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What you should think about if you get a counteroffer

Gina Jatoonah

Gina Jatoonah

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You’ve been offered an exciting new role. You’ve rehearsed your resignation. You’ve started working out your start date. Then comes a curveball – a counteroffer from your current employer to stay.

Moving jobs is a big decision, and for most people, being counter-offered will bring up a mixture of emotions that mean deciding what is right for them is daunting.

There are lots of blogs out there that very firmly advise against accepting a counteroffer, but I wanted to offer some balance. So I've reviewed the pros and cons of the key factors that come up in conversations I've had about counteroffers, to help anyone who’s facing this choice to make the decision that is right for their career.

Feeling valued

Pro - The feeling of being counteroffered makes you feel valued. The company is going out of its way to better the other offer you have received to make you stay. That will likely inspire a fresh sense of loyalty, and make you feel that the company understands the contribution you make.

Con – While you've got what you were looking for in the short term, showing that you were ready to leave means your loyalty could be questioned by your employer. While it's easier for a company to give out a pay rise than to recruit from scratch in the short-term, questions over your loyalty may affect your progression in the company.

Stuck in a rut

Pro– By accepting a counter offer you already know what you're in for. You know your co-workers, you are comfortable in the environment and you will not be a 'newbie'.

Con -  It is still the same environment - same job, just a different package. Even if big changes have been promised, it's easy to find yourself in the same routine you were in before or be faced with the same issues. One thing to think about is whether the counteroffer is solving the issues that made you look to move on, or whether it's a temporary solution to a long term issue.

Setting expectations

Pro – You already know what is expected of you in your current job role and you know you'll be able to achieve this.

Con –  You may not get the chance to learn new skills or tackle fresh challenges which will contribute to your development in the long term, especially if the counteroffer is purely monetary.

The grass may (not) be greener

Pro – While a new company may seem really attractive, there's always a perceived element of risk. There will be a learning period and it will take time to adjust to a new environment. You may even realise how good your previous role was and regret leaving.

Con – Simply, you don’t know if you don’t try. It is always scary starting something new and going into the unknown. However, sometimes not taking these risks could make you feel like you haven’t allowed yourself to progress, or take on new challenges because you haven’t exposed yourself to a new opportunity.

I hope the above are useful thinking points for anyone deliberating over a counter offer. But, if I could give one piece of advice to anyone considering a move, I would say that you shouldn't leave it until you get a counteroffer to think about getting one.

By reviewing your current situation and the issues you are currently facing, you can think about a solution before interviewing elsewhere. Here are the questions I'd advise you to think about.

  • Am I stuck in a routine and need a change?
  • Why would I want to leave my current role?
  • What do I want to achieve in a new role?
  • Am I really valued where I am?

One solution could be having an open conversation with your manager, addressing the issues you are facing. If your manager is open to making changes, make sure you've got a system of tracking these over time - it's easy to say something will change, but its harder to stick to a change over time. And if your concerns are not addressed in the initial conversation, you should probably consider whether you would better off making a move, and finding a company which can address these issues.

If you are using a counter-offer as a tool to get a pay rise, I would always advise that you do your research on the market before you start looking at other roles. Firstly, this needs much less investment from you, and the company you're interviewing with. Secondly, going all the way through to offer with a company you're only speaking with to get a number to use against your current employer can leave a bad impression, and harm your chances of working with that company again in the future.

Everyone's situation is unique, but it's important to be sure about your decision. If you decide to take a counteroffer, you need to be certain its the right choice, as most companies will retract the offer once it has been declined, and it could affect your chances of interviewing in that particular company in the future. 

If you'd like to discuss your career or find out more about counteroffers, I'm always happy to chat. Say hello at gina@wearefutureheads.co.uk.