I’d like to share a major blunder I made during the negotiation of pay for my part-time legal job I discussed yesterday. I realize that in sharing this you might discount this entire blog because I am such an obvious idiot. However, I will share it anyway in hopes that maybe I’ll save one of you from making the same mistakes (that is right – there were multiple moments of stupidity).
Mistake #1: I was so excited to get a phone call (even for a part-time job) that I forgot the basic rules of negotiation. Never forget in a job interview that you should still negotiate – even if you don’t expect to be paid and you’re just negotiating hours, working from home, or project topics.
Mistake #2: My new boss started the negotiation with “What were you thinking in terms of payment?” And I actually gave him a number. If at all possible, never answer this question! There was no posted compensation for this job so I was in the dark with what my boss was thinking and as a result I completely screwed myself.
Mistake #3: Forgetting that you are a law school graduate. I forgot for a moment that I have actually graduated law school and that I should be paid more than a 2L or 3L for my time. No offense if you’re still in law school but a graduate is worth more even though the work quality might be the same.
Mistake #4: Leaving behind your common sense. I actually did a little research prior to the interview to see what other part-time legal clerk positions were paying. I looked at my school’s job board to see what the other positions were posting for the same type of position. During the interview I actually asked for the highest number I had found on the job board. However, common sense should have told me that the number was still too low and that I should have quoted a number at least $10 higher to start a negotiation (of course, this is assuming that the compensation is by the hour). I only got lucky in the sense that my boss thought my number was so low that he 1) laughed at me and then 2) said he would never pay a law clerk any less so he didn’t negotiate my starting number down.
I know there are more rules to negotiating a salary for a job but I just really wanted to share my recent mistakes and hopefully one of you will prepare and handle your negotiation better.