How to handle a counter-offer

Man on phone in the day

Small talent pools, limited hiring budgets and restricted training resources often motivate employers to present counter-offers to valuable employees who are about to resign. 

These could be in the form of pay raises, bonuses or promotions. 

Enhanced financial remuneration is frequently accompanied by promises of internal promotion or lateral skill enhancement opportunities, such as exposure to more exciting projects or initiatives, or even perks such as flexible working hours.

While such offers may tempt professionals to re-consider their resignations, here are some reasons why you should think twice before accepting a counter-offer. 

Your professional priorities

Although counter-offers are often very flattering as well as potentially lucrative, remember why you wanted to leave in the first place. Question why it has taken the threat of resignation to prompt this appreciation of your worth and what would have happened had you not looked elsewhere.

In our experience, many professionals who accept counter-offers often restart their job search in two to six months time. This is because counter-offers usually don't resolve the issues that led them to consider leaving – especially if they involve non-financial reasons such as the lack of a conducive corporate culture. 

It is important to feel secure about the reasons that motivated you and the process you went through to seek a different job. Those reasons must have been important enough for you to even begin the hunt for a new job. Do not let counter-offers waver your decision or cloud your judgement mainly because they imply that you are, suddenly, wanted by your current employer.

Remember that hiring a new employee and finding talent to replace you takes time, effort, and money. Because of this, counter-offers may just be a way for employers to avoid dealing with the disruption that your departure could cause.  

 Be aware of reputational risk

Be aware that accepting a counter-offer can lead to stigma or the perception of being disloyal to the group and management team and may influence behaviours. 

If you accept a counter-offer after having already accepted another job offer, colleagues and other professionals might view you as indecisive or as an unreliable team player, and lose trust in you. This might affect your professional prospects in the company over the long term.

Question why it has taken the threat of resignation to prompt this appreciation of your worth and what would have happened had you not looked elsewhere.

Additionally, the hiring manager of the other company will remember that you took a counter-offer and may view you in a negative light. Chances are that this will hurt your reputation in your industry and limit your employment prospects in the future.

Ensure an amicable separation

Remember that references from former employers are often crucial to your future career prospects. If you choose not to accept the counter-offer, try to ensure an amicable separation. 

Reassure your manager that you came to this decision after much deliberation, resisting the urge to highlight any negative experiences. Explain that you appreciate the time spent in the organisation and the valuable experiences it has given you. 

Be empathetic and maintain good relationships with your industry networks.

Speak to our Robert Walters consultants for support and advice

If you are having doubts about how to best handle a counter-offer, speak to any of our Robert Walters consultants who can talk through your particular situation further.

For more career advice information, please contact our specialist recruiters at +65 6228 0200 or email singapore@robertwalters.com.

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