Is Telling a Headhunter That You Are About to Be Laid-off a Good Move? | \n

Is Telling a Headhunter That You Are About to Be Laid-off a Good Move?


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I am a mid-level corporate associate and have just been told that I am being laid off because there is not enough work in my practice group. My firm is giving me three months to find a new position. One of my friends at the firm has advised me that I should not tell my headhunter the truth about my situation because it will only hurt my chances of finding a new job. Is this true?
Is telling a headhunter that you are about to be laid-off a good move?


This is a great question that more and more candidates seem to be asking as of late, especially in this market. First and foremost, I think it is very important to be as honest and forthright with your recruiter as possible from the very beginning about all aspects of your job search, including the reasons you are looking for a new position. Transitioning to a new job can be a very stressful experience, and recruiters want to make this process as easy as possible for you. In addition, recruiters work very hard on behalf of their candidates in order to help them find that perfect new job.
However, in order to allow your recruiter to do the best job possible on your behalf, it is imperative that you provide your recruiter with all important and relevant information regarding your background, experience, and job search. Withholding potentially negative information from your recruiter will only cause problems down the road because this information seems to inevitably come out at some point, and usually to the detriment of the candidate. It is much better if your recruiter knows all relevant facts from the outset of your job search so that she can determine the best possible way to handle your specific situation.
With respect to your specific case, I do believe that honesty is the best policy as the truth always seems to come out. Firms routinely ask lateral candidates why they are leaving their firms, and the fact that you are being laid off because your practice group is slow is unfortunately becoming more and more commonplace. Thus, it is nothing to be ashamed of, as firms seem to be a bit more understanding of this situation. However, it is very important that you are able to provide strong references from your current firm in order to alleviate any concerns that you are being laid off for performance-related reasons.

In addition, by not disclosing your current situation up front, you may find yourself in the awkward position of no longer being employed in the middle of the interview process with a potential employer. At this point it will be very difficult to explain the change in your employment status because the firm will recognize that you have been withholding important information from them. This can be very detrimental to the interview process and ultimately lead to disastrous results.

For example, a few years ago, one of my former candidates was in this exact situation - i.e., he had been laid off from his firm, and the firm had told him to not tell his recruiter the truth about his situation because it would hurt his chances of finding a new job. Thus, he never told me that he was being laid off and only had a few months to find a new position.

This candidate had no problems getting interviews as he had outstanding academic credentials and was at a top Los Angeles law firm. He successfully obtained several interviews and ultimately received an offer to join a fantastic firm. However, unbeknownst to me, this candidate was no longer employed at his firm when the offer was extended. In fact, the candidate had misrepresented his employment status when he had gone on his last interview with the firm.

Obviously this was not a good situation. At the end of the day, both I and the firm finally learned the truth about this candidate's situation. When the firm found out, they rescinded the candidate's offer because of the misrepresentation and not the fact that the candidate had been laid off. Because of the candidate's numerous misrepresentations and lack of disclosure, the firm had serious concerns about the candidate's ethics and integrity.
Had the candidate told me and the firm the truth about his situation from the beginning, the firm would not have rescinded the offer. In addition, I had lost complete faith in this candidate and was no longer able to trust that what he was telling me was the truth. As a result, I stopped representing this candidate.

See the Top 32 Reasons Attorneys Lose Their Jobs Inside of Law Firms to learn some of the most common reasons attorneys are fired or let go from law firms.

In summary, while your situation is an unfortunate one, it is not an insurmountable one. Unfortunately in this economy layoffs are becoming more common. However, there are definitely opportunities out there for candidates like yourself. To be able to capitalize on these opportunities, trust your recruiter to be able to handle your situation in the most appropriate manner. Best of luck!

See the following articles for more information:
    Learn how to be a legal recruiter in this related article.
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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.

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