Top 5 Reasons Legal Recruiters Are Not Responding To You

By: Karen Anderson

If you are a candidate frustrated because your calls, emails, or resume submissions have gone unanswered, keep reading, this post is for you. If you have been sending resumes, applying to jobs online, making calls and leaving messages, which are all going unanswered, you may be frustrated, and understandably so. You may think that you are a great candidate, or that you are a perfect match for that online job you just applied for. Perhaps you may be right. So why isn’t anyone getting back to you? First, let me assure you that the lack of response is not personal — even if it feels that way. But that being said, there are things at work internally in a legal recruiter’s world that explain why you’re getting the silent treatment. This is not meant to justify the behavior, but simply to explain it. Here are the top 5 reasons legal recruiters are not responding to you.

1.  Legal Recruiters Work for Employers

Legal recruiters work for employers, not job seekers. They are hired by employers to find the best talent for the position the employer is seeking to fill. They do this by delivering very specific requirements set forth by the employer. Legal recruiters aren’t paid unless their client company hires a candidate they submit. When a legal recruiter has successfully presented a candidate that the employer decides to hire, then the employer pays the legal recruiter a fee when that candidates starts the job. Given that it’s the employer that pays the legal recruiter for its legal recruiting services, it makes sense that the legal recruiter’s first priority will be the employer, rather than the candidate.

2.  Legal Recruiters Are Not Job Counselors

Given that legal recruiters work for employers, their first priority is to identify candidates to fill those positions. So shouldn’t they be just as eager to you? It depends on what the call or email is about. Candidates, in addition to finding a job, often have other objectives for contacting legal recruiters. They sometimes want advice on the legal market, compensation, and industries hiring, or want to change careers, switch practice areas, or transition from law firms to in-house.  Unless you are sending your resume for an open job that you are an absolute perfect fit for, chances are you’re other inquiries will be ignored. While legal recruiters counsel candidate whom they are able to represent and place, it’s not a legal recruiter’s job to spend time providing career service counseling to candidates. They are not career counselor or coach for job seekers working to help you change careers or practice area. As mentioned before, they are in the business of identifying top legal talent for their client company’s open positions. This is why candidate who call wanting to “discuss their careers” and other matters that require some form of counseling and advice often go unanswered.

3.  Legal Recruiters Have Limited Time and Resources

Legal recruiters have limited time and resources to meet a very specific objective. It is not that they are uninterested in talking to candidates about their careers or other matters; they can’t afford to do with everyone. The fact remains that employers who hire legal recruiters often do so with a deadline in mind. In other words, legal recruiters are usually allotted a specific amount of time by employers to fill a position before the employer moves on to another legal recruiting firm. In other instances, legal recruiters are in a race with other legal recruiting firms to find candidates to fill a position. This means that legal recruiters work under tight time deadlines, and have to move fast to deliver results, or lose their commission. While it’s not polite to be non-responsive, and very frustrating for candidates no to hear back from legal recruiters, the reality is that legal recruiters don’t have the resources and time to respond to all emails or calls. It’s a matter of priority.

4.  Legal Recruiters Network On a Specific Basis

Legal recruiters generally network for candidates in connection with positions they are handling. In other words, they are focused on filling specific positions for which they have been hired. In the course of this process, they do meet and speak with huge number of candidates. They network and build connections all the time. But, it is impossible to meet or speak with all candidates, no matter who they are or how good they may be, and no matter what their title is. It is not possible to continuously network candidates on a “go-see” basis, or answer every candidate call and email. There are many really good people looking, but not enough time to get back to everyone, or enough positions to satisfy every job seeker. Recruiters who don’t return calls and emails do so either because they don’t have the time, or because it is easier than saying they don’t have anything.

5.  Legal Recruiters Focus on Filling Open Positions

Legal recruiters do take a look at your information, even if they are not responding to you personally. Good legal recruiters will always review your resume and look at your online profiles (i.e. LinkedIn). They are always looking for talent to fill their open positions. However, in an overall slow economy, legal recruiters are bombarded by an extraordinarily high number of applicants that do not even remotely resemble the required or desired qualifications.  When you are applying for positions, make sure you match what the position requires, not what you would like to do or learn to do, but haven’t yet.   Also, while you may appear qualified and check all of the boxes in the “requirement” section of the advertising, you may be missing an essential ingredient the legal recruiter has not specifically advertised or mentioned in the job posting. These “unlisted” items could include a number of things such as unreasonable salary expectations, unclear work authorization or work history, or too many jumps in employment, all of which could prevent a legal recruiter from responding. If a legal recruiter is looking for someone like you to fill a position, they will respond right away, if not, they will likely be unresponsive. In this case, it is best for you to move on, and wait until you are that candidate they are recruiting for.


Working with legal recruiter can be a great benefit in your job hunt, but only if you understand their role in the hiring process. Returning calls and emails is part of the business, and there is no excuse for rudeness. However, even with the best of intentions, legal recruiters often lack the time and resources to give all candidates the attention they seek. If you don’t hear back from a legal recruiter, do not cause yourself added stress by thinking it is personal, it is simply a logistics issue regarding limited resources. With the sheer volume of resumes that legal recruiters receive in today’s market, it is physically impossible to get back to everyone, even if they hired a team to do it. As a candidate, following-up and showing interest is good, but don’t send more than one message or voicemail. Rest assured that they got your message and/or resume, and they will call you back if and when they have a position for you.

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Written on: 04/12/16 PDF Version