You’ve interviewed with a firm or company and it looks like the perfect next step for your career. The firm/company has hinted that an offer is imminent, and you are expecting an offer any day. Congratulations! Here are five things to remember if you are about to make your first career move, or if you haven’t made a move in a while.
1. Be Sensitive to Time
Be prepared to respond in a timely manner. There is no set time to respond to an offer but sooner is always better. How would you like the offeree to respond if you were making the offer? Some attorneys take weeks to respond to a formal offer – and that is a mistake. Most people usually respond with an answer the next day but taking a few days to consider an offer is also a reasonable time period. If you are passionate about the position, you may want to accept an offer immediately. Accepting an offer on the spot can signal to your new employer how excited you are about the opportunity and set a nice tone for your new work relationship. If you are interested in accepting immediately, discuss a potential offer with your spouse or partner so you can accept the offer immediately if the terms are agreeable.
2. Give Proper Notice
If you decide to accept an offer, you’ll want to inform your current employer as soon as possible. Your goal is to make your departure amicable. Thank them for the time and your experience with them. If asked, be prepared to offer a positive but brief reason for your departure. For example, the firm/company you are moving to has a need for someone with your expertise or your billing rates are more in line. Be prepared and stay positive. Even if you have been miserable at your job, it is likely not in your best interest to tell off your employer as you leave. There may be circumstances where it is necessary or appropriate to give feedback but stay professional. The main goal is to one day be able to refer work back and forth and to keep a network in place with your soon-to-be former colleagues.
3. Be Mindful of Ethical Obligations
There are likely ethical duties or requirements associated with your move. For example, if you are moving from one firm to another firm, you will likely need to inform clients of your move through a joint letter. Carefully consider other duties you may have toward your soon-to-be former employer. Consult an ethics attorney if you have questions.
4. How Long to Stay
The professional standard for a period of notice is two weeks. However, you need to be prepared for your current employer to ask for more time or to insist on less. Often, firms and companies will ask for a longer departure time to find someone else to take your position or to wrap up matters. Weigh the reasonableness of the request but keep in mind that after you have given notice your work environment might become cold and uncomfortable. Try to keep your departure time to two weeks. In other situations, an employer might request you leave right away.
5. Enjoy It!
Moving can have some stressors, but it can also be wonderful! Don’t forget to enjoy the next step in your career and celebrate it. Plan a nice dinner with your family or friends at your favorite restaurant to toast your new job. Changing jobs can be incredibly refreshing. Many attorneys report feeling energized and more excited about work after a move.
Notes for Firms and Companies:
Stay Positive: If an employee gives notice, handle it gracefully. Although a departure can create an inconvenience, it is best to wish your soon-to-be former employee the best of luck in their next step.
Keep the Family in Mind: Spouses and partners are often a vital part of the decision- making process on whether someone accepts an offer. If you are serious about recruiting an attorney, don’t ignore their family. Invite the spouse or partner of the attorney you are recruiting to dinner with one of the partners.
Be Sensitive to the Situation: If someone accepts an offer to join your firm or company, be sensitive to how hard it might be for them to leave their current place of employment. Ask when they will be giving notice to their current employer. Send them a note or even a gift basket the day they give notice. Remind them how excited you are that they are joining your team. Natalie Thorsen