A Legal Recruiter Shares Her Hiring Secrets, with Wendy Schoen

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 212:

A Legal Recruiter Shares Her Hiring Secrets, with Wendy Schoen

Airdate: October 9, 2019

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m Mac Prichard, the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I interview a different expert about the tools you need to find the work you want.

For some job seekers, recruiters are figures as mysterious as the Wizard of Oz.

On today’s show, we’re talking to one of those wizards. And she’s promised to share her hiring secrets.

Joining us from New York City is Wendy Schoen. She’s the CEO and managing director of Schoen Legal Search.  And she’s one of New York’s top legal recruiters.

Well, let’s get started. Wendy, how do you find candidates for the jobs you fill?

Wendy Schoen:

In today’s world, I go to LinkedIn. It’s my favorite place to go. And I enter my search criteria into their search field and see what comes up.

Mac Prichard:

That surprises me; I would imagine you have a big database of people you’ve worked with over the years or that you’ve developed relationships with, but LinkedIn is your starting point.

Wendy Schoen:

Well, you know, LinkedIn allows you to have multiple layers of connection. So, everybody that’s in my personal database is now a first-level connection in LinkedIn, I’ve made sure to make sure that is there a first-level connection. So, it’s sort of like I’ve transferred my own personal database into my LinkedIn connections. And so that’s one of the criteria I put in first. And I put that I want to see all my first-level connections first.

Mac Prichard:

  

So, and you’ve been at it a long time, Wendy, I imagine when you plug into LinkedIn, dozens, probably a hundred names pop up. So how do you sort through all of those LinkedIn profiles?

Wendy Schoen:

Again, you put it in the criteria you’re looking for, and you hope that people have been smart, and have filled out their profiles, and made them full and ripe and juicy. And so that there’s stuff there that recruiters can find.

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s get into the secrets. And let’s talk about the juicy parts, what can a listener do on their LinkedIn profile to attract the attention of a recruiter like you?

Wendy Schoen:

The mistake most people do is that they put minimal information into their LinkedIn profile, and so that when I come looking for something specific, and I come to their profile, and their profile tells me nothing, I don’t have the time to look farther. I don’t have the time to investigate them somewhere else, I just skip right past. So, if they want to be…if they want me to see them, they have to make sure to put the effort into filling out their profile.

Mac Prichard:

So, give us an example of what you call the minimal profile that you skipped over, what does that look like? Paint a picture.

Wendy Schoen:

A minimal profile has their name and their school and their work name and title. And that’s about it. One that’s ripe and juicy tells me that, oh, you work at XYZ firm and you’re a corporate associate, but not just a corporate associate, you’re a structured finance associate. And under the structured finance associate, it gives me two bullet points to tell me what kind of a structured finance associate you are. So, that’s a little bit more of a much fuller description of what you are, rather than saying that you’re just a corporate associate for Fenwick and West.

Mac Prichard:

So, the example you’re giving is of an associate at a legal firm. And what’s striking to me about it, Wendy, is the level of detail, both about the job description and the responsibilities.

I just want to confirm that while we’re talking about the recruitment work that you do is in the legal world, that the principles you’re sharing here apply in any field, don’t they?

Wendy Schoen:

Absolutely, I was just, I was using it as an example. The person who just puts in the name of their company and their title, their basic title, without going into putting any thought into it, or trying to give some descriptive thought into their title, is doing themselves a disservice. They might as well have not put anything in there at all.

It’s to your advantage to spend the time to make sure that your LinkedIn profile tells the story of who you are.   so many more reasons why people are looking at your LinkedIn profile than just for a job search.

Mac Prichard:

Well, can you share some of those reasons, Wendy?

Wendy Schoen:

Sure. How many times have you gone to a conference and there’s a panel of speakers up there? Where do you think they find the people to speak? They find them from going out and saying, “Okay, we want to find some really great people who know what they’re doing in XYZ topic.”

They go out and they find them by doing a massive search on LinkedIn to find out who were the biggest speakers in a certain area of practice or certain area of work or certain areas of something. But that’s how they do it. It’s also good for rainmaking.

  

That’s how you find someone…you need to find a great lawyer to represent you in a case that you have that deals with fracking; how do you find the best lawyers that deal with fracking? You go to LinkedIn and you could find them that way.

There are so many different reasons why people turn to LinkedIn, and that have nothing to do with job search. But people go, Oh, my God, I can’t go near LinkedIn, because it has to do with job search. Absolutely not.

Mac Prichard:

   

Okay. And I think that’s good for a listener to hear. Because sometimes people tell me, they worry if they’re on LinkedIn too much. Or frequently, that it might signal to a boss or colleagues that they’re doing a job search.

But we are talking about job search today. And you have such a unique perspective as a recruiter. I’m thinking about that listener who says, “Okay, I have a minimal profile I because I candidly don’t know what else to do.”

