The Good Candidate

Too many jobs are chasing too few candidates. Some predictable results: (i) good candidates are receiving multiple offers; (ii) candidates are requesting more time to respond to offers so they that can play out other potential opportunities; and (iii) employers are frustrated at having their offers rejected and at having to grin and bear it as candidates flex their muscles by negotiating sweeter packages. There's no doubt about it. Candidates have the leverage. But, the really good candidates know how to exercise that leverage without creating ill will. Managing a job search in a world of multiple opportunities can be nearly as challenging as finding a job in a tight market

The first rule of the road is to be open and honest with both the headhunter and the employer about the status of other opportunities you are considering. Lawyers have a natural inclination to keep information close to the vest. But it would be a mistake to view future potential employers as the "other side." You won't be compromising your negotiating position by letting them know where you stand with other options. Sophisticated clients won't be offended that you are looking at other jobs. You gain nothing by keeping them guessing. The last thing you want to do is burn a bridge with a company or a law firm that you have interviewed with. The quickest way to set fire to that bridge is to surprise them at the end of the line by taking another offer they had no idea existed. They'll forgive you for taking another position if they felt you were open and honest with them. They'll resent it if they feel you toyed with them.

Keep your headhunter in the loop. This accomplishes two things. First, your headhunter can be a valuable channel of communication to help you convey your level of interest in a particular position. Second, (from our purely selfish perspective) you do your headhunter a favor if the client realizes the headhunter is aware of where "you're at" in the process.

Communicate bad news yourself. If you are going to reject an offer, do it yourself and thank the employer for their time and interest in you. It's bad form if they find out from a third party that you have taken another job. They'll blame you first if they get surprise bad news. Then they blame us.

Don't accept one offer and then, when communicating your rejection of another offer, leave the door open for the rejected party to make a counter. Stick to your original decision. You don't just burn a bridge by accepting an offer and then reneging, you blow it to smithereens.

At the end of the day, the way you manage multiple job opportunities is really a reflection of your professional judgment. This market won't last forever, and when things turn, you'll want your reputation intact. The offer your reject today may turn out to be the job you need tomorrow.


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