How to Handle a Counteroffer
Counteroffers are becoming increasingly more common, especially in niche technology verticals, where experts are sparse. It’s no surprise that when unexpectedly faced with an employee handing in their notice, the companies first reaction is to try and keep them. Often this is by increasing or bettering the remuneration offered by the new employer.
It can feel very flattering to have 2 companies vying for you, but it’s important to remember your motivations. If this was purely a financial gain, then the answer is obvious, you go with the highest offer. However, the reason for changing jobs is rarely that straight forward.
The biggest questions you should be asking yourself when dealing with a counteroffer are:
“Why did I look to leave in the first place?”
“Why didn’t my employer do this before I resigned?”
Your new company has taken you through a process of interviews, assessed your ability, decided they want to bring you into their team, and have made you an offer based on the value and worth they feel you can bring. When your current employer counteroffers, are they really saying they feel you're worth that? If yes, then why hadn’t they recognised this and increased your salary before? Or is it because they understand the cost and disruption of you not being there can bring. Perhaps they deem it cheaper and easier to just increase your salary than recruit a replacement?
Throughout your job search, the role itself will have been of utmost importance. Your new employer is likely to have offered a step forward in your career; working on higher value accounts, management responsibilities, or simply presented an environment that doesn’t have the same irks you’re currently experiencing. This is much harder for your current employer to match, understandably, they can’t magically create a more senior position for you to move into or change the culture overnight. Instead, they may make promises about being next in line for a promotion and plans they have for your career. Can you really trust the reliability of these promises, given they’ve been presented in a pressurised situation?
Additionally, if you do accept a purely financial counteroffer, does this mean your company are now going to expect more of you and will they be resentful for provoking this unexpected cost increase?
Trust is a fragile thing. Looking for a new job suggests there has been a break down in your relationship and your employer will also have felt this when you handed your notice in. Statistics show that 80% of candidates who accept a counteroffer from their current employer leave within 6 months, a stat your employer will be aware of. The counteroffer is a good way for them to be able to manage your exit, giving themselves time to start looking for an inevitable replacement.
The breakdown in relationship could also impact your job security. As mentioned, your employer may not have counter offered because they feel that’s your worth and therefore could quickly become unhappy with paying, what they deem as “over the odds” for you. Similarly, if a situation arises where redundancies are being made, you could find yourself high on the list.
Counteroffers are a tricky circumstance to manage. A new job presents a risk and an element of the unknown, whereas your current position is assured. Sometimes the offer of more money can tip the scales to what you know. Counteroffers are a short-term fix and don’t address the real reason you started to look. When the reality starts to creep back in, those problems reoccur, and you find yourself looking at the market again. Of course, assess your counteroffer but always keep in mind the reason that prompted your search. More often than not, your long-term potential is fulfilled by your new employer.