In the job search context, bad news can come in many forms. While news that may seem bad is often just a statement of reality, it still can sting. The key is to understand how it will be perceived by the audience so the delivery can tempered appropriately.
As a recruiter, it often starts with an inquiry by a potential candidate about opportunities in the market. There is nothing wrong with changing practice areas but when a PI attorney wants to jump to IP, it does no good to provide false hope about the odds of making such a transition. In fact, most of our candidates want honest input and appreciate our assistance in assessing their likely prospects. For us, it continues when someone is passed over for an interview or job offer. We try to share as much information to justify the employer’s decision. They possibly lacked some essential skill, experience or someone else was more qualified. It helps if you can share that other people were passed over as well so they know it is not just them. Of course, this scenario is played out by employers directly too. As uncomfortable as it may seem, candidates typically want to know where they can improve for future opportunities and will appreciate your candor.
Candidates may also find themselves in a situation where they have to deliver news that an employer may not want to hear. It is not uncommon for our candidates to have multiple job offers. The employer(s) that were not chosen need to be informed of the decision. Taking into account the time and effort an employer spent in the process, this news should really be delivered directly by the candidate. Again, the key is in how this information is delivered. Ideally, this person can point to specific reasons (better practice fit, more money, etc.) so the employer can understand the decision – or at least know why you made that decision whether they agree or not.
In a relatively small legal market, it is important not burn to bridges and that can often happen in the job search process. Someone may not like the news you’re delivering but will generally appreciate a candid response and is less likely to hold a personal grudge if you can explain your decision.