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Counter offers ... not all they're cracked up to be!

Counter offers ... not all they're cracked up to be!

Posted on 18/10/2016 by Joanna Slaven

counter offers blog

It’s fair to say that most of the candidates I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the last 9 years have been looking to leave their roles because certain elements of the job are not right.  (Happy campers don’t generally pack up and leave a good thing, right?)  The number one reason seems to be that they don’t like their boss or the company culture, closely followed by not being challenged in the position or earning enough money.

These are all valid reasons for wanting out and seeking greener pastures and I welcome anyone who finds themselves in this position to give me a call. But what happens if you take the leap of faith by putting yourself out there, only to be counter-offered by your current employer at the eleventh hour?  Flattered much?  Don’t be ... because I’m here to tell you that things rarely change and you will be knocking on my door again in 12 months time .. here’s why.

Horrible bosses and cultures won’t change after you’ve accepted a counter offer

So your boss is controlling / insensitive / micromanaging you and you want out.  You’ve finally bitten the bullet and commenced your job search.  A new and exciting opportunity has presented itself and after much deliberation you’ve decided to accept.  In the process of handing in your resignation your current boss does an about-face and offers you a promotion to stay.

Whoever said a leopard never changes its spots was bang on the money and you need to remind yourself of this right now.  No doubt your boss will be on his / her best behaviour when making the offer, hell they might even be displaying some level of compassion while they’re at it! It’s important to understand that what someone says they’ll do and what they ultimately plan on doing may be two very different things.  Especially when what has been promised is coming from a difficult or disrespectful manager that you barely trust. 

Be sure to back your instincts and know that this is a thinly-veiled disguise, with the sole intention of keeping you in place.  The promise of a promotion or new challenge might seem just what the doctor ordered, but it won’t change the fact your boss is nasty or the culture is terrible.  Don’t ever forget the reasons you wanted out in the first place.

Why does it take a resignation to gain a pay rise?

While a salary increase may look attractive on the outside, try not to be seduced by this tactic.  Why should you have to resign before they value your worth? Let’s be realistic, your boss has done a quick calculation of the time and costs associated with recruiting your replacement. It will be less painful for him / her to offer you a pay increase now and make the resignation go away.  And where is the money coming from?  Just be aware that if it’s taken a potential resignation to offer you a raise, it might be a long time coming before the next one.

People often stay because it’s too hard to leave

This is a trap for a player of any age.  You’ve been putting up with poor cultures, long working hours and stressful workloads for too long but you’re practically part of the furniture!  While the thought of commencing a new job search can be daunting, STOP PROCRASTINATING and get the ball rolling.  But if the thought of doing so is overwhelming, this is a good time to pick up the phone and speak to a Recruitment Consultant.  We can help you see the forest from the trees and registering with an agency is a safe place to start.

From the recruiter’s perspective

I won’t lie, when a candidate gets counter offered it can be an extremely stressful time for the Recruiter.  You have invested a lot of time and effort in sourcing and qualifying top talent, only to have them interview, accept the offer and then not accept the offer. Disaster!  

To avoid this happening, I raise the question early in the interview process so that the candidate can start thinking about what they would do if they are counter offered.  I ask the question in the initial interview, after the candidate interviews with the client and after the offer is on the table.  "What will your boss say when you resign?"  Quite often the candidate won’t think there is any chance of the counter offer occurring but at least discussing it early in the piece gets them thinking about it.

What happens if you accept the counter offer?

The statistics vary on this but in my experience I can say that a candidate who decides to stay is usually looking to leave again within 12 months.  If I had a dollar for every candidate that came back and said "I should have taken the other job.. nothing’s changed.." I reckon I’d have about 20 bucks! 

Leaving a job can be an emotional time and sometimes it feels like it would just be easier to stay. But don’t forget the reasons for wanting to leave in the first place. Those issues will still remain after being shadowed by money in the short term and a poor culture won’t get any better just because you’ve been given a promotion. Don’t run the risk of missing out on an amazing opportunity when it’s highly likely that you’ll be looking for work again in the not-so-distant future.