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Why not to accept a counter offer

08 June 2016

You finally decided to look for a new job… applied for a position, passed the interview process, impressed the prospective employer and received an offer you can’t refuse - great! 

Now that you’ve written your resignation letter ready to hand into your current employer, this could go one way or another:

1. Your current employer congratulates you on your new role, recognises your efforts and understands your reasons behind taking this step (after all, a good manager needs to help their employees develop and grow further) OR…
2. Your current employer persuades you to stay with a counter offer - whether that be an increase in salary or a promotion.

Although the counter offer may be very appealing, before you give into temptation it’s important for you to consider if it’s really worth accepting.

We recently had a candidate who accepted a role via ourselves which was a great opportunity that offered a good step forward both financially and from a career perspective. Throughout the process, he loved everything about the role and company and they echoed his sentiments. The process seemed to be running smoothly until the day he handed in his notice! He’d been a loyal employee and had been with the business for numerous years so we knew this was going to be a difficult meeting for him. Towards the back end of the day, I received a call from the candidate saying that he had handed in his notice and it had not all gone to plan. His Managing Director had played the emotional guilt trip card and forced the candidate to enter into a negotiation about staying with the business. There were a lot of promises made including a £10,000 pay rise which matched his offer from the client we were representing and the promise that he could head up the whole UK commercial operation. The candidate decided the safer option for him was to stay with his current employer and accept their offer for a promotion. 

This was an easy decision to make for the employer as it caused them less pain trying to replace that individual. It meant they didn’t have a gap in their commercial team, less unrest in the team which could risk others leaving and it also meant they’d avoid having to pay a recruitment fee to replace this employee. Taking everything into account, you can see why their MD would move heaven and earth to keep this candidate! 

Three months passed and I received a call from the candidate. Unfortunately, things had not materialised as he had thought. The promotion had not taken place and his role had not really changed at all. His pay rise hadn’t materialised either and somehow their MD had managed to tie this into specific objectives instead of the initially agreed instant pay rise on top of his current basic salary. The candidate was devastated that he’d turned down our clients offer and called to see if there was any opportunity to re-visit that. Unfortunately, we’d filled the role with an alternative candidate that our client was really pleased with. We did manage to help the candidate secure another offer which they were really happy with, but this could have been a much smoother process should they have listened to our advice initially.

In today’s market where candidates are few and far between, counter offers are more prevalent than ever. The above scenario is extremely common; should you ever be in this situation, these are the 5 things you need to consider.

What was the main reason behind you looking for a new opportunity in the first place? Was it because you were looking for a new challenge? Progression? Increased responsibility? Or career development? Whatever it may be, you don't want to be disappointed after refusing the new job offer.

Even after you accept the counter offer, your current employer may no longer consider you trustworthy and begin to look at you with suspicion. This could damage your working relationships (especially with your manager), causing you to feel unsettled and unhappy at work. Can you risk losing the trust you’ve developed?

The offer put in front by your current employer is an immediate response made in a moment of panic, only to save on recruitment and training costs that would be incurred when searching for your replacement. It’s important to think about where the money for your pay rise is coming from and check whether it’s from your next bonus or pay rise - don't be misled.

Accepting the counter offer won’t address the main reasons as to why you decided to look elsewhere. If your employer had already considered what you were worth, you would have received the pay rise or promotion much sooner, and instead of handing in your notice, you’d be happy in your current role.

Is the prospective employer a company where you’d love to work? If you choose to go ahead with the counter offer, you risk ruining your relationship with this employer. Not only will this affect your future prospects of securing a position with this company, you’ll also miss out on what could be your dream job!

It’s common that after accepting a counter offer, people start exploring the job market again - just as one of our candidates did. Take a step back and consider - are the reasons behind the counter offer in your best interest? Don't lose sight of what initially led you to look for a new job and remind yourself of what matters the most to you. 

At New Chapter Consulting we’re experts within the FMCG/Consumer and Retail sectors. We work with a number of well-known brands and blue chip clients to sure the best talent for them, as well as helping people find their dream job!
If you’re looking for your next opportunity or need any advice, simply give me a call on 0845 2000 741.

Mike Lowery
Managing Director - Leeds

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