Mention to friends that you have several firms all vying for your talents, and you’re likely to be met with eye rolling and the sound of the world’s smallest violin playing. But those faced with several job offers will have many a sleepless night while they try to make a decision that will impact their future careers and their daily working lives.
Nor is this situation unusual in law. There is a real shortage of excellent candidates out there, with law firms requiring a huge range of skills across all business functions. This results in fierce competition for the best talent.
Tips for success
So if you find yourself in this position, how should you play it?
While it is obviously flattering to know that you are in demand, remain professional, honest, and be wary of seeming arrogant. Frank negotiation is the key; duplicitous dealing is to be avoided. It may be tempting to pit the firms who want you against each other to see who will come up with the highest salary, but that becomes transparent – firms may well wonder if money is your sole motivation for working for them.
Holding out for the biggest salary may not be in your best interests either. This new role will be how you will spend a large part of your life, hopefully for several years to come.
Often your gut instinct will direct you. If one offer feels more right than the other, then it probably is. But you need to keep a level head and go through a process of assessing each offer in a rigorous way.
- Where will this job take me in one year, five years, more…?
- Look at the direction the firm has taken over the past few years. What does its future look like? Does that fit with your aspirations?
- What is the overall benefits package (gym membership, annual leave, private healthcare, flexible working)?
- What is the culture like?
- Will any further training be necessary, and is it available should I want it?
- Will I be working autonomously for most of the time or as part of a team? Does that suit my working style?
- What is the management style of the leader? My line manager?
- What will the commute involve? Will I need to relocate to make the commute more practical?
- Is business travel involved?
- What out-of-hours networking will be expected?
There’s another dilemma that may also arise. What if you receive an offer from a firm for a ‘good’ job but you are still waiting to hear if you have been successful for your ‘perfect’ job at another firm you have interviewed with?
This is a tough call. It is possible to ask for more time to think about the offer. Asking for it in writing can get you more time and is good practice anyway. But the firm can’t be expected to wait indefinitely, and they may start to question your enthusiasm for the role. It is sometimes hard to speed up the process on the other side – decision makers may be away, budgets may still be being signed off, for example. But they will usually do what they can if they don’t want to lose a strong candidate.
If your ‘perfect’ firm can’t get back to you within the necessary time-frame, then you may need to look at how well the job offer in hand meets your wish-list. Be honest about whether you have been too idealistic in your requirements in the first place. If the offer isn’t ideal, you may be able to negotiate on some elements, or if you had your heart set on certain opportunities that aren’t apparent within the role, ask how the firm might grow in the future to provide them. But if the process is leaving you with a heavy heart, then it probably is worth holding out in the hope of an offer from the perfect firm.
Always communicate regularly and candidly with your recruiter. They can act as a broker, working on your behalf to come to an acceptable deal. But to do so, they need you to be as honest as possible form the start. If there are certain aspects of the role that concern you, it is better to discuss them upfront. This avoids big surprises at the end and can even help shape the eventual offer.
You need to be certain in your final decision. There is nothing worse for all concerned for a new hire to leave within a short space of time. It is stressful for you, and wastes the time and resources of the firm. Do as much research as possible about the firm and its culture, and see if there are opportunities to network with those already working there. Have a range of questions to ask at the interview and feel free to probe for further clarification. It needs to be a two-way process if both parties are to benefit from their new hire.