Spring Cleaning for Social Media

It is the time of year that everyone is cleaning out their closets, their homes and their offices. But did you remember to scrub your social media? 

For those of you out there looking to find work this year, be sure to remember to clean up your social media (and parents of recent graduates this is good advice for your children). If you think recruiters and Hiring Managers stop at your cover letter and resume when deciding whether to give you that coveted interview, you are wrong… very wrong.

As a recruiter when I get a cover letter and resume the first thing I do is go to LinkedIn to make sure the resume matches with the profile. I cannot tell you how many times I find that the resume has been altered to match my position and a career law clerk is really an out of work lawyer that forgot to mention that degree on their resume. Now you think that may be a find, a lawyer working as a law clerk at the price of a law clerk, but it is not. It is a real problem for my client and I need to know that before I present them for a position. A lawyer who is taking a job as a law clerk is typically doing so until something better comes along. You cannot fool a good recruiter or Hiring Manager-- so make sure your LinkedIn is up to date and matches your resume, and do not make such substantial changes between the two so it appears you are being deceptive, burning bridges is never a good idea.

Facebook… some are under the misconception that Facebook does not matter because it is for personal use.  But it does. When I am placing a role for a client it is my job to make sure that candidate is best suited for the firm/company. I search the internet for anything I can find on a candidate, including Facebook.  Yes, I know Facebook is personal, it is not a professional network like LinkedIn. However, there are some things that are so inherently detrimental and inappropriate that if you are in the job market you should know better than to have that information publicly available. I do not need to state the obvious but your Facebook page should be free of any overly provocative photos, anything that can be deemed hateful, or in short anything you would not want an employer to know about you. 

Therefore, to all job seekers and parents of young professionals looking for a job, take the time to do some valuable spring cleaning and scrub your social media this spring break. 

Some websites that assist you in doing so are https://www.scrubber.social, https://www.repnup.com, https://www.socialmediascrubbers.com. 

JTF Recruitment Consultants is a boutique legal search firm specializing in the recruitment and placement of lawyers, law clerks, and all legal and administrative staff in Canada. We take your future very seriously and will keep your information completely confidential. Joanne Rossi, Managing Partner, JTF Recruitment Consultants, joanne@jtfrecruit.com

Do recruiters really have no shame?

I read a posting recently from a justifiably frustrated lawyer who posted that recruiters have “no shame.”  It really got me thinking because today I am a recruiter.  I am also a lawyer.  One of the reasons I became a recruiter is because I wanted to try and change the way recruiting was done.

Many years ago when I was a young lawyer I was happily minding my own business working in a law firm when I received my first recruitment call.  I was very flattered.  The recruiter said all of the right things to me.  More money, more power, less hours, better lifestyle, faster partnership.   I was sold.  However, after a few short weeks it was apparent that I was just a dollar sign to this recruiter and everything I was told was wrong, except the money.  But the money wasn’t everything to me and I was now working at my worst nightmare.   It was everything I was ethically opposed to, I rarely ever saw the light of day, if I even tried to Christmas shop on my lunch hour I was criticized.  The receptionist cried hourly as she was being traumatized by the partners.  This firm is left off of my work history for obvious reasons now and I resigned as fast as I possibly could.  It nearly ruined my career as a lawyer.  All of the money I spent on my education, all of the hours I spent in law school, my livelihood was nearly destroyed all so a woman who never spent a day practicing law could earn a percentage of a percentage of my yearly salary.  It took a bit but I pulled myself together and I moved on.

Now today I am where I am because of that move.  I met my husband, I am in Canada, and I work with the perspective and ethical considerations because of that situation, however, had I let it, it could have destroyed my career.  So do recruiters really have no shame?  I am not sure.  But quite a few really don’t have the foundation to realize that the power they have in their hands is substantial and that the product they are dealing with are human lives and not used cars.

