A COUNTER OFFER? Well, I wasn't expecting that!
Congratulations, you got the job!
After weeks of interviewing you just landed your perfect role with a future employer that think you are a superstar. You have done the hard part, you recognised you were undervalued in your current company, that you career had started to stagnate, you need a fresh challenge and the opportunity to learn new skills. Mentally you have checked out, you just need to find a company that is going to make you jump out of bed every morning.
After some pretty tough interviews you have found a company who are ticking all of your boxes. They have recognised that you would be a great fit for the team and have just made you an amazing offer and you have accepted it.
Well done, hard part is over right? Well no. Now you have to hand your notice in and something you didn’t expect happens…. they beg you to stay and make you a counter offer. Were you wasn’t expecting that!?
It is the part of the job seeking process that no one talks about, but it is probably the hardest part. So, let’s talk about it now. Broadly speaking, I find that people want to leave their jobs for 3 reasons.
- They feel undervalued (financially or a lack of career progression)
- They are bored and need to learn something new,
- Or their work/life balance was way off.
For starters, I would always recommend a candidate to speak to their employer about these issues before job hunting. If you feel underpaid, ask for a raise. Want to learn something new? Ask for training. If they can’t (or won't) do it then it is time to look elsewhere.
So let’s hand that notice in and see what happens next:
Now you have handed in your notice your boss offers to match (or better) your offer to stay. Wow that’s awesome. But hang on a moment, when you asked for a raise a few weeks ago they said no, so what has changed? When I handed in my notice I was offered a ton of money and told all sorts of flattering things to try and convince me to stay (and I almost did stay) until I asked myself
“have I become a more valuable employee OR am I being told/offered all this because my manager doesn’t want to have to deal with the disruption of me leaving?”.
The answer was that my departure was too much of a headache to deal with so keeping me would have been cheap at any price. So, don’t waiver on your decision to leave. The deeper reasons that you were looking to leave in the first place won’t go away and you will kick yourself when you realise a few weeks later what a mistake it was to stay.
What people don’t expect during a counter offer is the deep emotional attack that employers subject their staff to. Big emotions come into play - FEAR, GUILT and VANITY are the three that I have noticed all tend to get played at some stage. It is amazing how employers can manipulate a candidates behaviour by playing on FEAR (“what if it all goes wrong at your new company?”), GUILT (“we made you, you can’t leave, you owe us”) and VANITY (“you are super important to the team and we had some big plans for you that we couldn’t tell you about”). It’s not a pleasant experience having all of these weighted down on you and it is an unpleasantly intense experience. You have to remember why you wanted to leave and stay strong.
WILL ANYTHING CHANGE?
It is easy for a company to promise the earth to a candidate to get them to stay (more money, a promotion, training). And it is easy to fall into the trap of believing it. Apart from the insult that it has taken you to hand in your notice to get this recognition, you have to ask yourself what is really going to change? Probably nothing. I have seen it happen (and it has happened to me once before) where a company promises the earth, but you need to turn down the offer from your new company now. Then the ball is kicked into the long grass and by the time you realise what a mistake you have made someone else has taken that plum job that could have been yours. Meanwhile you are back to square one, miserable in a company that you didn’t like working for anywayThere are loads of statistics online that quote the number of people who end up leaving their current job after accepting a counter offer (ClearSky report 67% of UK employees leave an employer 6 months after accepting a counter offer). It’s funny that the deeper reasons you wanted to leave don’t go away.
I am not going to lie and say turning down a counter offer is easy. There is a quagmire of issues to wade through, from money to being put through the emotional wringer. All I will say is that you need to stay strong, stay committed and when the counter offer comes, be polite and say “no thank you”.
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