Avalon Insights

News and advice for candidates and hiring managers.

Should I stay or should I go – The Counter Offer

Stacked Dice

When I first started as a recruiter many years ago as a rookie, our in-house trainer would talk to us in big booming tones about the counter offer. How terrible it was and how it was our duty to make sure all our candidates knew that it was a heinous and cowardly act and that recruiting gods would be watching and their career track would never be the same again.

It always seemed disingenuous to me.  As a recruiter it is no secret to candidates that we get paid if you take the job.  So when I lectured about counter offers it always seemed to me that the candidates just glazed over and didn’t really take on the message.

In fact I will let you in on a secret – early in my career I took a counter offer.  The same thing happened to me that happens to a lot of people.  I was bored in my job, wanted to be challenged, promoted and my commute was LONG.  So I talked to my boss numerous times and he smiled and made promises.   I left his office happy but guess what?

Nothing changed.

I realised my issues were not fixable, so I interviewed with a competitor.  It was a big shiny new company with a beautiful glass filled office in downtown Melbourne (I was living in Australia at the time) they offered me an amazing opportunity to work in that sparkly office on more money.  So I skipped back to my boss to let him know.  He was distraught and begged me to stay, promising the world and more plus matching the salary the shiny new company offered me.

Guess what?

I stayed, it was easier.  However after a few months for multiple reasons I wished I had left.

Let’s fast forward to how I use my experience to help our candidates at Avalon to navigate through the counter offer stage.  The candidates we work with at Avalon are smart and we like to work with the best.  I am always there for support and guidance but ultimately they will make their own decisions.  Making a job change is a process, you have to walk along the path and take the information on board to make an informed choice.

I always ask candidates to jot down why they are looking for a change right at the start of the process.  When their current employer gets to the crying stage, I ask them to dig out the list  and reflect on their reasons for interviewing.   Roughly 60% of our candidates receive a counter offer so it’s a normal part of the process – it happens to a lot of our candidates.

Here are some things to consider about counter offers:

  1. Nothing has changed. Your current company may have offered you a pay rise (finally) to match your new offer but all of the issues that prompted you to interview are still there.
  2. A change is as good as a rest. Your future employer is seeing value in what you have to offer, something that your current employer does not see.  Grab the opportunity with both hands and see where it takes you.
  3. It is easier. It is so much easier to stay where you are, it’s comfortable BUT brilliance comes from stretching yourself and moving away from comfortable. Change brings transformation.
  4. Too little too late. Why is your employer only offering you more money when presented with your resignation letter? Were you not worth more money before?  Answer YES.
  5. Broken Trust. Your boss will always be expecting you to leave. The trust is broken and they will think you are “Open to Opportunities”.
  6. Time for the numbers. Did you know 80% of candidates that accept a counter offer end up leaving within 6 months and 9 out of 10 leave within 12 months?  Statistics show that taking a counter offer is often not the best move for your career.
  7. Teamwork makes the dream work. If your team mates know you were interviewing but ended up taking a counter they may question your integrity and if they can trust you.
  8. Redundancies.Your decision to interview with other companies and lack of loyalty may affect your employment if your company is forced to lay off team members.
  9. Guilt. Don’t let your employer guilt trip you into staying.  You need to focus on the future and what you are moving towards.  Yes, your bosses life may be slightly tougher when you leave while they look for a replacement but keep the emotion out of the transaction and focus on your future.
  10. Top-grading. When you take that counter offer and increase your salary, employers may try to find a replacement candidate that costs less and fits better in the department budget.

If you MUST take a counter offer, and I know its tempting (I fell into the same trap) please get everything in writing.  Don’t go dark and ghost the recruiter and let the shiny new prospective employer down with grace.


Zoe Temmerman
Recruiting Partner

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