Counter Offers - How to handle them
What to do if you receive a counter offer when handing in your notice
So, you've made the decision to leave your current role. You've spent hours writing and tailoring your CV for each application, written numerous cover letters, prepared and attended several carefully picked interviews, nervously awaited feedback, beaten off the competition and secured yourself a job offer... Congratulations! You're ready to start your new career!
And then your current employer put a counter offer on the table.
What do you do now? Find out how to handle a counter offer with our advice below...
Consider the counter offer
First of all, remember that you have already made the decision to leave your current role. Before the gruelling job search process, you were so unhappy you were moved to put yourself through this. Maybe it was for an improved work / life balance, greater progression opportunities, or you might have just hated your job! Remind yourself of the reason you were looking. You need to evaluate why you wanted to leave, and make sure the counter-offer addresses these needs.
Things to consider:
Consider the full package on offer:
- Is it just a salary increase? Is this all you were really after?
- Is it a new role with more / less responsibility?
- Is it a title change with loose promises for the future?
- Do you believe the promises will be kept?
- Would accepting the counter offer be productive (or counter productive) for your future career goals?
Only you know the answer to these questions, so be honest with yourself. Sometimes staying put can be the best option; other times, you're just postponing an inevitable exit.
Ask yourself: why a counter offer now?
It's certainly a compliment that your current employer has put an alternative offer on the table. Or is it?
A good manager should recognise when a team member is being under-used or under-challenged. They should ensure you have a career development framework and frequent reviews where you can openly discuss your career goals and salary requirements.
- Is there a reason they have they not offered you a pay rise, promotion, or the new challenge you crave sooner?
- Why are they only able to offer you this now, if you've previously asked and been rejected?
- Is this your next pay rise or promotion early?
Know what you're worth
Do your research. Look at the market value for your current job role and industry. Look at the trends for your geographical area and where you want to be in two to five years' time. You can find this out for your industry using our industry salary guides or for your location with our local salary guides. Consider how the impact of you accepting a counter offer will sit amongst your counterparts: will there be bad blood on account of inconsistent pay offers? Loyalty should be rewarded, more so than rewarding those looking for a quick fix.
What happens if you accept the counter offer?
Things may well turn out how they have been proposed: you receive your pay rise or new opportunity, and life is good for the next six months. However, consider the original reasons that prompted you to look for a new role: have these changed?
Bear in mind, once your employer knows you were looking to leave they may regard you with caution; the trust relationship between employer and employee may have been damaged and can be hard to repair.
According to HR experts ClearSky Business, more than 60% of people who accept counter offers then leave their employment within six months, either because their employers arrange a replacement in their own time, or because the employee's reasons for wanting to change job in the first place haven't gone away.
Most importantly, whatever you decide make sure it's the right decision for you in the long term, not a short term pacifier.