How to handle a counter-offer
04 May 2020
You have been thinking about your current role for a while. You sway one way, then the other about whether it’s time to leave. You make up your mind that it’s time to seek that next career opportunity and find the ‘perfect’ role.
You hand your letter of resignation to your boss. You feel relieved because you think the hard part is over. The excitement of starting a new job begins to replace the pressure of leaving your present job.
But that same afternoon, your boss throws a spanner in the works by making what appears to be an unbelievable counteroffer. You're flattered but confused. It's tempting to stay with what you know. Should you stay or should you go?
It is important to weigh up the new internal offer as thoroughly as you do the external option.
Which makes the best use of your skills and will develop your career in the direction you’d like to take it? How do you feel about each business and your direct managers in each? Which offers the best financial reward in conjunction with the other opportunities on offer?
Reasons for Accepting Counteroffers
Most people find counteroffers hard to reject out of hand because they begin to question whether it’s worth giving up the familiarity and security of a job they’ve had for years. After all, what if you take the new job and realize you don’t get on with your co-workers as well as your current team? Or maybe the longer commute won’t be worth it?
And at your current job, you’ve settled in; you’re comfortable in your role and know the lay of the land. Plus, if your bosses are making a counteroffer, that means they value you as an employee, right? They recognize your worth and want to keep you on. At a new company, you’d have to prove yourself all over again.
The Drawbacks of Counteroffers
But don’t make up your mind just yet: there’s another side to consider. Even though they've sweetened the deal, keep in mind that the company is likely making a counteroffer much more for their benefit than yours. Why else would they wait until you resigned to offer you what you're really worth to them?
In addition, once you've made it clear that you want to jump ship, your loyalty will be in question. They might be making a counteroffer only to take advantage of you until they find a cheaper or "more dedicated" replacement.
Lastly, you’ve already been through the decision process. If you’ve weighed up your options and concluded that the new company is a better fit, don’t second-guess yourself now. Chances are that down the road, you’ll wonder how your life would have been different had you accepted, and you’ll regret choosing the comfortable route instead of taking the risk. For these reasons, most career advisors agree that it's not a good idea to accept a counteroffer.
According to national surveys of employees that accept counter offers, 50 to 80% voluntarily leave their employer within six months of accepting the counter offer because of un-kept promises. By 12 months; the majority have left.
How to Discourage or Decline Counteroffers
To avoid encouraging a counteroffer, be careful what you say about why you're resigning. For example, avoid saying something like "I'm resigning because I need more money." If pushed, offer a simple, general reason instead, such as "It's a career opportunity I can't pass up."
Of course, if an offer is made, it’s important to use tact and finesse when declining, to avoid leaving bad feelings that might damage your references. However, avoid expressing resignation regret, as that might give your employer ammunition to pressure you to stay.
You know your work situation better than anyone. But before jumping to accept a counteroffer, think long and hard about what you really want. Would you really have bothered job searching and going through the interview process if you were happy where you are? Best advice: take the job where there’s room to grow and where they’ll pay you what you’re worth.
If you would like to discuss counter offers or any other aspect of the recruitment process then please do contact me.