It is, of course, my job to present my candidates with law firm openings as they arise. Every so often I hear in response to a new opening, “I have a friend at that firm.” My first reaction is – great! Then the follow up question, “Is it better to submit through my friend or you?” Or worse, the statement, “I would rather submit through my friend.”

It’s wonderful when my candidate has a contact at the firm that I present.  If you have a friend at a firm that interests you, it gives you the ability to get some inside-information from a source you trust.  However, when it comes to presenting you as a candidate to the firm, here’s why it may be a BAD idea to submit your materials directly through your friend:

Your friend may not be viewed as impartial.

Granted, recruiters may not be viewed as impartial because we want all of our candidates to secure jobs.  However, my reputation as a recruiter depends on the quality of the candidates that I submit. If I can’t solidly stand behind WHY I submitted a candidate to a particular firm, I won’t send that individual.  For this reason, recruiters are viewed as a pre-screening process.  Generally, the higher quality candidates are submitted through a recruiter. Good recruiters are often known in the industry and their submissions go to the top of the pile.

Everyone wants to work with their friends or help their friends in securing a job.  In this way, their word that you are a good candidate for a particular position may not go so far as a more impartial judge whose reputation is on the line.

Your friend might not be persistent.

If there is an open position, recruitment coordinators are inundated with resumes (some qualified, some not). It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle, especially during active hiring seasons.  If you submit your resume in through a friend, it puts your friend in a precarious position in terms of the follow-up.  Will your friend know how to follow-up?  How often? Let’s face it, your friend is busy working for a prominent law firm.  Will she have the time or even remember to follow up with the recruitment coordinator on your behalf?

Your friend might be on her way out the door.

Do you know with absolute certainty that your friend has a positive reputation at her firm? Does this person have a future at the firm?  It is entirely possible that the firm has an opening because they are looking to replace someone (yes, possibly your friend). Believe it or not, this has happened before.

Even if this isn’t the case, if you submit your materials through a friend your first impression with the firm is directly tied to how the attorneys feel about your friend.  This can be a definite positive for you, but it can also be a large drawback. Are you willing to take that risk?

Here’s where your friend comes in:

It’s really great that you have a friend or a contact at a firm that interests you. Allow a recruiter to put together a professional package and present you to the firm (a package that can be emailed, snail mailed…and yes, faxed). Let the recruiter handle the follow-up phone calls and emails.  It’s a recruiter’s job to be persistent.  Then, have your friend put in a good word for you. If your friend has a good reputation at her firm, her word could certainly go a long way.  If she doesn’t, there is nothing tangible that connects you to her. Your submission is still impartially considered.

Recruiter + friend is a great way to take a bite out of both ends of the apple.