4 Ways to Help You Decide Whether to Accept A Job Offer

By Hillary Mantis

If you are lucky, you are in a position that everyone wants to be in — you have received one or more job offers.

But getting job offers can create its own stress. Should you accept? This can be tough, especially if you have time constraints, or if you have multiple offers. For those who have had callbacks, you might be in this position.

It sometimes seems as if your whole future is riding on what decision you make. But there are ways to de-stress and break it down so that job offer related decisions are easier.


1. Think About Your Immediate Future: Is this the job you want right now?  Because you are not sure what type of law you want to practice ultimately, but it’s an offer on the table? Because it pays well? Because you don’t want to risk not receiving other offers? Because you liked the interviewers and the office? Short-term reasons for taking a job are fine, in my opinion. You can’t predict the future anyway — who knows where you will want to live in future years, or what practice area you will ultimately want to be in — so making the decision for the here and now can be a good reason to take a job offer, especially early in your career.


2. Think About Your Long-Term Future: Is this a job you can see yourself in long-term? Is this a firm or other employer that typically makes permanent offers, if it is a summer associate position? While lawyers do change practice areas, even mid-career, if you are lucky enough to be one of those people who is sure what type of law you want to practice, it will be easier if you can get into the field right away.


3. Think About What You Really Want: I sometimes advise students not to discuss their job offers with too many people, especially if they have multiple offers. Even if they are well meaning, too many opinions from friends and family can really confuse you. They might think it’s a great offer, but deep inside you know that it is not the right decision for you. At some point you have to go with what you think is right for you — and if it doesn’t turn out to be your dream job, you can move on later. First positions out of law school are often harder to obtain than lateral moves. You are the one who will be waking up every morning and going to work—so pick the job that will make you happy — even if not everyone you talk to agrees.


4. What if you Still Can’t Decide? I often think that if you can’t make a decision, it means that you need more information. Try and talk to more people who actually work there, or used to work there. Research the employer(s) beyond their website. Go back and visit again if you can, or at least talk to them on the phone if you have additional questions. They want you to accept their offer — so it’s fine to ask more questions, or negotiate for what you want, as long as you remain positive about the offer.


Hillary Mantis works with law students, pre-law students and lawyers. She is the director of the pre-law program at Fordham University and author of “Alternative Careers for Lawyers.” You can reach Hillary at altcareer@aol.com.