First, congratulations are in order: Having two amazing job offers to choose between is a great problem to have.
Of course, it’s still a problem; choosing one means rejecting the other, which can be incredibly stressful. This is especially true for young lawyers, who will be shaped by their first jobs. But it’s also the case for all of us – no matter how you look at it, this is a big decision.
There are, however, ways to evaluate both offers that can help you determine which is the best fit for you. And no, salary isn’t necessarily the most important factor.
Here’s how to start:
Make a List of Pros and Cons
The very first thing to do once you’ve received a pair of competing offers is to make a list of the pros and cons of both jobs. Such a list can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings about each job. Is one firm more prestigious than the other? Is one opportunity a better match for your skillset? Is compensation at each primarily lockstep or eat-what-you-kill, and which do you prefer? While choosing between offers is a largely subjective task, writing out the pros and cons can help you feel more confident about your decision.
Analyze the Hiring Process
A firm’s hiring process can provide insight into what it’s really like to work there. When considering competing offers, think about what the process was like at each firm. Was there anything that stood out about one versus the other? Did one offer come quickly after a thorough and orderly interview process, while the other came after a confusing or dragged-out period? Either could be an indication about how the firm is run. If one firm’s process was unpleasant, that’s grounds to wonder whether that’s what it would be like to work there, too.
Speak to Current and Former Staff
Speaking of what it’s like to work somewhere, the lawyers who have actually worked there are best equipped to shed light on culture, leadership, and overall firm experience. So get in touch! If the hiring manager has offered to set you up with a current associate to discuss their time at the firm, take them up on it. If not, reach out to anyone in your network who has worked at each firm or could introduce you to someone who does. Ask them about the reality of working at the firm, and what they would have wished they knew before they started.
Remember That Money Isn’t Everything
After all, it would be a mistake to pick the higher paying job, but quickly realize the culture isn’t a fit or the work is unsatisfying. What are the non-salary benefits that each role offers? Does one give you the opportunity for more international travel, or the ability to work in multiple practice areas? Are the people you’ve met with at one firm more interesting than the other? Which role will most benefit your personal and professional development? On top of salary and bonus structure, non-financial features like these can help one job become more appealing than another.
Finally, Trust Your Gut
As a lawyer, it can be hard not to overanalyze every little thing. Instead, trust in yourself and your gut reactions. In fact, it can be helpful to write your first impressions down quickly after your interviews so you don’t forget anything or let your thoughts be swayed by others. Did you get the sense that anything the firm said during the hiring process was insincere? Or were you concerned your working style might not be a match for those you met with? Your instincts are likely going to point you in the right direction. Don’t ignore them.
Remember: Having to choose between two great offers is an enviable position. While it can be stressful, it’s an advantage to be able to evaluate opportunities and select the fit that’s best for you. And one more thing – don’t forget to keep both firms in the loop while you take the time to consider your options. There’s no shame in pausing before accepting an offer, but it’s critical to continue to show interest as you work toward a decision.