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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

February 18, 2016

I can’t leave my current job right now for personal reasons. What do I say to recruiters when they call about new opportunities? I don’t want waste anyone’s time.

Julie Q. Brush

If you are not looking to move – whether it be now…or ever, it will always be in your best interest to be responsive, polite and transparent when recruiters come-a-callin’. But instead of shutting the door completely, I recommend that you use this opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the best recruiters as well educate yourself on the current state of the market. Why? Because given the current rate of mobility among today’s lawyers, the odds are quite good that you will be seeking greener pastures within the next few years. So staying connected is a must. You don’t have to pursue a long conversation or relationship with everyone who reaches out. Being selective is advised. But in the spirit of professional courtesy, I recommend that you provide a reply to those who have sought you out. Below are a few sample responses:

Response #1:

“Hi Jenny, thank you for reaching out to me about this opportunity. While the position sounds intriguing, I’m not in a position to leave my role. I’m not sure when my situation will change, but it is always interesting to see what kind of opportunities are out there. So please do continue to keep me in mind as other positions arise. Best Regards, Samantha”

Response #2:

“Robert, thank you for bringing this opportunity to my attention. It sounds terrific, but I cannot leave my current role for some time so I’m unable to consider it more seriously. However, it would be great to schedule a call – as there will be a point where I will be ready to make a move and I’d like to stay on your radar. Let me know if this is something that would be of interest to you. Best, John”

Response #3

“Hi Barbara, this opportunity looks like it would be a good fit given my background. But for personal reasons, I’m not in a position to leave my current job. You have an excellent reputation in the legal community and it would be great to stay in touch. If you’d be open to a call, I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss my background and the market so that when I’m ready to make a move, you’ll have a good sense of the best fit for me. Let me know if you are available to talk in the next few weeks. Cheers, Elizabeth”

Response #4

“Hi Dan, thank you for your email and bringing this opportunity to my attention. I am not in the market at the moment, but would be happy to learn more about the role in order to refer you to appropriate colleagues who might be interested. Let me know if you’d like to schedule a brief call. Thanks, Sandy”

Response #5

“Hi Allison, Congratulations on your search! I appreciate your contacting me about it; however I am not in the market for a new position. But if someone comes to mind, I will let you know. In the interim, I wish you the best of luck! All the best, Steve”

Response #6

“Peter, thank you for reaching out about this opportunity. For personal reasons, I won’t be in a position to leave my current role for 12-18 months. With this said, it would be great to meet in person in the upcoming months. At some point I will be in search of a new role and would appreciate your opinion on my background as well as the current hiring market. Let me know if you’d be open to a meeting sometime in July. Best, Alex”

The wisest professionals cultivate relationships and maintain a level of professional courtesy throughout their careers – even during times when securing a more material career benefit is not on the table. While you are not in the market now, you will be at some point in the future. So the courtesy of a polite and transparent response is strongly recommended. If you would like to learn more about the opportunity, the market and/or build a stronger relationship with a particular recruiter, all you have to do is ask. The very best will oblige and look forward to staying in touch. So the next time you are contacted, use the sample responses above as a guide – and you’ll increase your chances for a stress-free and productive interaction.

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chere Estrin, CEO, OLP

ou to dance doesn't mean you have to dance. As a recruiter and job search coach for over 20 years, I can tell you what it is like on this end. When potential candidates ignore me, brush me off, I simply move on. Sometimes, when they do take the call they are shocked or even annoyed. I remember that and mark my files because it is possible that is how they may respond should I ever handle them and I do not handle everyone. What I do chuckle at, however, is these same candidates will suddenly seek me out when they realize they must make a move and are searching for top recruiters. They come back and think that I don't have notes or recall how I was treated. It's not that I personalize. It's how they may respond to my clients or how they may behave once they get on the job. Be sure to adhere to the excellent advice above. It's right on point.

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