Changing Your Resume To Satisfy A Recruiter? Er, Maybe Not.

Like the rest of the legal hiring landscape, legal recruiting has changed with the times. This means that many of you will not work with legal recruiters until you’re mid level attorneys or even more senior. However, a few of you will have the opportunity to talk with recruiters, who may then ask you to make changes to your resume. What should you do? Remember headhunters don’t work for job candidates; they work for employers who are trying to fill positions. Most recruiters work on contingency (as opposed to retained search). That means they compete with other recruiters to get their candidates front of employers and, hopefully, to fill positions. The recruiter gets paid only when his candidate is accepted (and stays with the employer for a specified amount of time).

All of this means that it’s helps recruiters to have a large, high-quality database of job candidates. When an opportunity opens up, the recruiter can search his database of candidates to (again, hopefully) find a good match. At some point, the recruiter will forward the candidate’s resume onto the employer for consideration. This is where the question of changing your resume comes in. The recruiter might ask you to make changes to your resume to prepare it for submission to an employer.

Every legal recruiter is different. Some of them (or some of their corporate clients) have specific requirements for resumes. If you are working with a legal recruiter, and that recruiter asks you to make changes, then don’t make those changes to your original, master resume. Instead, save it as a new document and then make the changes to that new document. The point here is to preserve your original documents, while trying to meet the recruiter’s needs.

There’s another consideration, however. If a legal recruiter asks you to make a lot of changes, you consider asking that recruiter whether he has a specific job in mind. Some recruiters have candidates jump through hoops—including re-formatting their resumes—only to have the candidate (you) to discover that the recruiter had no job on offer and was simply stating his personal preferences. When you inquire, be respectful; you don’t want to make negative assumptions. But be sure that before you hire a professional resume writer to alter your resume, or spend potentially hours doing so yourself, that the headhunter actually has a job in mind for you. You don’t want to waste time, energy, and money just to satisfy one person’s idiosyncratic wishes.