Don't Believe the Hype about ''Exclusive'' Job Openings |

Don't Believe the Hype about ''Exclusive'' Job Openings


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Lately, we've been hearing from candidates that they are receiving cold-calls from recruiters claiming to have ''exclusive'' job listings that can only be applied for through that cold-calling recruiter. Of course, this is nothing new, and is indeed a favored strategy of cold-calling recruiters; but, I've recently seen candidates make costly mistakes as a result of such calls, including one instance where a candidate accepted an offer that ultimately is a very poor fit for her credentials and her stated long-term career interests.
Don't Believe the Hype About ''Exclusive'' Job Openings

The bottom line: when it comes to “exclusive” job listings, don't believe the hype. Only in rare instances will firms enter into exclusive arrangements with a recruiter with respect to a job opening. Think about it – by doing so, a firm vastly limits its potential candidate pool. Of course, there are some instances where contractually binding exclusive or retained search agreements make sense – for example, when a firm is looking to bring on board a new practice group or has had trouble finding qualified candidates for a position requiring a very specific or technical skill set. But these instances are rare indeed.

Here are some tips on how to handle the next cold call from a recruiter with a so-called “exclusive” job listing. First, ask them some key questions, such as: why is the law firm in question handling this particular search as an exclusive rather than opening it up to other recruiters?; how does the recruiter know that this is an exclusive search/is there a contract between this recruiter and the firm stating that the recruiter is the only person entitled to fill this job opening?; and, why was the recruiter interested in taking on this exclusive search/what is it about this firm and this position that so appeals to the recruiter? If this is truly an exclusive, the recruiter will easily be able to answer these questions (and, in fact, most good recruiters who are handling an exclusive listing will provide answers to these questions before you even get a chance to ask them).

Also, don't forget to use your common sense. If the cold-calling recruiter is overly-concerned about you disseminating information about this listing to your long-term recruiter, this should give you some pause. If it is really an exclusive the recruiter won't be too concerned about this, since they should have a contractually binding agreement in place stating that they are the only recruiter who can submit candidates for the position. Lastly, as always, be leery of a recruiter who is ready to fire off your resume to a law firm after nothing more than a 5-minute conversation with you. That recruiter can't possibly know enough about you or your career goals to be an effective advocate for you, or to help steer you towards opportunities that are best-suited to your expertise and interests.

Remember, the best way to ensure a successful job search is to adhere to a consistent approach. If you're working with a recruiter you trust, stick with that person. If that person knows that you are putting your search in their hands, they will be fully committed to finding you the best fit for your interests (and will advise you accordingly, rather than trying to steer you towards an opening they have been incentivized to try to fill on behalf of a firm). Finally, keep in mind that you are better off sending your resume to as few recruiters as possible – this will help ensure the continued confidentiality of your search and can help protect against the unauthorized dissemination of your resume.

See the following articles for more information:

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.

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