So years later, I got into recruiting swearing I would be different.  It was difficult in the beginning.  When you are in larger organizations you are given quotas.  If you don’t reach them then you do not earn income or worse yet, are not employed.  And in the legal field most law firms give out their job orders to several agencies on contingencies.  So you have many agents from multiple companies in a mad frenzy competing against each other to fill one position.  So can they afford to lie in wait in response to an advertisement?  Not likely, especially when the law firm in all likelihood is also advertising as well.  Many of the junior recruiters do not have the contacts to work on referrals.  That is when the cold calling begins.  Unfortunately now your law firm will be subject to multiple calls by several agents all on the same job within a week.  It is frustrating.  It seems like they have no shame, but what they really have is no choice.  It is that or they don’t eat.  I opened my own company so I could avoid this.  I work with a smaller group of clients and I make sure I treat every career, every organization, as if it was my own.  

For frustrated law firms, there are things you can do to help; from the side of retention in your firm of your current employees, as well as how you handle recruiters when you retain them to hire on your behalf.  I will address the later first.

Retaining Recruiters

There is no real benefit to hiring more than one recruiter to fill a job for you. Build a relationship with one excellent recruiter who will represent your brand in the best possible light.  Giving the job to multiple recruiters just creates a feeding frenzy and a sense of urgency that results in quantity, not quality.  A good recruiter has access to the top talent in the industry.  This recruiter should have worked in the industry for a reasonable amount of time so you are getting someone who can speak the language with your candidates.  It creates a bond with the prospective employees and brings you a better pool of people to choose from.  If you are hiring a lawyer, your recruiter should have worked as a lawyer, if you are hiring a law clerk, your recruiter should have worked as a law clerk or higher.  You are paying for a specialist.  It is not enough to be a good salesperson in this industry.  You should be an expert in your field.  There is an influx of recruiters right now because so many people are graduating from college and with no experience, fast talking their way into a business that yields a high income and trades on valuable commodities, people’s lives and organization’s futures.  We should demand an expertise if we are going to get counsel on who to hire and why.  I believe that we should hire professionals to recruit our professionals.

Retaining Employees

I have written an entire article on this topic.  I cannot say this enough.  Transparency is the best policy.  Your employees are going to get calls from recruiters.  In this day and age where we put our information on LinkedIn, our company webpage, and more, we can’t hide.  The day is gone where if you are looking for a job you pick up the newspaper.  The jobs come to you now.  However, there are things you can do to minimize the impact to your organization.  First, the calls to the office. Tell your employees up front, in a meeting (not a memo or an email) that you know recruiters are contacting them.  That they are valuable to you so why would they not be valuable to others.  However, if they are called on company time you ask that they refer the recruiter to their home or cell number and to call when they are not on the clock.  You also can tell them that you have an open door policy.  If they are considering a move, before it gets to an offer stage, you would like to have a candid conversation about what changes you can make to the organization to retain them, and in the alternative, if they are moving on, to help you make it better for the future employees.  I also recommend as a preemptive measure to have reviews with your employees, not once, but twice a year.  This will keep you ahead of the competition and the recruiters.  You can give your employees feedback and ask for their feedback on your firm.  Communication is the key to success.  One of the three top reasons employees leave a company is lack of communication.  And remember, turn-over is not always a bad thing.  Healthy turnover is key to maintaining a thriving organization.  If you have gone through all of these steps and your employee is still leaving, then perhaps it is for the best and time to replace him/her with someone who will be more valuable in the long term. 

Recruiters are valuable to both lawyers looking to make a move, and law firms looking to hire.   I was met with a terrible one early in my career.  I have met numerous amazing ones.  It is the same as with any industry you just have to find the one that works best for you. 

Joanne Rossi

Managing Partner

JTF Recruitment Consultants


Part 2 of 2 part series: The Art of Lateral Hiring and Retention



Although this two-part article was written with lawyers in mind, the hiring and retention of any and all employees is the key to a successful firm and HR managers, along with law firm hiring partners, should work closely with any outside recruitment agency to make sure your firm's long term goals are communicated and accurately represented.

Retention of top talent in law firms, especially at the associate level, is becoming an increasing problem, particularly in an environment where the pool of mid -level experienced professionals is decreasing. For law firms, this is a very expensive problem that costs a firm somewhere around $325,000 per associate lost in training and administrative fees, not to mention the price of losing an associate to the competition. As a recruiter, I am often asked by my clients what they can do to retain their top talent put in place long term recruitment plans in order to accommodate both "healthy" turnover and expansion. What is important for a firm to understand first is the distinction between healthy turnover v. unhealthy turnover.

