The Legal Department

What Recruiters Are Looking For In The Legal Department: Edina Beasley And Heather Fine Of Major Lindsey & Africa

The Legal Department | Edina Beasley | Heather Fine | Legal Recruiters

 

Building relationships extends outside of The Legal Department.  In this episode, legal recruiters Edina Beasley and Heather Fine of Major Lindsey & Africa take us behind the curtain to learn what companies are looking for in their next general counsel or chief legal officer.  Heather and Edina share how to build a relationship with recruiters, how to position your LinkedIn profile to get noticed and how to answer tough questions during the recruiting process – including how to negotiate compensation.  

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What Recruiters Are Looking For In The Legal Department: Edina Beasley And Heather Fine Of Major Lindsey & Africa

Heather and Edina’s baseball stats.

I’m Edina Beasley. I’m a Partner at Major, Lindsey & Africa. I focus on senior legal and compliance placements for corporate and nonprofit clients nationwide and internationally. A little bit of detail and background about me, I graduated from law school in 2009 and I clerked for a year. Those are very bad years to graduate from law school. I went straight into legal recruiting and never looked back. One fun fact about me is that I was born and raised in Croatia. I had seven goats growing up. That was fun.

My name is Heather Fine. I am a Partner in the Chicago office of Major, Lindsey & Africa. I also focus on senior-level legal positions in a variety of industries nationally and internationally. I am a lawyer by background. I started my career at Capitol Homes and then moved into the nonprofit world before joining Major, Lindsey & Africa in 2011. I am living in wonderful Chicago, which might be the coldest city on Earth. A fun fact about me is I’m from Scranton, Pennsylvania. We all think that’s fun when we’re from there.

I am excited to welcome two friends whom I’ve known for a little bit, Heather Fine and Edina Beasley of Major, Lindsey & Africa, which I’m sure most of my legal readers will know as one of the largest legal recruiting firms in the country. We’re looking forward to a conversation about a time in 2023 when many of us are reflecting on what we want in the New Year, how the year went, and what we want in our careers. Edina and Heather are going to be great resources for us as we explore that.

Thanks for having us.

It’s great to see you. I want to start. Heather, most lawyers know what a legal recruiting firm does but could you give a high-level overview of the firm, what your scope is, and what your priorities are?

Major, Lindsey & Africa is an executive search firm that focuses on the legal compliance and privacy space. We’ve been around for many years. We have over 200 search consultants globally and 26 offices around the world. The important thing is we focus on that legal compliance and privacy space. We are working with lawyers and companies who are hiring lawyers all day every day. We work with every kind of company. We work with every industry, public, private, and nonprofit. We do a lot of work in the higher education space. If it’s a legal role, we’re your people.

Edina, I’m going to start with you, given that you all talk to so many different folks who are job-seeking for example. I’m trying to get a big picture. Are there any common themes that you find lawyers are looking for in a new role?

Yes, number one is growth. We see growth as the main driver behind career moves and career progression. We’re talking about several things when we talk about growth. It could be growth in terms of compensation. It could be the expansion of one’s portfolio of responsibilities. It could be managing a larger team, getting a step up in title, or being exposed to a new industry. We typically see these factors or a combination of these factors driving career moves and career progression. Cultural fit is another very important factor when considering a career move.

We see that candidates are increasingly looking for companies where they will feel supported and accepted, and where their personal and professional mission aligns with the company mission. Another couple of factors are diversity, equity, and inclusion. People want to be where they’re fully accepted and where they can bring their authentic selves to work. There’s a generational factor to this as well. We see that some of these factors are more important to younger Millennials and Gen Z-ers than some of the older generations. What else? Flexibility. No one wants to go back in five years. Flexibility is a very important factor. ESG as well.

It’s a technical drill point.

Candidates care about the company mission and how invested companies are in the communities where they operate. Those are some of the factors that we’ve noticed.

When you’re exploring a new candidate, one of the first questions a recruiter asks you is this. This is maybe a personal thing but I always feel like, “Are they trying to figure out if I’m about to get fired?” They ask, “Why are you looking?” As I’ve been on the interviewer’s side, I always catch the candidate’s energy like, “Do they stiffen up? Can you tell that they’re going into a prepared answer?” As you’re trying to dig into those themes, are there any key questions that you ask? Do you feel that people have a prepared answer to that question?