So what are your top tips there, Wendy, for somebody who wants to up their game and build the kind of profile that will catch the eye of somebody like you, a recruiter?

Wendy Schoen:

  

You know how when you look at a newspaper there’s…and forgive me my age, I’m showing my age. But when you look at a newspaper, there’s an above the fold and a below the fold of the page?

Mac Prichard:

I remember above the fold and below the fold.

Wendy Schoen:

Okay, I’ll refer to what’s called above the fold portion of your LinkedIn profile, because that’s the piece that, when someone is flipping through various profiles, they see the front, the top half of your profile. So, you figure that that’s what someone’s going to look at.

And so, therefore, that’s what you want to have be the most impressive, so someone’s going to want to open your entire profile. So, when you look at that, there’s a couple of things.

First is your headline. That’s just that’s the thing that comes under your name and shows up every time your name comes up. It’s your picture, your name, and your headline. Well, LinkedIn automatically takes your title and your company name and puts it under your photo. And that’s the headline that they give you. But you don’t have to use that. It’s 140 characters that you can use to describe yourself any which way from Sunday.

Mac Prichard:

And what kind of headline jumps out at you as a recruiter? When you’re going through those dozens, maybe hundreds of LinkedIn pages.

Wendy Schoen:

Some people use shock effect, that talk about how to go about creating the perfect headline. And you can do anything under the sun you want to on there. Some people use humor, some people just use their credentials. Some people use anything under the sun, but you don’t want to leave it, “Corporate Attorney – Fenwick and West. “

Mac Prichard:

So avoid a, just the facts approach. Ever see a headline that turns you off, Wendy, when you were doing a review of a long list of LinkedIn…

Wendy Schoen:

  

Not really, no. Because someone’s taking the time to try and change it for a reason. A lot of times people even use the keywords, people talk about keywords. Those are the words that appear in job search ads, as being the things…the specific skills or things that a potential employer is looking for in a potential candidate. A lot of people put keywords up in their headlines that they have…

Mac Prichard:

Does that matter to you? As a recruiter, do you pay attention to keywords?

Wendy Schoen:

It depends on what I’m looking for. If I’ve put keywords into my search engine, then it’s going to pick up those keywords in somebody’s headline.

Mac Prichard:

So, moving beyond the headline, what else are you paying attention to?

Wendy Schoen:

   

There’s a whole section called “About”; it used to be called “Summary”, it’s now called “About.”

It’s where you can tell your story. It’s a big paragraph type space where you can tell your story, where you can sell yourself, where you can add notes. It used to be…there was a summary section at the top of your resume, where you get to say, “Hi, I’m this, this is me. I’m selling this.”

You know, where you get to encapsulate your greatest achievements or your biggest selling points. And so you get to put that sort of at the top of your section and, and in one or two or five sentences, give up your biggest selling points. So here, you might want to say, you know, I [graduated from] Harvard Law or MIT, you know share [the best information first] so as the reader as goes farther into your profile, make a note of what you want them to notice.

Mac Prichard:

   

Okay, I want to take a quick break, Wendy.

And when we come back, I want to talk about what happens after you’ve done that LinkedIn scan and you’re ready to work with a smaller group of candidates and what recruiters like you pay attention to and how someone moves forward on that list.

So, stay with us. We’ll be back in a moment. We’re talking with Wendy Schoen, a recruiter who’s sharing her hiring secrets.

I know you’re not surprised that Wendy and other recruiters look for candidates online.

You already knew this, didn’t you?

So, what’s stopping you from having the kind of digital presence that gets a recruiter’s attention?

If you’re not sure how to start, don’t worry. We can help.

Sign up for our free course, How to Wow and Woo Employers Online.

Go to macslist.org/wow.

In three short videos, I show you how to stand out from other applicants.

What you can do to make the most of your social media accounts during a job search.

And simple steps you can take to grow and serve your network throughout your career.

Go to macslist.org/wow. It’s free.

Recruiters today do more than glance at your last few Facebook posts or Tweets. Most hiring managers go deep into your LinkedIn page and other social accounts, too.

Learn how you can shine online.

Sign up today for How to Wow and Woo Employers Online. Go to macslist.org/wow.

Now, let’s get back to the show!

Mac Prichard:

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Wendy Schoen. She’s a legal recruiter in New York City.

And before the break, Wendy, you gave us some practical advice about things people could do on LinkedIn to catch your eye, you and other recruiters, when you turn to LinkedIn for possible candidates for a position you’re filling.

Now, let’s talk about the people who’ve made the cut and what happens next in the process.

You’ve looked at dozens, perhaps even hundreds of names, and now you’ve reduced it to a smaller group of people. What happens next?

