Dealing with counter offers

Most candidates will at some point during their working career face the prospect of receiving a counter offer. And knowing their worth and what to do with one can result in some uncertainty. So we’ve shared our simple guide about dealing with counter offers below.

Women shaking hands

Handing in your notice

So you’ve found a new job, gone through the interview process and have received a job offer – either directly from the employer or their HR team, or via a recruitment consultant. Congratulations! Now comes the tricky task of handing in your notice. Obviously how tricky this is, depends on how integral you are to your current role or company. But after working anywhere for a period of time, you’ll have typically built relationships, made friends and it can be emotionally difficult to hand in your notice.

Some employers will appreciate that workers will from time to time choose to move on to pastures new, whether that’s for improved career opportunities they can’t offer, improved salary and benefits, or any other reason. It has to be expected that these days, jobs aren’t for life and that people will choose to move for any one of a variety of reasons. Most employers will accept this and will have succession plans in place so that no one individual will be indispensable.

However, occasionally, employers will be really reluctant to see one of their team leave. They’ve invested time and resources in developing individuals, and these people will be familiar with the company’s systems and processes, so the thought of them walking out the door can also be daunting for an employer.

In these instances, employers may attempt to counter offer the worker and tempt them to stay where they are. They can ask why someone is moving and what’s tempting them away and then attempt to match or better what’s on offer, or promise to resolve the issues that are causing that individual to want to move. And that’s the crux of any counter offer. Deciding whether to accept a counter offer is a personal choice that only the worker can make, but we’ll explain a little more about what else goes on during this process and what we’d recommend individuals consider.

What recruiters will do

When a counter offer is received by one of our candidates, we’ll help them take a bigger picture view about what’s on offer. And at this stage, it’s important to remember why someone was looking for a new role in the first place. In many instances, there are underlying reasons that prompted someone to look for a new role and we encourage our candidates to remember these. In the case of a pay rise, promotion, or promising to resolve issues, we’d also recommend thinking about why an employer hasn’t already addressed these issues… specifically, why has it taken the threat of a key worker moving to a new company to bring these to a head. If an employer is unaware of the needs and aspirations of its workforce, then a temporary fix in terms of the deals made in a counter offer may be shortlived and we’ve seen many candidates that accept a counter offer go on to regret their decision when six months on, there’s a lack of progress or change and it’s back to business as usual.

Making a decision about a counter offer

So as we’ve covered already, we really stress the importance of remembering why it was you wanted to move in the first place. And recollect what made you choose the new company you’ve applied to work at. It may be their reputation in the industry, the benefits package they offer, or their career development opportunities, or something else entirely. So whether you have a counter offer or not, these facts will likely still be just as compelling.

So a decision about a counter offer comes down to balancing the comfort and security of what is known – ie your current role, working environment and existing employer (and all the negatives that made you look for alternative employment in the first place), and compare that to what’s on offer with your prospective new employer. We often find that a good proportion of candidates simply think an employer’s counter offer is too little, too late. If they really valued an employee and thought they were worth paying more, or offering a clear career path to, then they should have done this without the threat of an employee leaving.

And it’s also worth remembering that once you have handed in your resignation and a counter offer has been made, there’s always the chance that the employer will treat you differently knowing you wanted to leave. It may be that a counter offer will be put forward to mitigate the impact of your departure, whereas the reality is that your employer may then be looking for a replacement on their schedule. This is certainly something we’ve seen happen before and if you accept a counter offer, so is definitely something to consider.

What to do next

It’s impossible for us to make a sweeping statement about whether to accept a counter offer or not. Each case should be assessed on its own merits, and a candidate will be the one that needs to make the decision. All we can do is state that in our experience, many counter offers don’t work out in the long run. Old issues rear their heads, and the reasons a candidate chose to leave in the first place will be just evident post-counter offer. If you want to talk through any potential move, we’re happy to help – so contact us for a confidential discussion. Of course, if you’re working with us anyway and we’ve found the role for you, we’ll be advising you throughout the process anyway… it’s part of the service we offer.

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