Some do and others don’t. We can usually pick up on these things. We would like to see authenticity. We like to hear authentic answers and that people are not running away from something they’re running towards or something exciting, whether it’s a mission or some of these growth areas that we mentioned. Heather, I don’t know if you have anything to add. That’s what I see from my perspective.

I always want to hear two things. I don’t want to repeat what you said but if someone’s running away from something, that’s a little bit of a red flag. We can pick that up pretty quickly and then we’d like to dive in. We then want them to be running towards something. I care a lot about the real motivation. Why this company? When someone’s like, “I want a GC role. I want to manage more people.” I’m like, “Okay, but that’s not about the company.” It should be, at the end of the day. Particularly when you get more advanced in your career, you want to make sure that you’re joining a company for all the reasons that Edina was talking about.

If someone's running away from something, that's a little bit of a red flag. Click To Tweet

That piece is important. Stacy, your point about whether you can tell when someone has prepared, absolutely. That’s good in many ways but we want to get beyond that because we want to know who these people are so that when we are placing them with our clients, we are making sure that it is a good “fit” all around and also on the intangible side. That means we have to get beyond some of the prepared remarks somebody may have but at the same time, make sure that we’re asking all candidates for the position the same kinds of questions and all those good things. There’s some nuance.

I believe in the running towards, not running away from but many times, the situation is a little bit of both. I wonder if there’s a right way or an authentic and appropriate way to talk about the running away part. Honestly, if people were getting the growth, the culture was great, progressing, and all that, they wouldn’t be talking to you. There is something that is not satisfactory in the current role. Do you have advice for folks on how to answer that question authentically but not throw their company under the bus or look like they’re damaged goods or something like that? Heather, if you want to start.

It was funny. You said exactly what I was thinking. One thing you don’t want to do is throw your company under the bus and you don’t want to come off very negative. Some people have been in a bad position for a long time and it’s been too long. They should have gotten out a while ago and did it. Part of this is that you do need to be honest with the search firm. We want to know. The reality is sometimes you’re running away from something because it’s not a good place to be, and that’s okay.

The reality is sometimes you're running away from something because it's just not a good place to be right and that's okay. Click To Tweet

That’s a fair answer to say, “Our culture is not a fit with me.”

“I got a new boss and that was tough. There was a transition. I wanted a specific role and I didn’t get it. I could tell you why but I’ve decided to move on.”

That’s a fair way to answer that. “I thought I was going to get this promotion and it didn’t come through. Somebody else is still going to want to hire me.” That would be some insecurity I would have to tell you that. Edina?

The way I look at it is there are two layers to this, which is what they tell us as recruiters and then what they tell the client so we can prepare them. Even if they’re a little more forthcoming or negative with us, we like to coach people before they go in and speak with the client. We’re not going to misrepresent their motivations or reasoning behind their moves but we can tweak it. We can present it in a way that it’s not overly negative and we can help them tell their story in a more positive going towards something exciting way.

It is okay in those initial calls because it’s very flattering to be contacted by a recruiter. It makes you feel like, “Someone has seen me and they think I might be a good fit for another role.” I want to be clear. It is okay to say to a recruiter, “The new CEO I don’t see eye to eye. I’ve been trying all these different strategies and it’s not a fit. I don’t know how long they’ll keep me.” It’s okay to pull back the curtain with the recruiter.

I think so. You do have to expect that we’re going to say, “Do you have references from that role? Let’s talk a little bit more about this.” It’s all part of building the relationship that we like to do throughout our interactions with candidates because it’s important. This is a personal thing that we get through. These are people’s professions and careers.

Also, their lives.

It helps candidates to be more direct with us. As Edina said, we can help you figure out how best to talk about it. A lot of times, candidates are talking to us for the first time about something difficult involving their job. They didn’t get the role they wanted. That’s the big one. They’re being passed over or they got laid off. They’re working on how to talk about these things. We want to help them be good with that.


The Legal Department | Edina Beasley | Heather Fine | Legal Recruiters
Legal Recruiters: “We can help you figure out how best to talk about it.”

