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Proper Responses to a Final Answer Regarding a Paralegal Job Interview

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Now that you been interviewed, interrogated, examined, and polled about your skills, abilities, personality, and attitudes, it's time to analyze and evaluate your initial response to a potential job offer. Perhaps you have never formally assembled this kind of information before and things have just come together for you in a natural, easy fashion. However, the new way of doing things is to prepare yourself for a negotiation by breaking it into logical, digestible, and manageable pieces. Figuring out what is important allows for an easier negotiation. You'll stay grounded and clearer in your thinking.

USING THE ESTRIN JOB OPPORTUNITY INVENTORY CHECKLIST


Use the inventory checklist to see how the potential job stacks up against your personal priorities. Put a check mark (?) in the Personal Priority column next to each item that is important to you. In the next column, indicate how much the item is worth by ranking it from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest. In the Potential Offer column, weigh the offer you are considering by giving it a 1 to 10 rating based on how well you perceive it stacks up against your priorities.

YOUR INITIAL REACTION

Let's face it. Job hunting can be stressful. By the time an offer does come in, you may be ready to say yes just to end the ordeal. But guard against a quick response no matter whether your reaction is positive or negative. It is imperative that you think the offer through.

Few employers expect you to accept on the spot. So whether the offer has been presented over the phone or in person, it's probably best to wait at least 24 hours before accepting. This way, you can sleep on it. If you wake up in the morning feeling the same way, there's probably very little that can change your mind.

Guard against waiting too long to accept an offer also. Waiting a few days may be acceptable for most employers. However, waiting a few weeks may put them off. Upon receiving the offer, you first need to ask the question, "How soon can I get back to you?" Try not to go beyond a week. Employers don't like to stop their recruiting process for very long. It takes too much to ramp up again.

Some employers are put off by candidates who want to wait until all offers are in to evaluate and choose. They want to know that you are enthusiastic about their firm. Others accept the fact that some candidates will have multiple offers and have no problem understanding that they are competing. Frankly, the more highbrow the firm, the less likely they are to understand that a candidate wants to evaluate all offers. Such an attitude stems from something akin to arrogance. After all, they say, we are the Blank & Blank firm. We're the best. Why wouldn't someone jump at the chance to work here?

CASE IN POINT

One paralegal administrator talked to us about an entry-level candidate who wanted to evaluate other offers.The firm, a top firm with 200+ attorneys, withdrew its offer."Can you imagine," sniffed the administrator."An entry-level paralegal who didn't realize just who he had an offer from." One never knows.

Should you ask for an offer letter? Today, many firms and corporations follow up a verbal offer with an offer letter. This letter is not an employment contract. It is merely a letter that outlines the terms of the offer. It will include salary, benefits, and start date.

CASE IN POINT

One paralegal got extremely upset and angry with her potential employer after receiving an offer letter. "Everything we talked about is not in the letter," she said. "You didn't state that I need to take my vacation in July; that I need to leave early on Thursdays; and that you would announce my arrival in the newsletter." Not knowing the difference between an employment contract and an offer letter, this candidate was turned off by the firm.The red flag went up, and her arrival was somewhat tainted. Even though she ultimately accepted the position, she got off on the wrong foot, and die position did not work out

Now that you have analyzed your priorities against the offer, it's necessary to analyze your understanding of how the employer arrived at his or her offer. Do you have all the facts? Do you need more information? Review the Offer Analysis Chart for just a few questions you'll need answered before making your decision.

Offer Analysis Chart
 
  • How did the law firm/corporation arrive at its decision?
  • Do you have a clear picture of where your skills, expertise, level of experience, and education fit within the firm?
  • In what areas of expertise do you compare to the person you may be replacing?
  • How do your background and expertise compare to the original job description?
  • How does the final total compensation figure stack up?
  • Do you know whether you are being offered market rate for your skills?
  • Has the employer articulated when you are eligible for a salary review?
  • How long has this position been available?
  • Has there been a hiring freeze? If so, what impact did the freeze play upon salary and the level of expertise required of a candidate?
  • Do the benefits and perks make up for a less-than-desirable base salary?
  • Is the base salary less than anticipated but the chance for paid overtime an opportunity to earn some nice dollars?
  • What do you have to do to maintain the expectations of the firm regarding salary?
  • Is your future raise or bonus tied to billable hours?
  • Do you know what average billable hours (as opposed to expected hours) are achieved by paralegals in this firm?
  • What happened to the paralegal who was in this position prior to you?
  • Was she promoted? Did she move on? Is this a high-turnover position, or is it newly created?
  • How were things left after the offer was extended?
  • Is the firm expecting you to negotiate?

If you are clear about the terms and conditions of the offer, you are now ready to compare them to your core priorities. By being clear, you will be more centered and able to calibrate terms of the job offer against something valid and stable. If your approach to the offer is void of in-depth self- evaluation, you will probably find yourself swayed by aspects of the offer that might have short-lived meaning and value.

But sometimes there's an offer for a position that is totally the opposite of what you originally intended. If that happens, yet you are excited by this opportunity, ask yourself three basic questions:
 
  1. What was my original intent?
  2. What is acceptable about this offer?
  3. How does that differ from my original intent?

Your next step is to compare this information to your core priorities. The next three important questions to ask yourself are
 
  1. What do I know about the offer?
  2. What must I have? (Criteria that are absolutely not flexible.)
  3. On what can I compromise? (Would be nice to have but really can be flexible.)

And above all, before you accept any offer at all, you must ask yourself the most important critical questions:

What is the downside of this position? and Can I live with it?

If an offer letter is forthcoming, wait until it arrives to fully evaluate your offer. There may be items in it that you had either not understood or not been aware of. In any case, the offer letter will provide a clearer understanding of the offer.

Before you can negotiate your offer, you must understand the employer's point of view. Knowing the goals, needs, and perspectives of the employer will give you a leg up in your negotiations. Review the Offer Analysis Chart to make certain you have the information you need. Here is where it is useful to work with a staffing organization. If they are good, they will know the ins and outs of the firm. They will know weaknesses of the employer and how to get you the best offer.

If you are not working with a staffing organization, however, there are certain things you'll need to know in order to prepare yourself for the actual negotiation. Gathering more information from the employer in a timely fashion could be difficult given how busy everyone is. Furthermore, you need to hit the employer just right. Pestering for information could give a very bad impression and push the employer into reconsidering his or her offer. Not asking enough questions could land you a job that you really don't want.

Plan to use E-mail and faxes as the quickest, least offensive way to gather information. Any exchanges on the phone to get your questions answered should be kept very brief (no more than 10 minutes). If you have a face- to-face meeting, you may want to send your questions along ahead of time in order to prepare your firm's representative and make your time together as substantive as possible.

MAKING THE DECISION TO NEGOTIATE

When an offer finally comes through, you may experience a range of emotions. Regardless of whether you are an entry-level paralegal or one who has battled the Bates-Stamping Wars, the offer will make you feel great. Even if it's not ideal, an offer is a symbolic validation of your professional value. Make certain you recognize the accomplishment an offer represents.

When the afterglow of receiving the offer subsides, the reality sets in that the moment to negotiate has finally arrived.
You can choose to negotiate. Yessiree! You do have the choice not to negotiate!

However, if the offer is not quite right and you decide that you cannot compromise, you'll find yourself going back to the bargaining table. Rarely is there no room for some negotiation. It is almost impossible to have found yourself at the offer stage without some understanding between you and the employer that there are some commonalities. Negotiating for a better offer does not have to mean that you will blow the offer right out of the water.

See the following articles for more information:
 


About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

About LawCrossing
LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.
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Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

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