How To Manage A Counter Offer

It’s resignation time. Your new role is everything you always wanted; greater responsibility, scope to lead, broadening of your skills, some interesting project work and a real development opportunity.

You hand over your resignation letter and explain to your boss that you are leaving for pastures new, for all the reasons that you’ve probably been through in the past and have told yourself a hundred times. You are within touching distance of joining your new organisation after a lengthy and challenging recruitment process.

And then suddenly your employer makes a counter-offer. More money, greater prospects and a better work/life balance.

Perhaps you don’t need to move after all……or do you?

It’s time for some cool headed thinking and our tips below can help you through the process.

  1. Start by listing the reasons why you decided to start to look for another role in the first place.
  2. From that list, sort out what reasons are fundamental and which could be easily addressed.
  3. Think about where you want your career to go and which company can best give you that development.
  4. Think about trust and respect. Which company is showing you the greatest trust and is offering you the most respect as a professional.
  5. Think about the company you work for now and look at the reasons they haven’t been able or willing to meet your needs to-date. Will those reasons still be there immediately, or even in 6-12 months, despite the new title and pay rise?
  6. Find a person you respect for being logical and who would only want the best for you. Talk all of these things through with them. You don’t want them to make a decision for you but just talking it through helps consolidate your thinking.
  7. Ultimately you need to take the opportunity that will be right for the foreseeable future, not just right at this moment. Which role and company do you see that happening at?
  8. If you have been working with an agency, call the recruiter and let them know what’s happening.

Whatever your decision you now need to communicate it in a way that burns no bridges but also avoids long running negotiations. So let’s look at how you deliver your decision.

You decide to reject the counter offer.

Ask for a meeting as soon as possible as your existing company will be anxious to know what you are thinking. In that meeting be clear that you have reached a final decision. So for example you could start with words along the lines of ‘I really appreciate your offer and I have enjoyed my time here at XYZ, but I feel it is time to move on and this new role will offer me a change of both job and environment. I’ve thought about it carefully overnight, spoken with a close friend who knows me well, and I am sure that I have made the right decision in moving on’. Be firm but constructive, burn no bridges.

You decide to accept the counter offer.

Talk to your existing company before you do anything else and make sure you fully understand the offer and its consequences. Test your own decision making and ensure before you withdraw from your new role that you are making the right decision.

Once that is done, then you need to start communicating.

This can be a more delicate situation. Let’s assume you have accepted the new role either verbally or in writing and it’s through an agency. You now need to manage that so as not to damage your reputation as a candidate with both the recruiter and the prospective employer. This isn’t easy and you need to be sensitive to the time and effort people have put into the process. Of course, you should have kept your recruitment consultant up to date throughout this time so this news won’t come completely out of the blue. Be prepared for the prospective employer (and recruiter) to be disappointed after the time they have put in to the process to date. Be cognisant of this and when delivering the news, be polite but firm. It is also important to write to all parties to pass on your thanks and apologies for not taking the offer. It might even be worthwhile suggesting a follow up meeting when the dust has settled, with the aim of keeping the relationship alive.

Finally, this is your career, your life. Make the decision that’s right for you.