Handling Counter Offers

You have just accepted a job offer with a new company and are in the process of turning in your resignation. The decision was a difficult one but deep down inside, you knew it was time to leave. While resigning, you took the courage to tell your Direct Manager you have made the decision to leave. Very coincidentally, at about the same time you decided to resign, your company also decided to offer you a promotion, a pay raise plus other too-good-to-be-true conditions. It comes very unexpectedly but as explained by your Manager, “This has always been in our company’s pipeline.” Believe it or not, this is a very common counter offer strategy used by many companies.

Counter offers may seem very tempting. However, you need to consider other hidden aspects before you accept that counter offer. Very often, last-minute offers to persuade you to stay may not be in your best interest:

Ten items you should consider-

  • When faced with a counter offer, the candidate should think logically and consider all options. Try not to be enticed purely by short-term gains or let your emotions get in the way.  Focus on your long-term career goals and objectives. Do not allow short-term relationship pressure affect your long-term career goals.
  • Candidates need to be aware that what is promised in a counter offer may not always materialize. When the crisis is over, what will be the incentive to keep you?
  • What were the very reasons that prompted you to seek for other job opportunities in the first place? Are those reasons no longer relevant to you? The immediate appeal of a counter offer tends to help candidates temporarily forget some of the fundamental reasons why they decided to leave in the first place. Most of these key aspects are normally not changed even after a period of time.
  • Do you want to work for a company that gives you that long overdue promotion and pay raise only when you resign? Why didn’t they make the offer earlier? Could this be a ploy to buy time until a replacement is found? Are what was offered to you just temporary arrangements to an immediate solution for your resignation? Remember it’s easier to keep you with a counter offer than finding a new replacement. The cost of recruiting and filling a qualified candidate who becomes an asset can be rather significant.
  • If the company increases your package to match that of your new job offer, was it underpaying you in the past? Will it be overpaying you in the future? Will you be paid more than you are worth in the long run? Will you be replaced by someone who costs less?
  • Will your loyalty to your company be questioned in the future? When you hand in your resignation letter, your company will no longer consider you part of their “Inner circle” of trusted confidants. The trust has weakened. Though it may seem the whole resignation episode might be forgotten after you decided to stay. Your Direct Manager is after all human. Perhaps every visit you have with a doctor might be viewed with suspicion.
  • Consider your principles and values. You are tempted by the counter offer and want to take it up.
    Are you being professional? You just entered into a contractual agreement with your new employer. You have considered it thoroughly prior to committing to this new job offer.  Are you being persuaded too easily? Do you keep changing your decisions? Consider the implications.
  • Job seekers who back out after accepting a counter offer by their present employer may also find their reputation adversely affected, especially when the industry is small.  They are also tarnishing the good relationship with the company as well as the recruitment firm who has worked very hard in putting up a strong recommendation for them.  The recruiter will certainly be very wary about approaching them for another job opportunity in future.
  • Reputable and well-managed companies rarely provide counter offers to their staff. Instead, they treat them with great dignity and will fully respect the decision made by the candidates, who are responsible enough in taking their careers in their own hands. They will thank the candidates for the service and contributions they have made during their stay and will make the resignation and hand-over processes as smooth as possible.  They will also convey their most sincere wishes to the candidates’ next career.  Food for thought: Statistics have shown that about 80% of candidates who accept a counter offer, resigns within 12 months after having accepted it.
  • Resignation is something that happens to everyone in the world of work. Despite all the pressures to get you to stay, candidates must step back and look at the bigger picture to focus on their long term career goals and aspirations. They can reduce the potential career damage by having the confidence in staying steadfast with their decisions.