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Choosing Between Jobs

One problem that everyone wants to have is deciding between two or more job offers.  However, this can actually be a very emotionally challenging problem.  Agonizing over two equally good jobs is difficult; it helps to “make a list” of the pros and cons of each job, but what factors should be important in choosing the right position?

As an experienced attorney recruiter, I often see how this choice plays out for attorney candidates.  When candidates are torn between positions, there are often some factors which may provide the answer.  Not all law jobs in California are created equally, so attorney candidates can use the following information to decide between the right position and a position that may just be ok.

  • Location, location, location.  Remember that the location of your job offer is just as important, if not more so, than the salary.  What looks like a large salary in Washington, D.C., or New York City will not go as far as the small salary you are offered in Topeka, Kansas.  However, if you want to work in a Wall Street firm or for an international law firm in the nation’s capital, a job in Topeka will not meet your goals.  You must decide where you want to work and narrow your choices based on your preferences.
  • Salary.  Salary is actually composed of far more than money.  In order to get a true picture of the compensation you are being offered, you must include factors such as benefits and the number of hours you are expected to work.  If a firm offers a high salary but expects 120 hours of work per week, you should take a look at the quality of life you desire.  If you have a new baby at home you'd like to see, you may be better off accepting a job with a lower salary and more time off.  Similarly, jobs with no health insurance or retirement are likely to yield a much lower standard of living, even with higher salaries, than jobs that offer these benefits. As a skilled legal recruiter, I often advise candidates to consider this point carefully.
  • Climate.  You must determine your own temperament when it comes to corporate climate.  For example, you may wish to work in a large, high-energy firm where deadlines are always looming.  On the other hand, you may wish to work in a small, laid-back firm where people take their time.  Normally, larger firms are more eager to higher new talent but there is also great competition for promotion.  A smaller firm may offer better opportunity; however, some small firms are so stagnant that upward mobility is impossible.  Consider your goals carefully before you decide on the firm in which you are interested.
  • Purpose.  You might want to consider a position in a general law firm to gain valuable experience in many areas, but some attorneys want a job in a specific field.  You may have to make a decision between your “dream job” and a more pedestrian position using the other criteria for job evaluation.