5 things to consider when presented with a counter offer

5 minutes

This is unlikely to be news to anyone, but most industries currently find themselves in a ca...

This is unlikely to be news to anyone, but most industries currently find themselves in a candidate-driven talent market. Skills shortages, advances in technology and a lack of junior hiring post-recession have all led to our present situation, where there are more jobs than available, appropriate candidates. This means that organisations are increasingly likely to present a counter offer when their top talent finds a new position elsewhere.

Now, many recruiters would advise you to always turn down a counter offer – no one wants to go through the process of finding the perfect candidate, only for them to decide to stay put – but at MRL we appreciate this is a complex decision. So, here’s our best advice on what to consider when presented with a counter offer.

What made you want to leave?

This is the first thing to think about when presented with a counter offer: what made you open to new opportunities in the first place? Counter offers are usually based around increased salary but money is not often the primary reason for beginning a new job search. According to research, the number one motivating factor behind a person leaving a job is lack of development opportunities. If you fall into that category, it’s likely you’ll be feeling the same way a little way down the line.

Why didn’t the offer come until you wanted to leave?

So many businesses don’t know what they’ve got until it’s gone – another reason for the rise in counter offers. This kneejerk response could be a sign that you are valued by your employer, even if it did take a while for this to be made evident. However, this again requires some long term thinking. Would this offer have been made soon if you weren’t leaving? Will your next payrise or promotion depend on securing a competing offer from elsewhere?

Think beyond the salary

Most counter offers centre around an increase in pay. Obviously this is tempting but there are other factors to consider. What does the whole benefits package look like? What are the training and development prospects? Who will you be working with and which organisation offers the most exciting opportunities?

You should also consider what your salary means in terms of the wider industry. Accepting a higher-than-average salary now could make it harder to move on in the future, as your salary may not be reflective of your true market value.

What does the future look like?

We’ve already mentioned that accepting the counter offer may mean resuming the job search shortly down the line but candidates should also consider their future relationship with their organisation if they decide to stay. Has the implicit trust between employee and employer been irreparably broken, or will you be able to get this back on track? This will not just affect your day-to-day work satisfaction but could lead to you being passed over for future promotions in favour of more “loyal” employees.

Negotiate your own best offer

Whatever you’ve been offered, it’s important to remember that you probably have more options than you think. If you’ve managed to secure a new opportunity and a counter offer then you hold the majority of the cards – so think about what’s most important to you and negotiate your way towards it. This doesn’t mean you should start making demands but leveraging yourself towards better benefits is more than acceptable.

No one enjoys change, and so it can be comforting to accept a counter offer, particularly if more money is on the table. But, considering the long term, it is often wiser to make the move now, rather than spend more time in an organisation that you had wanted to leave. More often than not we find that people who accept counter offers are searching for a new job six months later. Make sure that if you take the counter offer that this is more than a short term fix.

At MRL we focus on building longstanding relationships with the candidates we place, and part of this is always providing our best advice – even if it isn’t in our best interest. If you’d like to talk to us about your career opportunities, please get in touch.