Healthy v. Unhealthy Turnover
Every organization undergoes healthy turnover. For a law firm, it means that it is constantly auditing employee performance and taking action when this performance is not in line with the firm's goals and standards. Not only is a firm making business decisions and setting goals, it is recognizing the need for, and establishing new roles to meet these goals. Healthy turnover at an associate level is somewhere around 10%. No turn over, or not enough turn over, can be just as detrimental to a firm as too much turnover. It prevents a firm from growing in the right direction. A firm may simply be keeping employees that are under-performing or developing roles around current and internal personnel, as opposed to sourcing and recruiting the best talent possible in order to create a brand known for hiring and retaining top legal professionals.

However, increased turnover, especially at the associate level, at minimum is the cause of frustration and a decrease in morale, blemishing the corporate culture of a law firm. Other larger concerns from many firms is how increased turnover influences their branding, the unavoidable negative affect on their bottom line, and how it directly impacts a partners practice group, productivity, his or her work load, mentor-ship programs, and the decrease in service of their existing clients due to the change in hands. In short, a firm must be aware of what it takes to retain key talent, otherwise it risks losing their investment to competition.


Despite what people think, my job as a recruiter is not an easy one. Lawyers do not move, usually, without careful consideration and without good reason (absent special circumstances such as extreme situations in the workplace, a need to relocate because of a spouse, desire to go in-house, etc.). Unlike support staff, who I can lure away from a position for something as simple as an easier commute, a better title, a $5,000 per year increase in pay, an opportunity to not have to work for a difficult partner or associate, or less or more overtime, a lawyer wants to have a reason to stay at one place and move up the ladder and become a trusted and respected member of a firm. There are however, three things almost every lawyer tells me that are imperative when considering a move, and at least one, if not all three of these things, are not being met at their current law firm: 

  • Flexibility 
  • Transparency 
  • Compensation 

It was often the case that lawyers were required to be in the office well beyond the hours necessary to complete their actual work load. These were known to many as face hours. If you walked the halls of the firms at 8pm you would see many associates still at their desks afraid to leave before their colleagues. Most, but not all law firms, have done away with this culture. However, when choosing firms, it has even gone a step beyond being able to leave when the work is completed. When given a choice between a higher salary and a firm with a good work/life balance with flexible work options, a lawyer will typically choose the firm that realizes that traditional working styles are not always more effect

Lateral Hiring: Recruiting Mid to Senior Level Talent

Lateral Hiring: Recruiting Mid to Senior Level Talent

Lateral hires are "the new black". It is all the fashion and companies are now wondering what they can do to attract the best existing and established talent from other organizations that are not paying enough attention to retention. Statistics show that this is true. For example, in 2011, lateral hiring in the legal industry was at an all-time high with a recent report showing a 22 percent increase over 2010 when it had dropped to its lowest level since 2000. Recruitment firms are noticing an identical trend for mid to senior level movement across the board in various industries, and we at JTF Recruitment Consultants are making it a priority to ensure that our clients are best equipped to attract and retain highly sought after talent.

So why is this happening, and what can companies now do to ensure that they are competitive in a marketplace where experience could provide a speedy path to growth?

If you think hiring a professional is expensive, try hiring an amateur.
The new trend in lateral movement can provide organizations with un-paralleled growth in a short period of time, making them highly competitive in a difficult market. However, if lateral hiring is done in haste, without the appropriate support, it can be an expensive waste of time. Unfortunately, many companies recruit for lateral hires as if they were recruiting for entry-level positions. They forget that to obtain top talent, they must conduct extensive due diligence and present their organization in the most favorable light. Simple advertising and interviewing will not achieve their ultimate goal, and as we all know, the wrong hire can be so expensive and time consuming that it is actually a detriment to the entire firm. Attraction and retention of the most desirable mid to senior level professionals with the requisite experience can involve hundreds of hours of work. The biggest mistake is to think you are going to find a gem by simply placing an advertisement and waiting for them to find you.

So what's a business to do? First, know what you want. Have a clear idea of the type of individual you need in order to be a success. This involves education, experience, personality fit, and if applicable, a business following. It seems simple, however, the broader a search is, the less likely you will find what you want; a mistake that many companies are making in a scramble to add or replace departing professionals. Initially, you should outline what your perfect person looks like. Then, if necessary, expand the search from there.