Wendy Schoen:

   

Well, the one thing I didn’t mention earlier was, there’s a space where you can put that you’re open to opportunities…fill that out. The only people who can see that are people who’ve got the recruiter level of…

Mac Prichard:

Why is that important, Wendy?

Wendy Schoen:

I’m sorry?

Mac Prichard:

Why is that important?

Wendy Schoen:

The only people who can see that are people who’ve got the recruiter level of LinkedIn.

  

It tells us that you’re really serious about hearing about opportunities. And that’s the first group I’m looking at in any search that comes up.

Because that means you’ve done like half my job for me already. Because you filled it out and told me what you really want to hear about. Those are the first people I call and it starts a conversation immediately. I’m already talking to you.

Mac Prichard:

  

And Wendy, do you bother with the people who didn’t check the box?

Wendy Schoen:

  

Yeah. Okay, if I don’t find what I’m looking for, the people who did check the box, then I go to the people who didn’t check the box.

Mac Prichard:

But if you want to be in the first group, check the box.

Wendy Schoen:

Yeah, fill it out. Tell me what you’re looking for. Tell me where you’re looking? What you’re looking for, what turns you on? I want to know all that.

Mac Prichard:

   

So, you’re in conversation with people, and is that the next step? You come up with a list of, say, several dozen candidates and you start reaching out to folks by phone? Or how does it work, Wendy?

Wendy Schoen:

  

There are a lot of times that I reach out to them via inmail on LinkedIn. Other times I’ll reach out to them and I call them directly. It depends on the information that they have made available to me in their LinkedIn profile in their contact information.

If they have given me a cell phone number, I’ll call them on their cell phone. If they’ve given me a personal email address, I’ll reach out to them on their personal email address. If they’re a first-level connection of mine, if they’re in my own network, then I have that information. But it’s also available to me if they’re a first level connection?

Mac Prichard:

And people can provide this information. I look at a lot of LinkedIn profiles, too. And so, you don’t have to be a first-degree connection to…for someone, if you provide it, to see your personal email address or your cell phone do you?

Wendy Schoen:

Well, that’s the thing. If you’re not a first-level connection, I will be able to see some of your contact information. But not all of it. But it depends on how you have set your privacy settings.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so what can a listener do to set those privacy settings to make themselves as visible as possible to a recruiter like you?

Wendy Schoen:

Well, obviously they can set it so that all of your information is open to me. But the other way of doing it is to write in your About section, you can put your personal email and your cell phone number. But that is very open.

Or you can, just as I said, in your privacy section, make sure that your email address, it tells you, who is your email address available to? Who can see your email address?

And you can put it to everybody. And who can see your, you know, who can see your cell phone number? And you put it to everybody. And then it’s open to everybody.

Mac Prichard:

  

To make it easy for recruiters to contact you. what else happens in this process? Or steps do you see candidates take to make to move along, either on LinkedIn or in other ways online to get your attention? And to make it to that smaller and smaller group of finalists that you’re speaking with?

Wendy Schoen:

  

As I said, make yourself…you know, there are so many ways that you can limit the number of emails you get and limits the access people have to you. Don’t do that. Make yourself available.

Personally, I think everybody should always be listening. Because you never know who’s going to call you with the job of a lifetime that you never even thought about, even when you’re not looking. So, I think you should always be listening. You always have the option of saying, “No, thank you, I’m not interested at this time.” But you know, that’s not how active people think, which is a shame.

Mac Prichard:

Many people do exactly the opposite. They hide their contact information, or they say very little about themselves and their background, don’t they?

Wendy Schoen:

Yeah, and it just, what they don’t realize is that if I really, really, really, really, really, really have targeted you, and I really, really, really, really, really want to reach you, I’m getting to you.

I don’t care how you’ve shielded yourself or tried to hide behind yourself or whatever. If I’m targeting you specifically, not just a whole bunch of people and you’re in the way, but if I have said, “Jane Doe, you are the person I want to reach for this particular position. You are the person”, you can put up as many roadblocks as you want. It may take me a week or two. But I will get to you.

Mac Prichard:

  

Well, I believe it. But do you find that you have that experience? Or do you find most candidates are willing to speak to you?

Wendy Schoen:

You know, there are different kinds of searches and there are searches where you absolutely identify three or four people that you absolutely are talking to. That’s the kind of searches that you have, you and the client have decided on three people. And these are the three people that you’re going to talk to about this job. That’s one kind of search.

There’s another kind of search where you have, you know, lowered or gotten down the group of people that you’re interested in, to about, you know, 25 people, and you try and reach out to the 25 people. And you’re lucky if you talk to 12.

Mac Prichard:

Now, I want to pause there because so many job seekers tell me they’re eager to hear from recruiters. Why don’t people return your calls or respond to your emails?

