Published on 4th January 2021
Counter offers are becoming increasingly common, particularly in professional services. But is it ever a good idea to accept one?
This article covers the key questions you need to ask yourself to ensure you make the right decision.
Why are counter offers becoming so widely used?
It’s a tough market out there at the moment, and not just for jobseekers. Since COVID-19 hit, employees have been increasingly reluctant to change firms, with job security taking top priority.
As a result, when an employee does leave their role, employers are finding that there is a shortage of good candidates available to replace them, particularly for roles that require specialist skillsets.
This is especially true in professional services, where most firms insist on, or at least have a strong preference for, candidates with previous experience in the industry.
As a result, counter offers are becoming increasingly used as firms to try to retain their staff.
Should you stay or should you go?
As an employee, it can be flattering to receive a counter offer, and in the current climate, it is understandable that many candidates are choosing to stay put rather than risk a move at the moment.
But is that the right thing to do? Is it ever a good idea to accept a counter offer?
The short answer is: it depends. But here are some questions you should seriously consider before making your decision.
1. What were your true motivations for leaving?
Is it all about the salary? Lack of scope for progression? Do you feel you need a new challenge?
Often, a counter offer will only solve one of these reasons (in most cases, the salary part).
So consider whether that’s really enough to make you happy in the medium to longer-term.
2. Why is your employer only realising your value now?
Had you spoken to your employer previously about your desires for an increase in salary/responsibility etc?
If so, ask yourself why they didn’t take notice sooner. Does the counter offer truly resolve the issue/s you were having?
3. Are you ready to perform like a new hire, proving yourself all over again to justify your increased responsibilities or salary?
Nobody gets something for nothing, so if you’ve been given a salary increase or a promotion, you’ll need to be prepared to step up and prove to your employer all over again that they made the right decision.
4. Are you truly ready for the increased responsibilities?
If so, why weren’t you given this opportunity before? Will your employer support your career goals moving forward?
5. If offered a new role, where has role come from? Does the role really exist?
Sometimes, employers will create a new role to try and retain a good employee,
Remember, when you resign, your employer doesn’t have a lot of time to properly think through their offer to keep you and consequently what they promise is often a ‘knee jerk’ reaction which may be impossible to maintain in reality.
This is particularly true when an employee is offered a new role just to appease them so that they will stay with the firm.
Make sure that you are clear on exactly what responsibilities your new role will entail.
6. Are you just having your salary reviewed early? Will this now affect future salary reviews?
Many candidates have discovered that by accepting a pay rise as part of their counter offer, they don’t get a salary increase during their annual pay review. Consider this carefully.
7. How will you be viewed internally for promotional opportunities in the future? Does your employer feel differently about you now?
Ask yourself how the firm might feel about you if you accepted a counter offer. Would they be likely to get rid of you first if redundancies had to be made?
They know you were prepared to leave, so be mindful that loyalty and trust has been broken and will take time to rebuild.
8. Will you be wondering “what if”?
Had you moved, how would that different path have worked out? Would it have led to better career opportunities in the future?
Again, it all comes down to your true motivations for leaving the role and whether the counter offer addresses all the issues that led you to resign in the first place.
Over the years, the statistics speak for themselves; as many as 70% of our candidates who accept a counter offer, re-approach us to start looking for a new job again within a year.
This proves that, while a counter offer might seem like a great improvement in the short term, the reasons you originally had for moving on often still remain.
Think about how you would react to a counter offer in advance
Of course, as a candidate you are also under pressure to make a decision quickly. Most people think long and hard about leaving their current firm and it is unlikely to be a decision that would have happened overnight.
Then suddenly, if you are faced with a counter offer and weren’t prepared for this, you find yourself faced with two career opportunities (the new firm and your current firm) with very little time to decide…. this is when wrong decisions can be made that can prove costly for your career.
So if you're job hunting at the moment, think about how you would react if your current employer were to give you a counter offer. By being prepared and thinking this through carefully, you'll be better placed to make the right decision for your career.