Accepting a new job is a big decision with an inherent amount of risk involved. A new job means a big change; even if it’s a positive one it can still be a disruptive and overwhelming time for candidates. It is then – at this key moment of final decision – that counter offers often come into play. During this time of high stress and trepidation, it’s easy for candidates to be tempted by the “devil they know” and to consider accepting a counter offer. However, we have seen how this scenario tends to play out and would urge you to think long and hard before choosing consistency over development.
It’s no secret that counter offers are bad business for us recruiters, so it’s unsurprising that we aren’t big fans. However, even from the most objective standpoint we can achieve, we’ve found that these tempting saviors of the status-quo usually don’t do our candidates any favors. You’ve likely heard the statistics around the longevity of employees who take a counter offer (if you haven’t, suffice it to say that retention isn’t great), but it comes down to a lot more than the hard data. This is your career, after all. There is no black-and-white answer to the question of whether accepting a counter offer is the right decision for you, but we would urge you to consider a few key things before you turn down a chance to do something new.
1: First and foremost, ask yourself why were you looking at new opportunities in the first place.If you have gotten all the way to the point of receiving a counter offer, it’s far more than idle curiosity on your part. There was something else you wanted that this new role was offering. The only problems that the counter offer can fix are easy ones, like compensation or title. While those are often driving factors in seeking a new job, it’s rare that motives are so simple. It’s important to think critically about what you were trying to get away from before being tempted by the quick fixes found in the counter offer.
2: You should also ask yourself why they waited so long to make this offer.If it took the threat of losing you as an employee to realize your potential, then you may not have the best advocates by your side. You might get an immediate developmental opportunity through a counter offer, but what happens the next time you’re ready to take on new challenges? Do you have to threaten to leave just to get noticed? Sometimes it just comes down to timing, but often this lack of proactivity is a symptom of the culture of the organization and isn’t something that a counter offer will fix in the long-run.
3: Finally, Be mindful of your integrity. If you have signed and returned an offer letter, you have given your word in a very literal sense. We have, unfortunately, seen candidates pull out to accept a counter offer within mere days of their start-date. Not only did they burn a bridge with us, but they also did irreparable damage to their reputation with the leadership of the company left holding the bag. If you have gotten to the point of signing an offer letter, you should make sure that you truly mean it. If you need to explore counter offers before committing, then it’s certainly your right to do so. However, once you give your word, any breach of that contract reflects poorly on your integrity and character. It is a small world, and we have been doing this long enough to see these actions come back to haunt candidates down the road.
In short, only you can make the decision about whether accepting a counter offer is the right career move for you. We are certainly available to counsel and advise our candidates when this occurs, but only you know the right answer. When counter offers come into play, we urge you to set emotion aside and to take a critical look at your reasons for wanting a change and your prospects for continued development at your current employer. We also encourage candidates to bear in mind how crucial integrity is to their reputation and to think long and hard before they respond during the emotional time that accompanies making a job change.