Wendy Schoen:

Well, first of all, it depends on…mind you, my experience is within law. So, I deal with law firms, and in house law departments, and management consulting firms, and the like, and there are guardians of the gate.

Mac Prichard:

So, you’re not actually able to communicate directly or get past, say, an administrative assistant or other barriers.

Wendy Schoen:

Well, if you’re good enough, you can. It just takes a little more time and a little more effort. You know, it’s just a pain in the ass. But you know, you can’t come in the front door, you got to go in the back door.

And it depends on how many other choices there are. If I’ve got a group of 25 and 12 people in that group are easy to reach, I’m not going to expend the effort for, you know, past twice, to reach out to the other twelve. So if you’re not, if you’re telling me you’re not hearing about it, you’ve got a guardian of the gate problem.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk about a listener who does want to have a relationship with a recruiter like you. In addition to following the tips you shared about LinkedIn profiles, what other steps can someone take to both find a recruiter like you in their field, and keep those relationships going over the course of her career?

Wendy Schoen:

I have relationships going with lawyers that started when they were first-year associates. And they were just…I don’t want…I’ll say ???. But they were also polite when I called 100 years ago when they were first-year associates. And when I call back six months later, they were kind again, and they were kind again when I called back six months after that.

And over time you start talking to them, and they remember you. And they remember the conversations that you had with them. And everybody laughs that no, they’re still not looking. But they will remember you and they’re kind to you. And they start engaging you in a conversation over time.

And it’s the same thing, it’s just, they remember you over time, you remember them over time, they ask you a follow-up question. It’s not just, “No, I’m not looking.” Click.

And you build relationships with people over time. And that’s how, by the time you become a partner, you have a relationship with one or two or five recruiters, who you recognize are the ones that are the “stay around through thick or thin” kind of recruiters.

And look, when the market is good, in New York alone, it expands to 150/160 different recruiting firms. And when the market contracts in a recession, it contracts to be back to the normal 30 firms that are around all the time, when it’s thick or thin and bad or good. And very quickly, attorneys learn who are the ones that are around for the long haul.

And those are the ones that they engage in conversations because they’re going to be the ones that are going to be there, not just when they’re a first-year associate, but when they’re an 8-year associate, and will talk to them.

Mac Prichard:

  

It’s been a fascinating conversation, Wendy. Tell us, what’s next for you?

Wendy Schoen:

  

It depends on who calls me next. Yeah, who’s on the other end of the phone call? I mean, it’s the same thing. I think I think I said to you when we talked before, I’m at the stage in my career where I have spent time doing everything under the sun, whether it be partners, general counsel, in-house associates.

Right now, I do what I want to do. It’s my own company. I can do what I want to do. And so, you know, I come in in the morning and open my email and I looked at my phone. And it depends… it just takes me in a different direction. And it’s very nice because business comes to me. Every day is a different day. And I love it.

  

Mac Prichard:

That’s great. Well, I know people can learn more about you and your services by visiting schoenlegal.com.

You’ve shared a lot of advice today, Wendy, about how recruiters work. What’s your number one hiring secret that you want to leave with our listeners?

Wendy Schoen:

Fill out your profiles.

Mac Prichard:

  

Here’s my big takeaway from my conversation with Wendy. LinkedIn matters.

And taking simple basic steps on LinkedIn can make a huge difference.

As Wendy shared, recruiters are on LinkedIn every day looking for candidates for jobs they have to fill, and the people who pop up on their radar pay attention to important basic steps that you can take today.

If you’re not sure how to act on Wendy’s advice, we’ve got an online course that can help. It’s called How to Wow and Woo Employers Online.

It’s three short videos. And you can get your copy today by going to macslist.org/wow.

Have you ever said no when asked to volunteer because you thought you should get paid instead?

Our guest next Wednesday says that’s a mistake you don’t want to make twice. Aaron Good joins me on the show to talk about how volunteering can help you change careers. Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

If you’ve wanted to work with a recruiter but you’re not sure where to start, Find Your Dream Job guest Wendy Schoen offers solid advice on what steps to take first. Wendy recommends you start by updating your LinkedIn. You need to develop what Wendy calls a profile that is “full, and ripe, and juicy.” Embracing a “just the facts” approach with your profile is a great way to get skipped right over. Even if you aren’t currently looking for a job, building a relationship with a recruiter can be helpful for years to come as you grow in your chosen field.

About Our Guest:

Wendy Schoen is the CEO and managing partner of Schoen Legal Search, and she has been in the legal search field since 1993. She places a wide variety of attorneys into law firms, corporations, and consulting firms. Wendy’s clients range from major international law firms to start-up companies to international Fortune 10 companies. 

Resources in This Episode:

  • To find out more about the legal recruiting services Wendy offers, visit her website at schoenlegal.com.