 

With the relationship piece, one of the reasons I did the show was to develop and grow relationships with folks and show other folks in similar roles as me how important relationships are. I used to tell my team, “You need to know people.” It is not just about having technical expertise but you need to have what we used to call a Rolodex.

Go into your contacts. If we need to recruit somebody, I need to know that Heather and Edina are the people we want to call. You have to have resources. I like that perspective. I always think, “They trying to figure out. Are they a PI where they’re trying to see if there is something wrong with her?” What you’re saying is those questions are about building a relationship.

Our process is long. We’re looking at 2 to 4 months to close the role so we truly get to know people throughout our process.

That’s helpful to hear. Let me ask going back a little bit. This might be for Heather. How does somebody get on your radar screen, a candidate? People have said, “You got to have this LinkedIn profile and a picture. You got to keep that updated.” How do you source folks?

Let’s start with our process a little bit and we could talk about how to get on our radar. Our process is long and that’s purposeful. These are big jobs where we’re hiring people and our companies bring us on board to make sure that we’re helping them identify the right candidate. I will say the processes can vary from search firms. It does depend on our client ultimately but generally speaking, we launch a search throughout MLA, which means that we are talking with our colleagues, 200 strong, to say, “Is there someone that you know that could be a fit for this role?”

We start out doing that, and then we have a database with 750 lawyers. We’re using a variety of different online tools to build a candidate pipeline. The other important thing is this is the part of the process where we are thinking about diversity. We want to make sure that we’re presenting very diverse slates. We’re thinking about our networks. We’re talking to organizations that work closely with diverse attorneys. We’ve got strong relationships there. These are all things that we’re doing to build pipelines for specific searches.

I always joke. I’m like, “Our clients like the purple unicorn so we’ll go for the unicorn.” To go quickly, it’s that sourcing process but if you’re interested, there’s an initial screening interview. There’s a deeper dive, which is usually an hour-long behavioral interview. There’s sometimes a candidate questionnaire. We’re talking a lot on the phone with candidates. We want feedback about their interviews. We want updates on what’s going on during the process.

Ultimately, we submit a slate of candidates to the client and we remain with a candidate as that process goes on. In terms of staying on our radar, I said that quickly but there’s a lot more to that. Part of it is that it is good to have a relationship with a search firm and several search firms. We are exclusively retained. We’re not working on the same opportunities that other search firms are working on. You want to make sure that you’re in touch with other search firms but if you want to call us, reach out, introduce yourself, and send your resume, I tell people quarterly to have a touch base. At the same time, to be realistic, we couldn’t spend our entire days just speaking with candidates who weren’t part of our searches because then we wouldn’t get our searches done.


The Legal Department | Edina Beasley | Heather Fine | Legal Recruiters
Legal Recruiters: Part of it is that it is good to have a relationship with a search term and several search firms.

 

There is a balance there. We do not work ultimately for the candidates. Our clients hire us for specific roles. If a candidate is a fit for that role, we will find you and make sure that we’re engaging with you but it is important to be on our radar because we have this database. If you talk to me or Edina, we both can see that the other ones have this conversation. We can learn more about you and your background but I do appreciate it when people continue to give me updates if I’ve had an initial conversation. We talk to a lot of people so it is important to stay engaged with us. Edina, I don’t know if you have other thoughts on that.

One thing to add, I always say this to candidates, and this goes for staying on our radars, “Make it easy for recruiters to find you.”

Say more about this.

It’s fairly simple. Have a complete LinkedIn profile. We do have a database of over 700,000 to 750,000 candidates but we are constantly looking for people on LinkedIn. If you have a nice complete LinkedIn profile, picture, and substantive entries under each of your positions, let’s say going from 10 to 15 years back, you want to have those buzzwords in there. That’s how we find you because we use a LinkedIn recruiter search engine and we search by keywords and buzzwords. It’s very simple.

We see a lot of profiles that aren’t complete. I had this conversation with someone and I was like, “We have this nice introduction but nothing under any of your positions,” so we’re still wondering.

You said complete. If my profile states I worked at this company for five years and it has my title, and then the next company has how long I was there in my title, is that complete or do you want to see underneath some text about, “Led a team of fifteen lawyers at a higher ed academic medical center?” That’s what you mean by complete so it’s not just a list.

