The Truth About Counter-Offers And How To Handle Them

  • October 8, 2021

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They do say if you want a pay rise, the best way to get one is to get another offer that your current employer has to match or better.

They might be right, but is taking the counteroffer always the right thing to do?

Reported stats vary, but somewhere between 60 and 80% of people who accept a counteroffer to stay at their current employer then go on to leave within 6 months anyway.

So this begs the question:


Why would employers bother making a counteroffer?

Of course, it goes without saying you’re obviously a valued member of the team they can’t bear to part with. However, aside from you being indispensable, there are often more cynical and less personal reasons behind why employers will try to retain staff with a counteroffer.

It saves money.

The recruitment process is costly, both in terms of tangible financial costs and in terms of taking up valuable time and other resources. There’s the lost productivity, knowledge gaps to fill, the literal cost of recruitment consultancy fees and job ads, and the cost of onboarding and training. Not to mention there might be a gap between you finishing and a new hire starting.

The chances are employers would need to pay the market rate for a new hire anyway, and if that hire doesn’t work out they need to go through the whole process again. Costs can quickly spiral.

It’s often much cheaper, easier and less risky to better your current offer than it would be to go through the recruitment process.


What should you do if you receive a counteroffer?

So, if you’ve secured yourself an offer letter and you’ve told your employer that you have another offer and you’re going to resign, or you’ve already handed in your notice, and your employer comes back to you saying they want to reject your resignation and make you an offer instead, what do you do?

●     It’s ok to let it go to your head a little.

Even if your employer is keen to keep for because it would be more expensive to replace you, it’s still flattering that they *want* to keep you. So well done, you’re obviously talented and in-demand.

●     Think carefully about your reasons for moving on.

Most candidates we speak to are, of course, interested in their remuneration package. None of us works out of the goodness of our hearts. But there are lots of reasons why people are looking for a new job, and financial motivation isn’t always the most important. Common reasons for moving on include:

  • Craving a new challenge
  • Diversifying experience
  • Opportunities for progression
  • Culture and fit
  • Location
  • Flexible working
  • Staying with a team

Whatever your reasons, they don’t go away because you’ve been offered more money.

●     Don’t second-guess yourself

Leaving your job can be daunting. A counteroffer can make you doubt yourself, Have conviction in your reasons for leaving and try to keep your eyes on the bigger picture.

●     Be gracious and do take time to think

Ask for time to process the offer and all your options, but do keep communicating with your recruitment consultant, or your prospective employer, about your situation.

●     Be honest and open

We always value honesty and transparency in situations where there has been a counteroffer. It certainly can’t hurt your employment prospects for your prospective employer to know you are so in demand that your current employer wants to enter into a bidding war for you. We can’t guarantee that there will be any movement on your current offer, but as we’ve already established, money won’t be the only reason for moving on.

●     Be prepared for a counteroffer

Because the skills gap is growing if you’re actively job-seeking then it’s likely you’re going to receive a counteroffer from a current employer. If you’re expecting it, you won’t be caught off-guard and you’ll already have an idea of what you would need to be added into your package to make you stay.

●     Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get one

Even though counteroffers are becoming more common, it doesn’t mean they are a given or that you have not been valued by your current employer if you don’t get one. There can be many reasons why an employer won’t try to tempt you to stay, including an awareness of the point we made previously about counteroffers often being futile.


Do counter-offers work?

In the short term, yes, they often work. In the long term, as supported by the stats, you’re likely to get itchy feet again pretty soon.

We have spoken to candidates in the past who have accepted a counteroffer and have gone on to regret their decision to reject their new opportunity, so careful consideration of all the factors will pay dividends in the long term. We’re always happy to give advice or offer new perspectives in the decision-making process.


If you have your heart set on a new challenge to see out 2021, take a look at our current opportunities to see how they might fit with your experience and skillset.

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