Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to evaluate a job offer

Once you've got a job offer, the next question is whether you should accept it. According to  ATL's Lateral Link column, here are the top three considerations when evaluating that job offer:

1. Compensation and benefits. Everyone wants to get paid what they think they are worth. And depending on the job, you may be able to negotiate your salary. But if a new job ends up offering you a salary that is significantly less than your current job, consider whether there are additional benefits that will compensate for the drop in pay.

For example, if work-life balance is important to you, inquire about flexible working arrangements such as flex-time and telecommuting. If you’re in search of a more family-friendly place, then the benefits at the top of your list may be a generous parental leave policy, a phase back into work with reduced hours, and an on-site child-care center. Sometimes the benefits, like a job with no billable hours or working in a city with a better quality of life, are less tangible but still substantial. Only you can determine for yourself if the non-monetary benefits outweigh a lower paycheck.

2. Fit. Fit encompasses everything from the work culture, personalities of prospective coworkers, and the employer’s values. You may be able to get some sense of whether a job will be a good fit from an interview, such as whether you jell with the attorneys with whom you would be working and how casual the work environment is.

But if you feel you don’t have enough information from the interview alone, ask to speak with additional attorneys, and don’t be afraid to ask candid questions. However, you should refrain from asking awkward questions like, “Are people happy here?” If you really want to know how hard people work, it’s better to ask targeted questions about hours billed vs. hours worked, what time people generally leave the office, how much vacation time people use, face time requirements, etc. For some people, a new job will be just another job with the same salary and same type of work, so fit can make a big difference in terms of job satisfaction.

3. Career path. If you haven’t given much thought to what your career goals are, now would be a good time to do so. Once you have a clearer idea of where you’re heading, you should be able to identify which jobs will give you the skills and experiences you need to get there. For example, if you plan on going in-house at a major corporation but lack any securities experience, make sure that your new job will enable you to grow in that area by providing you with that type of work. There’s no point working at a firm that has a well-known securities practice if it limits you to M&A work only. And although there are no guarantees that you’ll ultimately make partner or become general counsel in the future, you can increase your chances for advancement by choosing jobs wisely.

Do your research about the firms you are interested in and find out what the partnership prospects are, if there’s a strict up-or-out policy, and how well the firm keeps associates apprised of their progress towards partnership. Or if working your way up to GC is your goal, you may want to pass up a position at a company where the current GC is young and unlikely to retire in the near future.

For more advice, continue reading here.



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