Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Friday, May 02, 2008

Legal job offers in the current market conditions

02 05 08 Job offers in the current legal job market

A case emerged yesterday in our company where an interview had been arranged at quite high speed with a firm who were very keen to take on a recently qualified solicitor in a high street field. We arranged the interview, and had a further five or six enquiries from other candidates and as soon as the interview had finished, the firm made a job offer as they were very impressed in the quality of the candidate. They offered the post at £3000 more than the candidate had asked for and asked for a quick response. We phoned the candidate and emailed the job offer through and got a response back that she would think about it and also had other interviews to attend in other areas of the country.

When we enquired further, these interviews had been arranged it seemed out of desperation through lack of job interviews or offers in her home area. However she did not want to give them up and she was worried about accepting the first post that came along.

Our advice in recent years would have been to wait, attend the other interviews and see what the outcome was. However in the current climate at newly qualified and recently qualified level it is important to take into consideration the market and the possibility that if you do not accept a post that is at the level or higher than you requested in the area that you were looking for that it may disappear again as fast as it came up. The market is no longer a sellers market, it is a buyer, i.e. the law firms are in the driving seat and the candidates are selling their wares and needing to sell them well in order to get a post.

If it happens to you and you find that you are offered a legal job by a law firm as a recently or newly qualified solicitor and you have not had anything else in recent months, perhaps been made redundant or heard of redundancies in your current firm, it is important to consider very carefully any offer that comes in at such a level as it may be that it disappears again as fast as it was offered.

Some candidates do not believe that firms will withdraw offers if an acceptance is not forthcoming at fairly high speed, but it happens every year. We have seen it happen to candidates looking for salaries of £75,000 as well as candidates looking for salaries of £20,000. Sometimes pride comes before practicality and some firms are almost reluctant to make offers and hold them open to candidates who are thinking about it for quite a period of time. I must confess myself that at times I’ve made job offers and somebody has thought about it for a long time and this has made me think that maybe they’re not as interested as I thought they were, whereas from the candidate’s perspective they might just feel they’re being responsible and taking time to think about things, might end as understandable. However, often in recruitment it is a feeling or perception that progresses job offers and acceptances or hinders them or removes them.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk). He regularly commentates and writes on the state of the legal profession, and legal job market and legal recruitment. For press comment or for free legal careers advice, please email him at cv@ten-percent.co.uk or call 0207 127 4343.

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