an Agent?


Print/Download PDF

Font Size

Rate this article

22 Reviews Average: 4.2 out of 5

BCG Attorney Search is a legal placement firm and not a legal recruiting firm. There is a huge difference. Read more about this here.

On a daily basis, recruiters serve as agents for their candidates, with different degrees of success. What exactly is involved in effective and efficient agency on behalf of a client, and what should you look for in a recruiter/agent? In this article, we'll discuss some of the most significant components of effective agency: Advocacy, Goodwill, Ethics, Navigation, Competition, and Yield.
Recruiters as Agents: What Should You Look for in an Agent?

The ability to advocate on behalf of a client is one of the most significant characteristics a recruiter must possess to serve as an effective agent. When clients are looking for agents, they seek out individuals who possess the skills to serve as strong advocates for their causes. Strong advocates always keep the best interests of their clients in mind, and a good recruiter will always act in the best interests of the client and not their own self-interests. Advocacy also involves a high level of personal interest and commitment to the client. An effective recruiter will look beyond the surface and take the time to listen, probe, ponder, and ask the questions that will ultimately bring about an understanding of the client’s goals, motivations, fears, and major accomplishments. Armed with what might be described as the client’s special “nuances,” a recruiter serving as the client’s agent will be better equipped to more effectively market the client. And because these nuances are often vast and varied, marketing them effectively allows the recruiter to bring to the client a larger pool of opportunities.
From an agent’s perspective, good will is the capital the agent earns with a client based on prior performance, excellent representation, and delivery of high-quality services/goods. A recruiter serving as an agent delivering high-quality candidates to firms earns the firms’ trust. The resulting established goodwill allows the recruiter to “cash in” later when representing additional candidates to the firm based on the recruiter’s excellent record for delivering high-quality candidates. This goodwill may in fact put one recruiter’s candidates before another’s. Thus, when seeking a recruiter, a candidate should be mindful of the recruiter’s reputation for excellent representation and relationships with law firms in the marketplace. Goodwill is also capital the recruiter earns with candidates for having represented them in the most professional manner, producing the best results, which may later result in referrals of other candidates to the recruiter/agent. In turn, the representation of those excellent referrals to law firms promotes further goodwill among candidates and law firms in the community. Goodwill is the intangible force that drives the entire recruiting process.

Whether an agent is trustworthy, fair, and honest is the single most important factor a client should consider when engaging his/her services. When representing a client throughout the hiring process, a recruiter may be faced with one or more ethical dilemmas, and a client must be able to have confidence that the agent has good judgment and will act fairly and ethically based on his/her evaluation of whether an action is right or wrong. When faced with ethical dilemmas, a good recruiter will often do a self-evaluation of his/her thinking, many times seeking out a third-party perspective. The recruiter may even call his/her colleagues to get an objective read on whether he/she is contemplating a correct move on behalf of the client. In many cases, recruiters have to make very tough decisions. The best recruiters consistently “self-evaluate” in the area of ethics and have an overriding conscience that disallows compromise in this area.

Similar to a pilot’s anticipating a cross country trip, a recruiter/agent must have excellent navigation skills and the ability to effectively map out the best and most strategic course for the client, seeking to avoid potential perils and pitfalls en route to transitioning a client to a new position. Good navigators are products of significant training and preparation. An effective recruiter comes to the table with a variety of resources on hand to help him/her navigate on behalf of the client. These include, among others, the ability to listen effectively, excellent research skills, knowledge of the legal market, a broad base of contacts, excellent marketing and follow-up capabilities, and strong negotiation skills.

Competition for jobs in top-tier law firms can be fierce. Some firms may interview 5-10 highly qualified candidates for one opening. To a large extent, good recruiters, like good athletes, are competitive and often (and sometimes unknowingly) display characteristics that can be found in good athletes. These characteristics include sacrifice, commitment, dedication, hard work, a strong work ethic, focus, the ability to overcome obstacles, resiliency, and the drive to continually seek out a way to succeed. A competitive edge allows a recruiter to foresee and overcome obstacles, anticipate the next step in the process, and stay focused on the ultimate goal—getting the client a new job.

Finally, an excellent recruiter/agent will produce the yield or a healthy return for his/her client, which will in most cases involve a new and exciting alternative position. But in some cases, the yield or healthy return for a client may be to stay put or follow an alternative opportunity that may not involve the agent’s direct representation at all. Thus, yield and advocacy (discussed earlier) go hand in hand, and the yield of an agent’s labor will be reflective of the agent’s advocacy and concern for the client’s best interest. The yield should be reflective of the client’s best interest both in the short term and the long term, taking into account the future aspirations of the client to insure the move is a good fit for years to come.

These components drive the most successful recruiter/client relationships and, when present, ultimately bring about the best long-term results for candidates and law firms.

See the following articles for more information:
What separates the best legal recruiters from the rest? Find out in this related article.
See What Other Candidates Are Saying: Testimonials and Reviews
BCG Attorney Search is looking for driven recruiters to join our team. BCG Attorney Search covers the entire United States, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. We offer first-rate training and coaching, pay top of market commissions, pay our recruiters as employees and not independent contractors, and offer medical insurance and other benefits. Additionally, BCG is the best known brand in the industry and is part of a 200+ employee legal employment company. We offer a supportive cooperative atmosphere and provide you with everything you need to be the most effective recruiter possible (continually updated internal job database, massive advertising support, incredible back office support, and many other perks designed to ensure you match every possible candidate with every available position).

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

Article Categories

AGREE/DISAGREE? SHARE COMMENTS ANONYMOUSLY! We Want to Hear Your Thoughts! Tell Us What You Think!!

Related Articles

We've changed thousands of lives over the past 20 years, and yours could be next.

When you use BCG Attorney Search you will get an unfair advantage because you will use the best legal placement company in the world for finding permanent law firm positions.