Should you accept a counter-offer?

You’ve been searching for a new job, diligently amending and sending your CV and attending interviews. Then you get that long anticipated job offer and you’re eager to start in your new role. Of course, in between then and now there’s the difficult situation of telling your current employer.

At this point many job seekers hit a roadblock in the form of a counter offer from their employer.

As recruiters we see lots of employers have a knee jerk reaction to the news that one of their employees is planning on leaving; it’s often testament to the hard work of the individual that the company will pull all the stops out to keep them.

However, it leaves the job seeker in a tricky situation – should they accept the counter offer? Or up roots and try a new opportunity?

Although every scenario is different, and each individual needs to consider their personal circumstances when making a decision, in this blog I try to offer our advice to anyone who is struggling to decide between a new opportunity and a counter offer.

What are your reasons for resigning?

My first piece of advice when it comes to dealing with a counter offer is to go back and revisit your reasons for starting a job search in the first place.

Was it because of difficulties with your line manager? Frustration with a lack of progression? Disillusionment with the company as a whole? Or perhaps you are simply craving a new opportunity and challenge?

For the vast majority of candidates we work with there are reasons beyond the purely financial for moving jobs. It’s very rare that their current pay packet is their only bugbear with their current role.

With that in mind, think about why you made the decision to change jobs. If it wasn’t for financial reasons, and your current employer’s counter-offer is primarily an increased salary, then will accepting that offer solve any of the problems you had in the first place? In our experience, it’s unlikely.

It’s widely claimed that 70 per cent of those who accept a counter offer are job-hunting again within six months; that’s because the counter offer has not solved the problems they had in the first place.

If you are to consider a counter offer, you must be extremely confident that the offer includes a full resolution to the problems you’ve harboured in your current role.

Discuss the counter offer with your friends and family. Explain to them why you were looking for a new job in the first place and look at your new opportunity with fresh eyes.

Speak with your recruitment agency too and seek their advice, they have extensive experience working with candidates in all sorts of scenarios.

Why is your employer making a counter offer?

When considering your motivation for changing jobs, it’s important you consider the reasons why your current employer is making a counter offer too.

Are they making a counter offer simply because they don’t need or want the hassle and expense of finding a new staff member? Or are there honestly changes coming to the business, which they want you to be a part of? Assess the situation and be prepared to ask your employer why they have chosen to make a counter offer and how they intend the offer to solve your grievances.

How to handle a counter offer situation well

A counter offer situation has the potential to burn bridges for you if handled poorly – particularly with a potential employer and recruiters who may be allies for you later on in your career.

Of course, when a counter offer is put on the table you are going to have to say ‘no’ to someone. If you have built a relationship with the potential employer and feel it would be appropriate, then make sure you let them know directly you have chosen to proceed with a counter offer.

If you decide to decline a counter offer, then be honest with your current employer and let them know as soon as possible – the recruitment process can be a lengthy one, so additional time for them to find someone to fill your role could be precious. Be sure to tactfully explain your reasons for leaving and that your decision is final – but thank them for all the opportunities provided to you during your employment.

Also ensure you keep your recruiter in the loop when you are faced with a counter offer. They will need to be aware of the situation so they can appropriately handle any questions from potential employers and manage expectations. Make sure you work closely with your recruiter during this stage as, if you work well with them and handle everything appropriately, you will maintain a positive relationship with a recruiter who may be able to help you in the future.

All in all, when it comes to dealing with a counter offer make sure you take your time to think about things and your motivations for finding a new job. Don’t make snap decisions and ask plenty of questions so you are equipped with the information you need.

About the Author

Camilla Mitcham

Camilla Mitcham

Recruitment Partner

Camilla is a recruitment partner at Anne Corder Recruitment. An expert in spotting a great CV, Camilla blogs for Anne Corder Recruitment offering tips and advice for job seekers on standing out, managing their job hunt and more.