Counter-offer Culture


A candidate handing in their notice should always be prepared to receive a counteroffer - should this be accepted?


The act of resignation is often a daunting one. At the junior end of the market employees may be leaving their first professional ‘home’, a place within which they’ve matured and developed, potentially under the careful watch of a mentor.

At a more senior level, a person might be considering leaving behind a business, team or project that they’ve had a tangible impact on or helped to create. In either case, resignation is often the part of a recruitment process that candidates find most worrisome.

As the recruitment market continues to splutter and cough its way towards the second half of the year, there are limited, but sufficient, opportunities for the active candidate to move to new positions. Hiring freezes and teams trimmed by cuts means that the retention of strong, value adding employees is increasingly important. Counter offers continue to be prevalent.

A candidate handing in their notice should always be prepared to receive a counteroffer. Even so, it will inevitably cause a range of emotions that could cause them to deliberate. However, there is very rarely an instance where a counteroffer should be accepted. Consider the below:

How did you get to this point?

A job search tends to be a relatively long and arduous journey. You’ve probably spent your evenings and weekends trawling through adverts or targeting specific firms, let alone the time you’ve set aside for interview preparation and risks you’ve taken to step away from the day job to interview. You’ve made the effort for at least one reason, and whilst most people would like an increase in salary to make a move, money is rarely the primary motivation.

Why now and will they deliver?

Your pay rise has been matched. You’ve been promised early promotion, an internal rotation, relocation, increased responsibility. You’ve received calls from seniors that have never said as much as ‘Good Morning’ to you. Why has it taken the threat of your resignation for your concerns to be addressed and your ambitions to be acknowledged?

Replacing and employee is expensive and time-consuming. It probably takes at least 6 months for the new recruit to be up to speed, meaning your team is left short-staffed in the meantime. There may not even be budget for a replacement. It’s easy to justify a counter offer from a commercial perspective, especially when the content can often be intangible and the assurances distant.

The market is full of stories about unfulfilled promises and it is common to see the same candidate actively searching again within the year. At this point you’ve already given your current employer reason to doubt your commitment to them – are they really going commit to you in return?

Should you stay or go?

Think back to the moment you first considered leaving your current firm. Often that simple process is enough reaffirmation, but only you will know if you can really envisage more time in the same role.

Our suggestion would be to follow the route that offers you the challenge, career progression and happiness that led you to start your search in the first place.

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