Is Resume Distribution Right For You?

Resume distribution is a popular idea, and it’s easy to see why. With one click, you can email (or have emailed for you) your resume and cover letter to legal recruiters or human resources personnel. It instantly gets your resume into the databases of hundreds of headhunters, some of whom may search back in their databases for up to one year when looking for a match for job openings. What a wonderful way to job search! Or not.

Resume distribution isn’t an effective job search method for most people—it’s sending unsolicited emails in bulk. That’s also called spam. And, in many cases, isn’t welcome and doesn’t result in your resume being considered. No matter how good the underlying database, how good the email “cover letter” and subject line, how good the attached resume… even so, resume distribution’s a gamble. You may get responses immediately, in a month, six months, or never. Why is this?

First, many types of employers don’t use legal recruiters because they do not want to pay legal recruiters’ fees. Again, employers pay recruiter’s fees because the recruiters work for employers, not for job candidates. This means that the most likely employers to use legal recruiters are the ones who can afford their fees: large, national/multi-national or high-end firms and corporations. Small law practices, nonprofits, regional or local employers, and governments do not generally use legal recruiters.

Second, many employers won’t use recruiters to fill entry or mid-level hires; they use recruiters only for senior level attorneys—employees with a proven track record of saving and making money, winning cases, managing matters and personnel, high client satisfaction, and more.

Third, many recruiters aren’t looking at candidates who are actively seeking new employment, especially candidates who are unemployed. There’s a huge biased against the unemployed, and though you might want to argue about whether it’s fair, it’s impossible to ignore that it’s part of our reality.

So, who does resume distribution work best for? It works best for candidates who are already employed, who are interested in large employers, and who have a high value distinction (like an LLM or a portable book of business) that can attract the interest of recruiters. If that doesn’t describe you, then you’re likely better off investing your resources in networking and other tried-and-true methods of job searching.