Be prepared for a counter-offer when resigning, says Claudio Rojas.
Your career has stagnated over the past few years so you decide to look for a new role outside the company you’ve been at for most of your working life. After a challenging interview process, you’re offered an amazing opportunity with a new firm.
It’s a tough decision but you accept the role. Now for the emotional conversation with your boss, who you’ve known for years, to say you’re leaving. They understand but ask you not to put it in writing just yet.
Twenty-four hours later, you’re offered a significant pay rise and a new title. The infamous counter-offer. Now you don’t know what to do.
Counter-offers can be confusing
Leaving a job can be difficult. Being put under pressure to stay and having your reasons for leaving challenged or undermined doesn’t make it any easier.
Even though you worked hard to get the new role and have been really looking forward to it, you find yourself thinking that perhaps you do owe something to your current employer. Does this make you disloyal and will the company suffer unfairly if you leave?
Will you fit in as well with the organisation that has offered you a job? What if you fail in your new role? Why has your company tabled a counter-offer?
Obviously it’s highly flattering to receive a counter-offer. It’s a sign of your unrivalled importance and value, and a demonstration of the lengths your employer will go to keep you on board.
Counter-offers are common
Our data shows that in technical positions, more than 80 per cent of candidates receive counter-offers.
But the reasons for the counter-offer aren’t necessarily in your best interests.
These may include:
- Replacing an employee can be expensive and even with the generous pay increase, keeping you is the cheaper option;
- It might mess up their budget to recruit that time of year;
- They haven’t got time to recruit right now;
- They want you to provide cover while they hunt for your replacement;
- They want you to finish the project you are working on;
- They don’t have the time to train someone new at the moment; and
- Your boss is thinking of leaving and you leaving would make this more difficult.
Should I stay or should I go?
There is rarely a good reason to accept a counter-offer and stay where you are. You wanted to move, you’ve successfully been through the recruitment process, scoring a job that meets your criteria.
Why weren’t your skills, expertise and performance recognised in your last pay review? And even with a different job title (‘senior’ added), won’t you just be offered the same career development prospects, challenges and responsibilities that led you to look elsewhere?
Unknown factors worth considering
- From the day of your resignation, your loyalty will be in question and is likely to prevent future promotions;
- Your colleagues will treat you differently because you don’t really want to be there, do you?
- Your boss is likely to look for your replacement whether you stay or not;
- Has the real reason you resigned been adequately addressed?
- Why feel guilty? Would the company think twice about getting shot of you if the chips were down?
- Someone else will take the excellent opportunity you turned down – will the opportunity arise again?
How to handle a counter–offer
Don’t let an unexpected counter-offer stop you in your tracks. Take it in your stride, thank your employer for the opportunity and reaffirm your intention to leave.
But if you decide to accept the counter-offer, don’t be naïve; it won’t mean your resignation has been forgotten. You are going to have to work extremely hard to win back your employer’s trust.
You’ll have to strive harder than your colleagues to prove your loyalty and worth. Your new post-resignation life with your old company won’t be easy so don’t believe accepting a counter is the safe option.
Claudio Rojas is managing director at Alex Young Recruitment
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