It’s not just your position but some substance around what you did in your positions. The important thing, especially if you’ve been in an organization and you’ve grown, you want that substance to show that you’ve grown, to your point about, “Manage fifteen people, interact with the board of directors daily,” or whatever it might be daily.

If you've been in an organization and you've grown, you want that substance to show. Click To Tweet

This is super helpful. I had a friend who’s in marketing and she advised me that I needed to fill out that About section on the profile because that was important. It felt uncomfortable to do that. She is not a lawyer but she was like, “You need to show people who you are and what you care about.” Is that something that you look at other than the stats?

I give it 3 to 5 seconds. It gives me a very quick snapshot of who you are as a professional and that is very important. There are times when I stop at that introductory session in that section and don’t even scroll down further but there are times when that introductory paragraph is what captures my attention and makes me want to dig deeper into your background and experience. It is crucial.

It’s not always a lawyer who’s reading that either because search firms aren’t always retained for big huge positions, usually but not always so you want to make sure it’s understandable. Edina and I are both lawyers so not only to people who are lawyers. That piece is important. What I like to say about the introduction, and I say this about resumes too, is it orients someone to your career. That’s helpful. They read nothing else and they read that introduction. They should have an idea of who you are as a lawyer and business partner.

What about the photo for a long time? This is odd because I have a podcast and I’m out talking to people and all that. I am a private person so for a long time, I resisted having a photo on my LinkedIn. This marketing friend was like, “You’re missing the boat. Most profiles people don’t look at if there’s no photo.” How do you feel about the photo? Where do you come down on that, Edina?

I am guilty of skipping profiles that do not have a photo. It depends on how desperate I am but there are times when I look at someone’s profile and usually, if there’s no photo, the rest of their profile is incomplete as well. It sends a message of how engaged you are, whether you’re going to respond to my message or not. Typically, incomplete profiles and no photo means you’re most likely not going to respond to my outreach. That’s been my experience. I would love to hear about other things.

I agree. The majority of profiles have photos and it’s easy enough to take your headshot and stick it in there. I do think it’s helpful to have photos.

Some folks in more junior roles may not have professional headshots. I’ve read some LinkedIn or influencer guidelines around photos. What are you guys looking for?

A plain professional photo, even if it’s not professionally taken. My best friend who I adore has this amazing job. She is a lawyer. She had a picture of her on the beach with sunglasses. I was like, “Take this off.” This was a few years ago. A nice, professional-looking photo would be great.

I’ll add one thing. During COVID, when I worked from home and my kids were homeschooled, they would sit next to me and they would see me on LinkedIn all day, every day scrolling through profiles. My daughter picked up on this pattern of me responding to some people and not reaching out to others. She would say, “He’s good for the job. He’s not good for the job,” based on the profile photo.

It’s important not to be skipped over. People think, “I was at this wedding. Look how great I looked.” That’s not what you’re looking for.

If you’re asking an advice on what’s nice, it’s nice to have a professional photo. If someone wants to put their wedding photo up there or somebody wants to not have a photo, that’s entirely fine, too. We’re just not looking at them.

That’s very tangible and helpful. Folks can immediately take this feedback, get on to their LinkedIn profile, and make it search-ready. You both referenced the database and I want to understand that a little bit better. I had this experience. This was a long time ago when I was contacted by a search firm for a GC role at a research university, which I was qualified for.

I did not get past the early interview and the recruiter who was a friend of mine said, “You didn’t screen out with our database.” This is a certain level university. They want people who have gone to an Ivy League school. I’m wondering. I was like, “I could have gone to Harvard but I could have also been clerking at a court and not have any clue about what it takes to deal with grants compliance or the technical research issues.” I wanted to hear more about the database. Are there certain things that it screens for? Any kind of secret sauce on how that data analytics is used to source candidates?

Our database is a history. A lot of times, we meet candidates starting in their early law firm years and then candidates as they move in-house. It’s a way for us to look and see, “Four years ago, Edina had a conversation with so-and-so about this particular role. I can call Edina and we can chat about that a little bit.” A lot of it is historical. I cannot answer the questions about the data analytics around the database. Edina may be in a better position but I do think it is a lot in terms of following candidates and their careers. I also think of a way for us to keep very good track of our search process and how candidates will go through that. Edina may have a great explanation.

