Handling an Offer

Last week we talked about handling rejection…this week we’ll discuss how to handle an offer! Brad adapted tips and tricks from our favorite book, Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams, for your review.

So, you have received an offer – Huzzah! Now the question becomes: what now?  Well, first of all, this is a great problem to have, so congratulations.  You deserve to be excited; however, the work is not yet over.  Just like you put time into researching employers, preparing your application, materials, interviewing, etc…it is also important to take the time before accepting or rejecting an offer to do it right.  Here are a few tips on how to proceed after you have received an offer.

1) NEVER ACCEPT IMMEDIATELY OVER THE PHONE! Almost all employers expect you to take some time to make a considered decision.  Even if you think this is your dream job, take a step back, breathe, and reflect on the offer.

2) Don’t wait too long. If this is your dream job/internship and you are clear on all aspects of the offer (expectations, hours, pay), do not keep the employer waiting longer than necessary. Go ahead and respond and accept ASAP and rejoice.

3) What if you still have questions? Now is the time to get them answered.  Depending on whether this is a post-grad job offer or a summer position, you may have questions regarding:

  1. Beginning/End Date;
  2. Pay;
  3. Benefits;
  4. Billable hours requirements;
  5. Expectations regarding work hours;

The list goes on and on.  If you have remaining questions, you need to ask and get the information.  It is best to meet in person (lunch or coffee?) but over the phone is acceptable as well. At your meeting, express your enthusiasm for the job and ask the questions you have.  Be delicate about it and avoid sounding confrontational.  If your employer is large, you may be able to get your questions answered by junior attorneys or a recruiter. The point is that you must get your questions answered before accepting; the last thing anyone wants is for you to be blindsided and unhappy.

4) I want it in writing, baby. When you accept the offer, make sure you get it in writing. Do not be adversarial about it, but it is fair to ask when you accept whether you can have something in writing.  Or, when you accept, you can write down the terms yourself and send it as part of a note confirming your verbal acceptance.  This is just to make sure that everyone is on the same page and there is something solid on paper should issues arise down the road.

5) Second-best offer? What should you do if you receive an offer from an employer who is not your first choice? This is a tricky situation and the way to address it depends on number of factors.  This is the most common scenario: you receive an offer from an employer who is not your top choice and you are waiting to hear back from another employer who would be your top choice…what do you do?

  1. First, come talk to a Career Center representative!We are here to help you through these tricky situations.
  1. Second, the waiting game.Generally, I would advise that you thank the Offering Employer (over the phone), express how appreciative and excited that you are for the offer and ask when they would like a response. Can they give you the week – or the weekend? There is no bright line rule regarding how long firms will give you to respond to the offer (unless the employer is a NALP employer – generally the larger firms who participate in Week 1 of OCI – go here for a list of NALP employers and here for a list regarding the rules they have agreed to abide by).  Once you have established how long you have to respond, call your Top Employer and let them know you have an offer and a looming deadline.  This gives them the chance to speed up their decision if they wish to do so.  What do you do next if you can’t get an answer from Top Employer in time?  It is all up to you –are you willing to take the risk or will you settle?  Again, come talk to the Career Center.  We are here to help.

6) You’ve got a ring on it. Once you have accepted an offer, don’t shop around!  You do not want to put yourself in a position where you renege on an offer.  It reflects poorly on you and can come back to hurt you later in your career.  Once you have accepted an offer, relax, stop shopping, and do the best work you can for that employer.

7) Be gracious…always. Whether you are accepting or rejected an offer, always be gracious and express your gratitude for their consideration.  First, it is just good manners.  They have spent time and effort finding you, so the least you can do is thank them.  Second, you always want to keep doors open.  You never know where your career may lead, so always try to keep relationships alive and strong.

This post is adapted from Guerilla Tactics For Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams by Kimm Alayne Walton. This book is an EXCELLENT resource for all stages of the law career search. If you liked this post and are interested in the book, email wilenskym@umkc.edu to discuss.

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