[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting, sponsor of the Asia Chronicles. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past four years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]
Evan here, writing from a lounge on a short layover at LAX. Robert and I just returned to the US this morning from another exhausting China trip (8+ meetings per day makes for early rises and late evenings), something we repeat about every other month. No surprise, but all indications on the ground, from meetings with various corporate / cap markets partners at top law firms in HK / China, we are still planted solidly in an economic and deal flow boom there.
We have been averaging about 2 US associate or counsel placements per week in Asia so far this year, a blistering pace that can’t continue quite frankly, but is an indicator of how hot the market is right now (see recent Asia Chronicles ATL posts for more details on this hiring boom or do a search at theasiachronicles.com for such info).
Just the fact that Robert and I can set up meetings on short notice with the leading corporate partners of top US and UK firms in HK / China (especially in a boom market where time is at a premium for such persons running multiple big deals on understaffed teams) is a major difference between Kinney and other recruiting firms trying to break into the increasingly hot US associate biglaw lateral hiring market in HK / China. Remember that just about every US and UK firm in HK / China are hiring US corporate associates at this time, so you should not settle for a recruiter / agent who simply is aware of openings and can provide a list of firms and can name a few partners there.
Here are just a few glaring differences between Kinney and other recruiting firms offering services in HK / China markets:
-100+ references of US associates we have placed in HK / China recently, within a few years.
-Our top recruiters don’t only represent partners.
-We provide a long-term agent relationship, lasting years instead of weeks or months.
-Kinney Asia recruiters all split time in both Asia and US markets, thus are able to meet with US based associate candidate clients, meet with top US firm management regarding their Asia strategy, and of course meet with law firm partners and associate candidates in Asia.
We can provide over 100 references of US associates we have placed in HK / China in the past few years. Other recruiting firms can provide no more than a fraction of this number. No other recruiting firm has placed even one third of this number of US associates in HK / China in the past few years.
When a recruiter calls you about China opportunities, I suggest that you ask him / her exactly how many US associates they have placed in HK / China recently? And don’t just take their word for it, ask for references of these alleged placements and speak to (or at least email) at least 10 such persons before you give the recruiter your resume. Why is this important? Well, it is not possible to be fully informed and connected in a market if you are not making large numbers of placements there. Further, while it is always possible for a recruiter to make a few placements and have those persons think highly of them (who knows if higher numbers would be a very negative reference), 100+ references of US associates placed within a few years in a market is fail proof.
Why would you want to put your job search in the hands of a recruiter with just a few or even zero US associate placements in HK / China, verses a recruiter with dozens and more than 30 in the past year?
Our best recruiters work with associates and partner candidates, not just partners. Robert Kinney and I have had success in placing partners and groups in HK / China, but we still work directly with associate candidates, along with our other Asia team recruiters, Alexis Lamb, Yuliya Vinokurova, Danielle Cyr and Peter Guttensohn. I mention this because at most recruiting firms, the best recruiters focus on partners and pass on associate candidates to less experienced and less successful recruiters. Sure, partner placements are much more lucrative, but Robert and I thoroughly enjoy working with and acting as long-term advisors for US associates in Asia and we will not stop doing so. For example, I have made on average about 30 US associate placements per year in Asia, even though I am moving partners as well.
We provide a long-term agent relationship with our associate client candidates, not simply a quick job search and resume distribution service. At Kinney, our Asia focused team starts working with a number of our associate candidate clients months and even years before they are ready for an Asia job search, in some cases those relationships go all the way back to the candidate’s law school years (when we offer advice on which 2L summer spot to take, regarding China practices at particular firms). Of course we also place plenty of US associates who start job searches in Asia immediately upon being referred to us, but many are already long-term relationships when a job search starts. We have also placed numerous US associates a second time in Asia, whether in-house or another law firm after a few years at their first firm in Asia.
Keep in mind that even if you are ready to start an Asia job search right away, even in this hot lateral market it can be a long process for some very qualified candidates. You can’t afford to entrust your job search and representation at various firms to a recruiter who simply emails your resume and hopes for the best. Robert and I, along with our other Asia recruiters, are personally involved in advocating for our candidates over the long-term, if need be. We are close with the relevant partners and can bring up your candidacy in person or by phone whenever it is appropriate to do so. It is not simply a case of emailing a resume and hoping for the best, with only being able to provide administrative services of coordinating interviews. It is quite shocking but that is all you are going to get from the vast majority of recruiters out there, despite what their 10 to 20 minute sales pitch may be upon meeting you.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that once you are submitted to a firm by a recruiter that recruiter unfortunately “owns” your candidacy at such firm for 6 months or more, causing most recruiters to focus on simply being able to make the submission, rather than provide a service.
Our Asia recruiters are on the ground in Asia and US, and all of our Asia team spends time in our New York and Hong Kong offices. It is not uncommon for a NYC based associate to call Kinney to start a job search and within a week both meet a Kinney Asia recruiter in NYC and for that same Kinney recruiter to be advocating for them on the ground in Asia, meeting in person with relevant partners in Asia on their behalf. No other recruiting firm can offer this because quite simply, we travel more than others do and happen to have offices in both US and Asia. We make it a point, for example, to have at least one recruiter on the ground in Hong Kong, 365 days a year.
The Kinney difference is more than just what has been briefly outlined above. Feel free to reach out to us any time at [email protected] for more info.