Our database is not the only place we’re looking. We may miss you, Stacy, when we’re looking for candidates if there’s a certain metric or section of your profile that might have been miscoded in our database but we have other ways of finding you. It’s a combination of things like LinkedIn, networking, or reaching out to organizations in that particular space or industry in addition to our database. We may miss you while we’re running our searches in the database. It’s a combination of things that we use to find candidates.

I’m also wondering. Maybe other people have a perception of a chicken and egg problem like, “Can I get a deputy GC, GC, or a CLL role if I don’t already have that experience?” Maybe the database is the wrong way to look at it. Are there certain things that you must have on your resume or experience to be considered for certain jobs? Maybe it’s client-driven. Maybe with this research university, they only wanted people with an Ivy pedigree, for example.

There’s typically a very long list of things we’re looking for, going back to Heather’s comment about a purple unicorn. It’s a combination of background, pedigree, skillset, and cultural fit. Some of these things are easier to ascertain like the skillset, background, pedigree, and things like that but the cultural fit piece is what Heather and I are digging deeper and trying to figure out if that piece aligns with what our client is looking for.

Stacy, this long list of requirements for each position is client-driven. We do get let’s say deputy GC or General Counsel roles where they’re looking for a sitting general counsel or sitting deputy GC. Other clients are open to considering that broader pool of candidates where they’re DGC or GC-ready. It depends and it is a very much client-driven process.


The Legal Department | Edina Beasley | Heather Fine | Legal Recruiters
Legal Recruiters: This long list of requirements for each position is client driven.

 

The majority of people that we’re talking to are people who are either GCs or interested in GC roles. We constantly get asked the question, “What do I need that I don’t have? How can I get it?” For example, a public company oftentimes wants someone who’s had board experience or public company securities experience. A lot of people have excellent experience but maybe won’t have that exposure to the board. We look at these other things. To Edina’s point, it is client-driven. Some clients will say, “That’s not a big deal.”

Other clients are honed in on that fact. It depends on what’s going on in their business. That’s the same thing with whether or not we need industry alignment with candidates as well. Some clients will say, “We don’t need industry alignment.” Others will say, “We have to have someone from this industry.” To the point about how you get the experience when you don’t have it, we could spend a whole couple of hours just on this.

Part of it is identifying what it is that’s important that you don’t have. You’re not going to be able to have every skill. That’s the big piece, and then it’s figuring out, “Are you in a place where you’re going to be able to ask to get some of those skills?” Some general counsels that are particularly good at growing their team rotate people through certain positions so that they get experience in the things that require you to be GC-ready. We could talk about it for a couple of hours but it’s figuring out what’s most important that you may not have and then figuring out how to get it. Usually, that involves talking with your current boss about how to get it.

I want to drill on that, Edina. Heather’s reflecting the truth in the market that there’s a potpourri of different skills. You can’t have everything. Unlikely you’re going to find that many unicorns. Are there any kind of commonalities that you see employers or companies are looking for in these senior-level legal roles that folks should be able to get wherever they are?

We’ve seen this evolution, especially when it comes to high-level legal roles so GC and CLL roles, which is what Heather and I mostly focus on. There has been this interesting evolution of the GC role and what corporations are looking for in their GCs, especially since COVID. We’ve seen corporations increasingly looking for GCs who are business savvy, able to pivot quickly, someone resilient, and someone comfortable with uncertainty and all this geopolitical turmoil that we’ve been dealing with over the past few years.

Having your top legal leader who’s also business savvy and can help navigate those uncertain times is critical. I would add another thing, people skills, having a legal leader who is human-centric. Stacy, you talked to Aarash Darroodi from Fender, your first episode. He talked about having a strong human-centric leader who can develop relationships and see beyond transactions. Seeing people behind that particular transaction is crucial.

It’s so funny because I agree. I would think the other two things that are important is this idea of risk. How does a general counsel think about risk? That is a key piece. The other thing is we often hear CEOs say this. They want someone who will run into the fire, not run away from the fire, depending on what your business is or what’s going on in the company at a certain time. Also, stay calm under pressure when doing so. There are a lot of things that companies are looking for in their GC and it’s not just someone who’s a lawyer.

