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How to handle a counter-offer

Changing jobs is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make and getting an attractive offer from a new company is a fantastic feeling. However, for a lot of people, once they hand in their notice, they will receive a counter-offer.

A counter-offer is when your current employer makes you an offer to try to convince you to remain with them. It can have many elements to it such as an increase in remuneration, more responsibility, a promotion, a change in role, flexibility to work remotely, a new project that interests you, or more often than not, a combination of these.

Deciding whether to accept the counter-offer or not can be a really tough decision, especially if you feel a sense of loyalty to your current employer or manager. Over my years working in the recruitment sector, and seeing so many candidates faced with untangling everything, trying to make the right decision, I’ve gathered the key points to be considered:


  • Understand your concerns - there may be more than one reason driving you to consider moving employer but identifying what they are will aid you in looking for what’s important in your next career move. You may feel you’ve been stuck on the same project for too long, or you’re using dated technology and want to work with the latest tools. Or perhaps you are looking for an increase in salary, benefits, or equity participation. Whatever they are, dive into them to figure out what it is that’s missing in your current role and what the right new role needs to look like for you.


  • Address these concerns with your current manager - Before applying for roles or engaging a recruiter to help you, I really recommend you speak with your current manager to address these issues to see if they can help. An old saying springs to mind here: “if you don’t ask you don’t get”. Honest conversations at this stage can save a lot of misspent time and effort if your preference is to stay where you are if your issues can be remedied. Give them an opportunity to address your concerns and be sure everyone’s very clear about any timescales to implement agreed changes. A word of advice here, judge any perceived progress buy what is committed to or changed, not what is just said. 


  • Handing in your notice – If after speaking with your manager, they are unable to resolve your concerns and you have successfully completed the interview process in another company to receive an attractive offer, you’ll be resigning. In a brief, clear and concise manner submit your notice in writing to your manager outlining what date you will be finishing work. Ideally, you’ve previously attempted to have your concerns addressed, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to your employer or entirely unexpected. 


  • The counter-offer – So, you’ve handed in your notice and have been invited to a meeting with your manager and potentially senior management. Remind yourself before the session of all the drivers behind your decision to leave in the first place. This will help keep the conversation focused on the areas important to you. The counter-offer they make will probably reflect the conversations you’ve had with your manager from the start.


  • What to do? – Once they present the counter-offer it's up to you to decide. During this time, it is important to look at the facts and ask yourself the following:
    • Why was I leaving in the first place?
    • Why only now are my concerns being addressed once my notice has been given?
    • Am I being persuaded to stay for my needs or for my employer’s?
    • Am I convinced what’s being offered will be delivered?
    • If I stay and accept the counter-offer, will there be any animosity or distrust that could be detrimental to my future there? 
    • Could they be planning for me to leave in the near future, but to their timescales and on their terms?
    • Does a counter-offer put me under the spotlight to perform at a higher level?
    • If I stay and accept the counter-offer, is this principally through fear of the unknown about a new employer, and is that a valid reason to stay?
    • If I stay and accept the counter-offer, will it add any value to my career or personal requirements?


  • Informing each company of your decision - Once you have made your mind up it’s important to be as professional and as courteous as possible. If you accept the counter-offer explain the situation and your reasoning to the prospective new employer and thank them for their time and interest in you. If you are declining the counter-offer, make sure you do the same and thank them for the opportunities, you have been given over your employment. 

Deciding on accepting or rejecting a counter-offer can be one of the hardest decisions you will have to make when looking at moving employer. There are always nerves and excitement when starting a new job, it is a jump into the unknown; leaving your comfort zone. Do not allow fear, or emotions to cloud your judgment. Having a clear mind and a pragmatic approach is the best way to evaluate a counter-offer objectively. Being in the fortunate position of considering a counter-offer is an opportunity to look at your needs and career in a whole new way. Just remember why you were looking to leave in the first place and don’t lose focus on that goal.

Any you have any questions on the above or would like to know more about Talentspot, then get in touch.