Like a really good date, the recruitment process may contain a certain amount of nervous energy and infatuation. It should. If both sides aren't enthusiastic from the outset, I usually urge the client and candidate to end to the courtship early.
Most successful placements are made before the love fest ever begins and are the result of properly managing everyone's expectations. If you don't have a good recruiter who knows how to get the right couple to the altar, you need to do a little soul searching and be honest with yourself. While there are many expectations to manage, here are the most important:
If you are a general counsel, you shouldn't pursue a star hire unless you can offer that person stimulating work, business clients who can work with such high-caliber talent and a plan for how that person will progress within your department. If you have a nice, low six-figure staff attorney opening, but little realistic room to move that person up your particular pyramid, hire a solid person with good credentials who wants to work hard and also maintain a life away from the office. That's not settling. It's a happy marriage.
If you're the candidate, it's much easier to manage expectations when you aren't actively seeking a new position. Attorneys who are employed and happy will only pursue the openings that make sense. But if you are in the unemployed or miserable camp, you must fight the natural temptation to think, "I can make it work." Guess what? If the pay range is $140,000 to $160,000, you will not make them fall in love with you and say "yes" to $180,000. If the job is in Birmingham, it's in Birmingham. They won't say yes to telecommuting or pay for you to fly home to Atlanta every Thursday night.
Love the job the company has to offer, or don't take it. Trying to change a job once you've already accepted it is just like trying to change your spouse six months after saying, "I do." You may have some success at the margins, but you will make everyone unhappy and end up divorced.