How to Handle a Counter-Offer

You think you’ve got through the tough stages of finding a new job; sorting out your resume, performing well at interview, being offered your dream role and resigning. Done and dusted. But it’s not – your employer then makes you an enticing offer to make you reconsider your resignation, leaving you in a quandary. Do you stay or do you go?
While there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer for the tricky subject of the employment counter-offer, we at Michael Page Human Resources have been witness to many different versions over the years.

Here are our points to consider when you’re presented with a new job offer, and your current employer is keen for you to stay.
Weigh up the new internal offer and thoroughly as you are looking at the external option. Which makes the best use of your skills and will develop your career in the direction you’d like to take it? How to you feel about the business and your existing and potential new manager? Which offers the best financial reward in conjunction with the other opportunities on offer?

If you’re worth your increased salary and responsibilities, why wasn’t this recognized before you handed in your notice? Part of your frustration from the outset may be that you’re undervalued, and if it takes your resignation for this to be noticed you may be better off with an organization that is less reactive in helping you fulfill your career ambitions.

If it’s not about the money: A counter-offer may not just be about a pay rise, it could aim to address other key motivators like level of responsibly or work/life balance. But unless salary was the sole purpose for looking at new opportunities, counter-offers are rarely the answer. In our experience, most people who accept them find themselves looking for a new job a few months later, when the situation that caused them to explore the market still hasn’t been resolved.
Once your employer knows that you’ve been interviewed elsewhere, you demonstrate that you have the potential to be disloyal to the company. You may no longer be seen as a team player, and could potentially be first out the door if there is an internal reorganization.

If you do accept a counter-offer that results in a substantial increase in salary, you may end up being overpaid compared to the market rate for your level of experience. This could make an external move in the future challenging, as your remuneration won’t accurately reflect your value in the market.
Working at an organization for a period of time means you’ve built up equity, whether it’s the relationships you’ve developed or your service record.
If you decide not to stick with your current employer, use it as an opportunity to thank them for the offer and reiterate that while you enjoyed your time with the organization, you remain firm in your decision to leave. There’s little point at this stage in burning bridges by listing everything you felt was wrong with the organization and your role. You never know when you’ll encounter your old manager again.

Most people make the most dramatic improvements to their career progression, immediate and long-term earning potential by making an external move, but that doesn’t mean that the most positive move for you is necessarily one outside your company. If the deal offered by your current employer changes, it deserves fair consideration at least.

The counter offer situation can be a tricky one to handle, so if you’re unsure speak to your Michael Page consultant for more advice on how to proceed.