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The perils of a counteroffer

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There’s a growing trend currently where employers are trying various means to persuade an employee to decline an external job offer and in most cases, the temptation of an increased salary seems to be the deciding factor behind a decision.

However, experience dictates it would be prudent to hang fire and seriously consider your options.

Using another job offer as a bargaining chip may be tempting, but on the basis of experience and evidence, more than often this ends badly.  It is crucial that during the job-hunting process you keep your motivations for moving at the forefront of your mind so when the time comes to hand in your notice, you are 100% convinced of the rationale behind leaving.

Here’s why:

Employers often make counteroffers in a moment of panic. If you are good at your job, you will no doubt be an important cog in your business and your leaving will no doubt create a hole, issues for your employer and cost them money to replace you and downtime within the business. But, once the dust has settled post counteroffer, you will potentially find that your relationship with your employer, perception within the business & your standing with the company has fundamentally changed.  Remember, you have decided you are keen to leave the business due to one motivation or another and if it is a deeper routed cause than financial, those frustrations will still be apparent.

Additionally, your company might just want time to search for a suitable replacement, figuring that it’s only a matter of time until you start looking around again. You might turn down your other offer and accept your employer’s counteroffer only to find yourself marginalised within the current structure and overlooked for the next promotion that is on offer.  In reality, who will your employer choose to promote – yourself who has tried to leave the business, or a colleague who has demonstrated commitment and loyalty (and not previously resigned..!) In fact, our market research proves that 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are looking to leave again within a year.

What’s crucial throughout the job-hunting stage is that you keep the primary reasons in your mind as to why you started job-searching in the first place. While more money is always a motivator, more often, there are also  other key, underlying factors that precipitated the need for you to move: be it personality fit, strained relations with your boss, day to day mundane aspects with the work, lack of recognition, lack of genuine career progression on offer, whatever it might have been. Those factors aren’t going change on the basis of a nominal pay rise, and you will more than likely encounter the same sentiments of frustration as soon as the dust settles.

Even if you get a salary increase from your current employer, think about the process you have been though to get it and the effort and energy you have put into going through an external interview process.  If you were a valued and incentivised employee, surely you will have key deliverables in place to trigger a pay rise or a review?

You also run the huge risk of getting that new employer to ever consider you again. If you go all the way through their hiring process only to accept a counteroffer from your current employer, then the former is going to be wary of considering you in the future. If it’s a company you’d like to work with, you might be shutting a door you’d rather keep open.

Now, are there times where accepting a counteroffer makes sense and works out? Sure, there are always odd exceptions. But, based on our experience, you need to be very cautious before doing so and ensure you cast your mind back to the core reasons why you have put a toe in the job-market and committed to the interview process in the 1st place.