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Preparing yourself for counter-offers and choosing the right opportunity

An ever-so-typical curve ball in the job hunting process is your current employer upping the ante by responding to your resignation with financial incentives, a promotion or verbal pleas or “promises.” When presented with an alternative offer, what is best to choose?

Whatever form a counter-offer comes in, they tend to have an alluring and sometimes illusive effect and candidates who accept counter-offers often regret their decision within a matter of months and restart the job hunt process from scratch.

The best stance to take when receiving a counter-offer is to be prepared to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Can your current role offer what you desire?

At Conrad, when candidates begin the job searching process, the question we encourage candidates to ask themselves is;

What is motivating you to seek a new role and can these motivations be achieved in your current role?

The ultimate outlook to avoid the confusing counter-offer is to be proactive.

If, for example, you’re enjoying your job but are seeking a new role purely for financial gain; have you spoken to your employer about a pay-rise? It could save you time and effort and it will show your employer that your preferred option to seek a pay-rise is by remaining loyal to the business.

Being a loyal team member pays dividends in terms of opportunities and job security, especially when businesses reorganise.

In some cases, candidates who have sought a pay rise within their current company have viewed a job offer elsewhere as ideal leverage to approach their boss about a pay-rise. Not only is this time-wasting it also unveils an underlying issue with your current role. Engineering an ultimatum for your boss to recognise your significance would suggest that you are in an environment where your employer shows little interest in assisting your career progression, unless forced – so you would really need to ask yourself, is this somewhere that you can realistically progress moving forward?

Whether your motivations are financial; responsibility; commute; job satisfaction; project exposure; or work/life balance driven (or even something else) - before hitting apply, ensure you think about how you would view a counter-offer in the event of resigning to start a new job.

From the start, identify the main objectives that have led you to seek employment elsewhere and align your decision making with these throughout the whole job seeking process, to ensure your new offer works for you. Relating your offers back to your motivations is a good way of making the right decision and can help you assess a counter-offer instead of being blinded by a few extra pennies on your pay-cheque.

Determine the cost of a counter-offer:

Although we can take steps to prevent a surprise counter-offer, it doesn’t rule them out.

A counter-offer complicates the decision making when thinking objectively about your incentives so it’s important to evaluate all aspects of your career when comparing opportunities.

An Offer SWOT analysis grid is a useful framework to pin the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your offers and can help to aid your deliberation. There are definite benefits to staying with your current employer, especially when you’ve been there for a while. Workplace relationships, reputation and security can take time to establish and accepting a counter-offer means you don’t have to walk away from what you have built in your current role.

Accepting a counter-offer does not come without it’s costs:

-          Damaged reputation - harming your reputation in the market by wasting companies valuable time and declining the offer(s) to work with them.

-          Decreased job security – accepting a counter-offer shows your employer that you were looking to leave may suggest that your loyalty is not completely aligned with the business and could raise questions about your integrity long-term.

-          Wasting an opportunity – our figures show that over 80% of companies would choose not to re-interview a candidate who has declined an offer from them previously. You could be damaging your options for a career move later down the line.

-          Robbing your future opportunities – accepting a counter-offer for a salary drastically above market average can seem great but think long-term. The next time you undergo a job hunt, it can be hard to consider exciting jobs as the salaries offered are no longer sufficient and it can be hard to market yourself when similarly skilled candidates are interviewing for the same positions but looking for a lower salary.

-          Waste of your time – undergoing the recruitment process can often involve using up holiday allowance or taking time away from the office.

Assume the right outlook to make your decision:

The allure can be enough to momentarily break you away from your motivations for seeking a new role and lead you to think short-term - don’t let it!

Be prepared and assess the proposition with a long-term outlook – what is the best outcome for you?

Skilled team members are a valuable asset in any business and the impact of you leaving can be enough to spark panic. Is your employer able sustain the increased remuneration or promises proposed over a longer period, or are they thinking short-term to dodge the impact of you leaving? If your employer holds so much value in you, why has it taken a counter-offer to make your boss realise your value and make changes to recognise and reward your significance to the business? If you’re moving because of the commute and they offer you a better salary, how long will the counter-offer gratify you – or is your new offer the right option to take?

Receiving a counter-offer is an endorsement of you and in some cases after exploring your options, it can be the best decision for you. Job searching is not something to be taken lightly and the cost of thinking short-term can cut your opportunities short in future. Assuming a long-term outlook and thoroughly considering the strengths and opportunities at play is the best way to make sure your counter-offer is not counter-productive. 


Author: Nick Grayston; Regional Director

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