Tags: Career Guidance, career-guidance, blog

By Dave Morley

Accepting a counter offer from your current employer can be like giving your ex just one last chance; running the risk of a total waste of your time and talents. Here’s why…

Much like when one contemplates diving off the sinking ship of a relationship which has well and truly run its course, the decision to change jobs can also be fraught with the same stress and indecision. In both cases, you are taking the path of leaving your comfort zone for a new opportunity and, statistics show, it's probably due to poor communication, boredom and feeling undervalued.

Once you start actively taking steps towards carving out a better professional path for yourself, using every bit of success – even just a call-back - to feed your motivation and optimism in achieving your goal, the process becomes easier…enjoyable even! By the time you're sending out CVs, working with recruitment professionals who approach your hunt a full understanding of where you want to be, and attending interviews with a spring in your step, you’ll be totally committed to a great life change.

But it’s not as simple as that I’m afraid. While it may be easy to walk away from a personal or professional relationship when more fulfilling opportunities begin to materialise, the real test only presents itself when you sit down to hand in your resignation letter only to have your employer beg you to stay.

Just like the remorseful ex who earnestly pleads and promises that the relationship will get better, that you are valued and that they will move heaven and earth to put ‘the spark’ back into the romance and iron out the bumps in road, your employer’s attempts to lure you into staying will likely leave you feeling surprised and even flattered. Be warned, this is a trap!

A matter of broken trust

Although 'Better the devil you know' is a compelling argument when met with any significant crossroad in life, the reality is that accepting that counter offer could prove to be two steps backwards from your bold stride towards improving your professional prospects.

Sure, your employer may have offered to pay more to keep your knowledge, skills and experience, but now they also know that you wanted to leave. Even if they do genuinely value you, will the trust still be there now that they've come within one inch of seeing you strut out the door to new horizons?

Money is not the only object in the foundation to a successful career

The easiest thing for an employer to offer and deliver to an employee with itchy feet, is money. However, the promise of improving leadership style, communication and company culture is a lot harder to fulfil, and takes much more than digging a little deeper. The sad truth is that if money had been the only issue, you could have approached your boss and discussed it. There was a communication problem which hindered that process, and likely still exists.

So what can be done to strengthen your resolve in the wake of a counter offer?

Although it’s difficult to know which path to follow when being pulled in multiple directions, the following tips should help you evaluate how best to respond to the curve ball of the counter offer:

1. Weigh up the pro's and cons

A good way to help you to make the right decision is to have a list of the issues that are deal-breakers within your current job before your resignation meeting. It's a good idea to revisit these if you get the ‘counter offer jitters’ and be prepared to tell your manager that you want to think through what they've offered and revisit it again before deciding.

2. Remember why you wanted to leave in the first place

It is important when considering a counter offer that you always keep in mind what your reasons were for pursuing a job with another company in the first place. Taking salary aside for a moment, the new position could offer:

  • Childcare, healthcare or pension schemes

  • Flexible working hours

  • Freedom to travel on an international basis

  • Greater opportunities for development

  • Project variety

  • Training initiatives

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to leave your current employer, it's important you remember what they are and think rationally about what is best for you as an individual, before you respond to a counter offer.

No bad decision is the end of the world but if you make the choice to move, work with a recruiter who will support you every step of the way so that you are entirely confident you are moving to the correct company, role and progression path. Be bold, be courageous, and make the leap you have worked for.

About the Author


Dave Morley is Managing Consultant for Search Consultancy’s HR recruitment division in Manchester.

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