Receiving counter-offers and handling them

So you’ve got through the tough stages of finding a new job; sorting out your CV, performing at the interview. You’re finally being offered your dream role and you’re just about to resign from your current position. Everything is going according to planned, until your employer makes you an enticing offer making you reconsider your resignation and leaving you in a dilemma. Should you stay or should you go?

It’s important to weigh up the new internal offer as thoroughly as possible. Which makes the best use of your skills and will develop your career in the direction you’d like to take it? How do you feel about each businesses and your direct managers in each? Which offers the best financial reward together with the other opportunities on offer?

While there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer for the tricky subject of the employment counter-offer, we at Michael Page have been witness to many different versions over the years. Here are some things to consider when you’re presented with a new job offer and a counter offer at the same time.

Delayed recognition

If you’re worth the increased salary and responsibilities, why wasn’t this recognized before you handed in your notice? Part of your frustration from the outset may be that you’re undervalued, and if it takes your resignation for this to be noticed you may be better off with an organization that is more proactive in helping you fulfil your career ambitions.

It’s not about the money

A counter-offer may not just be about a pay rise, it could aim to address other key motivators like level of responsibilities or work/life balance. Unless salary was the sole purpose for looking at new opportunities, counter-offers are rarely the answer. In our experience, most people who accept them find themselves looking for a new job a few months later, when the situation that caused them to explore the market, remains unresolved.

Trust issues

Once your employer knows that you’ve been interviewing elsewhere, you demonstrate that you have the potential to be disloyal to the company. You may no longer be seen as a team player, and could potentially be first out the door if there is an internal reorganization.

Be aware of the wider market

If you do accept a counter-offer that results in a substantial increase in salary, you may end up being overpaid compared to the market rate for your level of experience. This could make an external move in the future challenging, as your remuneration won’t accurately reflect your value in the market.

Consider what you are leaving behind

Working at an organization for a good period of time means you’ve built up equity, whether it’s the relationships you’ve developed or your service record.

Most people make the most dramatic improvements to their career progression and long-term earning potential by making an external move, but that doesn’t mean that the most positive move for you is necessarily one outside your company. If the deal offered by your existing organization changes, it deserves fair consideration at least.

If you decide not to stick with your current employer, use it as an opportunity to thank them for the offer and reiterate that while you enjoyed your time with the organization, you remain firm in your decision to leave. There’s little point at this stage in burning bridges by listing everything you felt was wrong with the organization and your role, so it’s best to leave professionally.

The counter offer situation can be a tricky one to handle and will take some careful consideration. When deciding whether the offer is acceptable you can use our new Salary Comparison Tool to be sure that the salary on the table is a fair one. Deciding between a new job and counter offer? Speak to your Michael Page consultant for more advice on how to proceed.