The Truth and Nothing But the Truth After an Offer

Recruiting can be a frustrating business at times. You try your hardest to be honest and forthcoming with candidates and you work hard to build the candidate’s trust in you. But the favor is not always returned. For some reason, there are candidates we work with who believe that it is in their best interest to keep information from us and from employers. While I imagine this is usually coming from a place of trying to minimize the risk of sending the wrong message to a firm or recruiter (e.g. trying to avoid sending the message that you are not really that interested because you have other options), from my perspective, I believe that this strategy usually backfires.

When I counsel attorneys on effective interviewing strategies, I always advocate a policy of telling “the truth and nothing but the truth”. But I always add that “you don’t have to tell the entire truth.” In other words, when you are communicating with a prospective legal employer, not every detail of your professional life is relevant.

For example, suppose you worked at a small firm for three months prior to joining your current firm. While you need to disclose this to a prospective employer (minimally in a cover letter and possibly in your resume), it is not necessary to tell a future employer that you left this firm because the partner you worked with was the biggest @#%!& you ever met. As long as you disclose one of the “real” reasons for making the move (e.g. that the new firm seemed to have a deeper practice), you are not obligated to bad mouth the jerk you left behind.

But let’s say you have received an offer from a firm and you are trying to sort through your best options. If you tell the firm that you just need a week or so to think things through, that is usually fine. But if the firm asks you if you have any other offers and you reassure them that you are only considering that firm, you will potentially do a lot of damage to the trust you may have built up with that firm (and with the recruiter if you are working with one) if it turns out you were actually juggling multiple offers.

Leave a Comment

four × five =