Counter offers and how to avoid them

Steven Fulop - September 17, 2018

In today’s competitive job market, counter offers are becoming increasingly common as employers strive to retain top talent. Steven Fulop, Director of u&u Greater Western Sydney, shares how to limit the chances and stress of counter offers.

Firstly, what is a counter offer?

You go to resign and your boss tells you they will make it worth your while to stay. Counter offers can take many forms including; salary increases, more flexible work arrangements, new job titles, travel reimbursements, more training and mentoring, promotions, or additional responsibilities or projects.

“My experience in recruitment shows me that only 25-30% of candidates who accept counter offers stay with that company for longer than 12 months,” shares Steven.
So, how can you avoid making this mistake and potentially costing yourself a great job opportunity?

Key tip: Don’t find yourself in that position in the first place!

Have the conversation with your employer early. Discuss potential reasons for looking for a new role with your existing employer before you start your job search. I will always ask my candidates to do this before they start searching externally.

This is the crux of all new career searches: why do you want to leave? Sometimes, this conversation helps to resolve issues; in other situations, it provides you with the clarity that it really is time to look for other roles, (either way, you’ve made progress!)

During such conversations, honesty and transparency with employers is always the best policy. You should make every attempt to voice your concerns upfront in a professional manner.

  • If you feel like you are being underpaid, ask for a pay-rise and justify it.
  • If you want your job title changed, ask for it and suggest a new one.
  • If you feel you are bored in your job and want more challenges, ask your manager for more projects that will deepen your experience.
  • If you are having issues with some colleagues internally, discuss an action plan with your manager to resolve these issues.
  • If lengthy travel to and from work is lowering your quality of life, or if you need to drop your kids off at school, try and negotiate for more flexible work arrangements.

At least you will know up-front whether a commitment can be made to address the original underlying issues that are leading you into the job market. If those commitments can’t be made, then it’s time to start searching.

Most of the time, it’s more than just money that candidates aren’t satisfied with. Unless salary was the sole purpose of looking for new roles, counter offers are very rarely the answer. In my experiences, most people who accept a counter offer come back to recruiters a few months later as the situation that caused them to explore the market remains unresolved. Companies are not proactive with retention until it starts to cause them pain.

As enticing as counter offers can be, if you have already had the upfront conversation about your concerns before searching, it is rare that anything would change. The question must be asked why these additional benefits are being offered NOW, after you resign, rather than before.




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