Second is to know who you are and what you have to offer. No longer does this simply mean salary and compensation packages. Money is not the only thing that motivates movement. And interestingly, as I have found, is usually not the key determining factor for a lateral hire. As a company, knowing who you are and what you bring to the table is probably the most important part of the process and the one that is most often ignored. Remember, you are not recruiting for an entry-level employee who is grateful that you simply looked their way. You are looking for the big fish in what is becoming a very small pond.

Hiring is a time consuming and expensive process and it is important to be sure that the person you are making an offer to meets your needs.
However, I have seen too many times, organizations lose the right candidate because they waited too long. Many companies have managing partners, hiring committees, HR divisions, and a whole line of people and processes in place before an offer can be extended. A lot of times organizations tend to take weeks or even months after interviewing a candidate they like to extend an offer because of processes, scheduling, and thinking there may be someone better out there. It is understandable that bringing on a high-level professional is somewhat a leap of faith, however, if you have taken the time to engage in the above protocol, and if you are working with a knowledgeable recruiter who you trust, there should be no reason to delay. Plan your search in advance so that when you begin interviewing you know what you are looking for, you know what you have to offer, and you are confident that you have a representative sampling of the marketplace. Careful planning will avoid losing your next best hire and will allow you the comfort you need to build your company into a powerhouse in the industry. 

Strategic Movement: Taking Your Career into Your Own Hands

Strategic Movement: Taking Your Career into Your Own Hands

Many professionals looking for a change have taken notice of positive movements in hiring. Statistics Canada reported a hiring surge this past March and April (over 140,000 new jobs created -the largest jump since 1981) across several sectors, with private sector hiring and more full time positions taking credit for a large part of this economic growth. In addition, various job industries have experienced as much as a 25% increase in lateral hiring in 2011 giving experienced professionals the opportunity to finally make the change they have been waiting for.

Unfortunately, after several years of economic uncertainty, many professionals have forgotten that it is they who ultimately have control of their future. Instead of seizing the opportunity to decide what direction their careers will take, professionals lay-in-wait thinking that the right job will find them. This approach sometimes works, however, I have found that the more proactive you are with your career, the more likely you are to identify and secure the best position that will result in a long term career choice as opposed to just the next best job.

Some Friendly Advice: 

Know where you have been and where you want to go 
The first thing you must do if you are considering a career change is to make a plan. The worst thing you could do is to take a new job that fulfills a short term need for change but not a long term plan for your future. Think about what it is about the job you have now and those you have had before that you really like and what you really did not like. Decide what direction you want your career to take and then draw your own path. Your next position should only be a forward step. If you are moving backwards or sideways then you are not doing anything to build your career; you are simply sidestepping to cure a short term problem that will most likely follow you to your new company. 

Talk to your family and friends 
Often your family and friends know you better than you do. Do not underestimate how those close to you can help you with career decisions and provide you with feedback on your future. Consult with those you trust most from the onset of your search and be open to their advice and counsel. 

Research and Contact a Recruiter
A good recruiter can be your new best friend. For an experienced professional, a trusted recruiter can help you with career counselling and placement; a lifeline to your professional success. Once you have made the decision to make a move, research the recruiters that have expertise in your chosen area and provide them with as much information as you can about yourself, your experience, and what type of position you are looking for. The more a recruiter knows about you, the more opportunities they will be able to present to you. Most importantly, make sure you are honest with yourself and your recruiter, and make sure your recruiter is honest and candid with you. This is a very important relationship you are building and a good recruiter can provide you with counsel throughout your entire career. 

Resumes, Social Media and Interviewing; Your best friend or your worst enemy 
Be careful! That is the first piece of advice I can give anyone. Before you do anything publicly, assume your employer 10 years from now will be looking at it. They probably will. Take extreme caution as to anything you put on paper, it is out there forever. Furthermore, be respectful; when you draft your cover letter and resume, or interview with your potential employer, remember they are not your text messaging buddy, don't treat them as such. 

Now is the time to take control of your future. With careful planning, research and communication, an experienced professional should be able to build the career they envision for themselves. Take the bull by the horns and get yourself ready, the future is yours.