Joe Blackburn
Joe Blackburn
Associate

Articles From the Team

FTSE 250 recruitment agency versus a specialist legal recruitment agency

I’m coming up to the end of my second year at a specialist legal recruitment agency, and next summer marks five years since I started at an international recruitment business as part of its graduate scheme.

Having spent a decent amount of time at both employers, I’ve gained experience working within two distinct business models: a market-leading niche legal recruitment agency and an FTSE 250 business with offices in 36 countries across six continents.

I don’t have anything bad to say about my first employer. Straight out of university with my useless geography degree, I was given a chance. They gave me a great grounding in recruitment, taught me everything there is to know through well defined, tried and tested training methods. I experienced great management and made some friends I’m still close with today. Socially, it was a right laugh. I recommend it to anyone looking to make a start in recruitment.

I moved to BCL in January 2018 because I wanted to move to a specialist and to become a specialist myself.  I had become good at business development, unafraid of cold-calling and pretty good at filling jobs across a wide range of roles but I was keen to build a name for myself in one specific area and to develop real contacts who I’d work with time and time again. Prior to joining, I felt moving to a market-leader that only focusses on legal recruitment could offer me that.

Looking back at the end of the past two years, I think it has offered me that and more. I have experienced many benefits. While having a big brand name that’s recognised the world over can be beneficial when it comes to business development amongst those with limited recruitment experience, there’s no substitute for 15 years of a brand operating within a niche marketplace – as BCL Legal has in the private practice legal market in Manchester. People (both candidates and clients) use BCL because they always have, and there is definite confidence that we can get the job done. We regularly work with the majority of the law firms in Manchester, ensuring we have jobs for most candidates at any one time. Therefore, I now have a very different job, much less business development (in the stereotypical cold-calling sense) and much more relationship development.

I regularly work with the same clients I worked with when I first joined, meaning a really good relationship is in place; I have a good understanding of their needs and  what kind of candidate will work best in their  team and at their firm. Put simply, my job is easier.

People at BCL are also very well rewarded. My bonus is significantly better and much more achievable and clearly defined. Therefore, I can plan better financially. In recruitment, discretionary bonuses shouldn’t exist (we do this job to get paid). I didn’t do badly in my old job, I was promoted twice, and occasionally I was paid well, but now I have seen the other side it is easy to feel grateful.

Strangely, both businesses claim they have the largest database in the market, and they’re probably both right in their own way. The major difference I’ve found is that working at a specialist legal recruitment agency means our database is much more relevant, even if it’s slightly less populated. Looking back, I’m glad I made the move, but I’m also grateful for my time at both.

Anyone who’s currently employed at a larger recruitment agency and is thinking about other options, I highly recommend dropping my colleague Jo Leaver an email on joannaleaver@bcllegal.com.

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