If somebody has these skills because I’m like, “I do that,” you’ll learn that in the interview process as we’re building our relationship but how does a candidate communicate that either through their LinkedIn profile or resume? These are leadership skills. How do you promote that or let people know that you have those skills before we even get to a get-to-know-you conversation?

It’s hard. I tell people with resumes all the time, “Your resume has to be authentic. It has to speak to you and you have to be able to talk off your resume.” It’s got to be the things that you’ve done and accomplished. Certainly, the contact you’re having with boards of directors with the management that you’re doing, these specific accomplishments that you’ve had, and the crises you’ve managed, align about those things that are big company initiatives or big management components of your job or that show that you’re working with the senior leadership all the time. That’s important.

If you were somebody whose company was just bought and you led that transaction, that should be on your resume. Those things are important. I always look for the management component, particularly at the GC level. Going back, we want to see the progression too. We want to see what people have done throughout their careers but it is those high-level projects, initiatives, and specific things that you’ve done that are going to separate you and also meet the requirements of what someone might be looking for, a general counsel for example.

It feels like art and science here.

The other thing is it also shouldn’t be too dense. We open resumes all the time that are 6 or 7 pages long.

Let me ask real concretely. If somebody’s been in a career for 15 to 20 years, what is the rule of thumb for how long their resume should be?

I say 2 to 3 pages.

What you did 20 or 25 years ago probably does not matter as much. Put a line. If you were foundationally trained at an AM Law 100 law firm, corporate securities, and general corporate, that’s a one-line entry.

The other thing is you can have a separate deal sheet too. You can have addendums. Lots of people will have pages and pages of their speaking engagements. That’s good but that should not be pages and pages that are part of your resume.

It’s like a supplement sheet.

There should be highlights. Sometimes people have community involvement, speaking engagement, and writing. The other thing is with the higher ed, for example, those resumes are going to be longer. There are certain times when resumes will look a little different but remember that you have to keep your audience. You don’t want something dense and six pages long.

My marketing friend said that the younger folks put pictures on resumes. Is that a good idea? Edina is shaking her head no.

I typically ask candidates to remove their photos. I don’t know. What about you, Heather?

I don’t see too much of it anymore. I don’t see a lot of it. When I do, I don’t necessarily tell them to remove it but I don’t think it’s necessary. The other thing is people always ask, “Should we use a resume writer?” Whatever makes you feel most comfortable but at the end of the day, there shouldn’t be too many bells and whistles on the resume. People are looking to try to find the basics of where things are.


The Legal Department | Edina Beasley | Heather Fine | Legal Recruiters
Legal Recruiters: People always asking so should we use a resume writer? Whatever makes you feel most comfortable. But at the end of the day, there shouldn’t be too many bells and whistles on the resume.

 

Make it easy for the reader. Now that we’ve gotten our job and our resume together, we’ve charmed you two, and you’ve helped coach us through our client interviews, it’s at the point where we’re getting an offer or exploring comp and a comp discussion. Folks can have anxiety about that. They don’t know the right thing to do. Are there any pitfalls or advice for that sensitive part of the recruiting process, Edina, that you could share?

Heather and I love talking about compensation. We can create an entirely separate segment. Number one, be prepared. Do your homework. Talk to search consultants. For Heather and I, it’s very easy for us to pull some numbers and provide that to a candidate. It’s a free resource that we can provide.

When you say free resource, MLA has a salary survey?

Yes, we conduct in-house salary surveys every two years and we’re in the process of kicking off our 2024 survey. Both Heather and I are on that team. You need to be prepared. Talk to search consultants. Look at comp surveys. For more complex compensation packages, especially at that higher level executive level comp packages, you may need to hire a professional to help you walk through that compensation package so you fully understand each element of the package.

What type of professional would somebody hire a candidate hire? Where would they find that person?

It would be an executive compensation attorney. Also, how to negotiate. There are some clear do’s and don’ts. Number one, negotiate reasonably. It’s okay to negotiate. There’s a level of anxiety and discomfort usually associated with it but it is your career and your future. It will impact you and your family so it is expected. Negotiate reasonably. Avoid surprises.

