How to Handle a Counteroffer

You’ve made it through the toughest stages of finding a new job. You’ve updated your CV and dazzled the hiring manager in your interview. Now you’ve been offered your dream role and you’ve given your manager your notice. Done and dusted, right?

Then all of a sudden, it’s not. Your employer surprises you with an extremely enticing offer to make you reconsider your resignation, leaving you in a quandary. Should you stay or should you go?

It’s easy to lose your composure when confronted with a counteroffer, but this is a moment when it’s vital to think clearly. Here’s what you need to be thinking about if your employer tries to make you an offer you can’t refuse.

Why did you want to leave in the first place?

If salary was your main motivation for looking for a new role, then the counteroffer is certainly worth consideration, especially if it’s higher than your salary in your new role. On the other hand, if you were feeling frustrated, undervalued or keen for a new challenge, then these things probably aren’t going to change even if you do secure a significant salary increase.

After all, 80% of candidates who accept a counteroffer end up leaving anyway within 6 months, often because they let a counteroffer distract them from their real reasons for wanting to leave.

Why did it take a resignation to prompt the pay rise?

If it does come down to the money and you’d rather not leave, it’s important to make a judgement on whether you’re going to have to go through the drama of handing in your resignation every time you want a pay rise.

If what you’re asking for is reasonable, but your manager has to be forced into a corner before they give you a raise, it’s a sign that they’re not seeing your real value, and you might be better off working elsewhere.

Be aware of the wider market

  • Although counteroffers can seem like a step up, if you do accept a counteroffer that results in a substantial increase in salary, you may end up being overpaid compared to the market rate for your level of experience.
  • That could make an external move in the future challenging, as your remuneration then won’t accurately reflect your value in the market. As a result, especially if you have financial commitments, you may find yourself trapped in the very role you originally wanted to leave.

What does the future hold for you with your existing employer?

If your employer has offered you a pay increase, this could be a quick fix and doesn’t necessarily mean they see you remaining with them in the long term. After all, if your manager does give you a pay rise, they’re still saving money relative to the cost of finding your replacement. But will your employer continue to trust you and be happy to develop you if they think you are looking at new opportunities?

Once your employer knows that you’ve been interviewing elsewhere, you have effectively demonstrated that you have the potential to be disloyal to the company. As a result, you may no longer be seen as a team player, and could potentially be the first out of the door if there is an internal reorganisation.

Why were you interested in the new role in the first place?

Dissatisfaction with your current role is unlikely to be the only reason you applied for your new role. Something excited you about the new employer and job, so it’s important to ask yourself if your existing employer can offer the same. Is it really worth missing out on an exciting opportunity in favour of a pay rise that’s unlikely to mask the frustrations that made you want to leave in the first place?

In most cases an external move brings the greatest opportunities for both career progression and growth in earning potential, so if you do find yourself confronted with a counteroffer that makes your head spin, take a deep breath and pause to reflect.

Running through the questions above should help to remind you of the fundamental reasons why you want to move and prevent you from being dazzled by that tempting counteroffer.

If you do refuse that counteroffer and make it clear to your manager that you’re set on leaving, how should you conduct yourself for the rest of your notice period? Read the final article in our series to find out.

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Shaun Castrey

11th September

Career Advice


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