in Employers, Job Applications, Legal Profession

Rogue Recruitment Agencies and Phantom Jobs

Phantom Jobs and Rogue Recruitment Agencies

Very recently the Law Society Gazette published an article online about phantom recruitment agents and jobs. The complaint appeared to be that candidates were attending interviews and then not hearing anything back afterwards. Another complaint appeared to be that recruitment agents were not responding to job applications with feedback.

We commented on the article, which can be found here –, but in relation to phantom jobs and recruitment agencies we have the following points:

The problems of phantom recruitment agents tend to be specifically linked to new start ups. After all, what could be easier than setting up a recruitment agency, registering for a free job board as an employer, making up 30 vacancies, sitting back to wait for the CVs to roll in and then use those CVs to promote your agency to firms in order to get vacancies posted and candidates interviews?

Candidates often complain that recruitment agents haven’t got back to them and as a result the recruitment agent is useless. That may be true – I am sure at times candidates find me to be pretty useless when I don’t get back to them, but unfortunately recruitment is a sales driven business. If we put a CV in for a candidate and then get no response because of the reasons below, we can only pester the firm for so long before we have to leave the vacancy and move on.

Very often the reason vacancies do not get filled is because the firms do not want them to be filled, not because the recruitment consultant has in any way failed in his or her job.
The recruitment agent has possibly bent over backwards to push the candidates through the process, arranged the interview, spent ages getting the firm to agree to go forward, and then the firm bolt down the hatches and refuse to speak to him/her. Over the years I have been in recruitment we have experienced vacancies being withdrawn at all stages of the process (which is perfectly understandable) and also being altered as the recruitment process has progressed (again understandable – circumstances change). However we have also experienced firms where partners have been unable to decide whether to recruit even after advertising, shortlisting, interviewing and second interviewing candidates and as a result the vacancy has fallen through months down the line. Firms have set up 6 first interviews and then offered the job to the first person who came along, practice managers have indicated that they have authority to recruit, gone through the motions and then pulled out because in reality there was no vacancy in the first place. In these circumstances legal recruitment consultants are not the problem. Agencies are very good at pushing the process along – after all most companies only get paid by commission (unlike Ten-Percent Legal who offer unlimited recruitment deals on a monthly basis).

One of the complaints in the article was that some vacancies offer the earth and suggesting that the recruitment consultant has made up a salary range or in some way exaggerated the role. I am sure this happens to a certain extent but very often salary ranges are completely wrong because client solicitor firms do not indicate salary ranges to us when posting vacancies. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment insist that our 99 member firms do provide salary ranges, which can make some of our job advert salary levels extremely accurate, but firms using us on a one-off basis tend to just say ‘negotiable’. When posting the vacancy onto a job board such as the agency is required to enter the salary range. This is why vacancies sometimes have such a broad salary range attached to them like £25k to £60k.

Very often I think recruitment consultants are viewed in the same way as estate agents. Recruitment is considered money for old rope – so is estate agency! However both still exist and at the moment I imagine most agencies in the country are extremely busy – be it recruitment or estate.

When we started out in April 2000 it took us 8 months to make our first placement – with the Abbey National bank as it was then. Unfortunately the candidate left after a few days and it was another 2 months after this before we made our first placement and money started to come in to our bank account.

Recruitment is not as easy as you may think…

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at