It is your career. It is your future. It will impact you and your family so it is expected. So, negotiate reasonably. Click To Tweet

Make sure, if possible, that you’re aligned on what the comp range is, what the components are, and what you’re looking for. Understand your breaking point. If you cannot get to where you need to be in terms of comp, you need to be ready to walk away. Don’t counter aggressively. Be reasonable in your counter. Respect the timeline. I’ve seen clients pull offers once that offer expires. I’ve seen it happen.

That would be rough like, “I was ready. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”

We’ve seen all kinds of things, especially in the past couple of years. We’ve seen it all. It’s also important to negotiate. Put all of your asks, if possible, in one email or one conversation because negotiating piecemeal is frustrating. It wastes everybody’s time. Another huge time waster is when candidates counter and get what they’re asking for and then change their minds and don’t accept the offer. That is probably one of the most frustrating things for us.

It must be embarrassing for you guys if that happens.

I always say, “Transparency is key. Communication is key. Please talk to us.” It makes us and the candidate look bad. The legal community is small. You don’t want to burn those bridges. It’s very important to be respectful and reasonable when countering.

I want to hear more. When you say reasonable, that could be in the eye of the beholder.

Edina said everything. This is our thing. We say the same things. I almost had an offer pulled when someone kept going back. The only other thing I want to add before we talk about reasonable is this idea of a counteroffer. If you think your company is going to go ahead and give you a counteroffer that you’re going to take, don’t waste everybody’s time and do a huge negotiation. Be very candid with us about that because that happens a lot, too.

Reasonable plays into what the compensation culture is in a specific organization. If they’re heavy on equity, for example, and you have a huge ask on the cash, that’s not going to be very reasonable. You should know through your conversations with me and Edina whether or not that’s the case. If it’s heavy on cash and low on equity, you’re not going to ask for a much larger equity grant when the cash is where you should focus. You’re also not going to come in and ask for $100,000 more. There shouldn’t be that huge gap.

There should have been enough of a conversation around candidates’ expectations on compensation that were not too far apart. We advise our clients too. There are times when they’ve told us a range and they come in the wrong place in the range. We worked with them around that because we knew that the candidate was going to be frustrated. There’s a lot of give and take there.

Reasonableness depends on the client and what kinds of conversations we’ve had with the candidate. By the time the offer phase comes, we should have been very transparent and candid about where things are. We’re not asking people to tell us their compensation. Generally, we should have given a range. Everybody should know what that looks like. If you’re above it, we should know that. We should have had those conversations with the client so that there were not too many surprises during the offer stage.

As somebody who’s a hiring manager, on the other side of the table, the way folks behave during those negotiations gives me, “Are they going to be a pain in the neck once they work for me? Are they if they nickel and dime?” You think you’re done and then they throw in the next three things. It erodes my trust in somebody. I wonder if you have thoughts about that.

I always tell the candidate, “This is your new employer.” If all works out, you want to start on the right foot. You don’t want a nickel and dime. You don’t want to go back and forth. You don’t want to take too long to respond because they’re going to question your decision.

Yes, “Do you really want this?”

You have to have some trust. Some things may not be written down that it’s going to be okay and they’ve said that they’re going to do it. You don’t need to have that particular thing on a piece of paper. If this is not the opposing counsel, that is important. A lot of people say, “They want me to negotiate.”

Kind of but not to the point of too much.

“They want to see my negotiating skills.”

I took pages and pages of notes. This is a peek behind the curtain of the recruiting process and everything. I appreciate you being here. As an avid follower of the show, I know you know my last question. What is your pump-up song? Edina, go first.

Lose Yourself by Eminem.

That’s a solid, for sure.

Mine is so not creative but it’s Eye of the Tiger. I grew up in Pennsylvania so Rocky.

I did an episode with Joe Schohl, who you may know was former GC of DaVita and Radiology Partners. He also picked Eye of the Tiger so you’re in good company. Thank you so much for being here. I enjoyed the conversation. For the audience, I hope you got some good nuggets to take you into the New Year 2024.

Thanks for having us.

 

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