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Accepting a counter offer – Should I stay, or should I go?

You’ve got one foot out the door of your current workplace, when your employee throws a counter offer in the ring. Companies are justifiably eager to retain their top talent, especially in such a competitive market. But what should you do now?

A counter offer is certainly enticing and flattering, but equally comes with its own set of risks and limitations. If you find yourself in this situation, our advice is to truly consider what the right decision is for your future, for several reasons which we’ll explore below.


Revisit your motives

Step one should be to revisit what originally motivated you to leave. If the counter offer on the table doesn’t address all of your reasons, then accepting it may leave you dissatisfied in the long run.

Darren Frlan – State Manager Victoria, Paxus shares that he has “seen many people accept counter offers throughout my 26 years in the talent acquisition game. Often, they don’t work out. If you resigned because you didn’t feel valued at your current job, a sum of money isn’t going to change that. If you resigned because you were offered a better role elsewhere, a counter offer isn’t going to match the new opportunity. And, if you resigned because you weren’t happy with your current situation, a counter offer isn’t going to suddenly make you happy.”


What’s your comfort zone?

Accepting a job offer should enable the exploration of new horizons and opportunities that will stimulate and challenge you. If a counter offer allows that, great! But do consider whether you are drawn to it because it’s a comfortable and familiar option that addresses some of your needs, or whether it will genuinely allow you to progress your career.

If you’re looking to build upon skills and be challenged in a new role or company, then staying in your comfort zone may halt growth and transformation. Putting yourself out there and welcoming change, could be a great step to opening doors you never even knew existed – but you have to be willing to take a chance.


A counter offer could be a band aid solution

If your reasons for seeking change go beyond a salary increase, then be extra conscious of accepting a counter offer. A pay rise is obviously attractive, but cultural issues are not always easily mended and are often more impactful on a daily basis than salary issues.

Yugal Bhatia, Principal Recruitment Consultant at Paxus, urges candidates to “look beyond the dollar signs. A salary increase could be distracting you from the underlying issues that instigated your job hunt to begin with.

People, processes, and culture can’t be transformed overnight. And no sum of money can magically make deep rooted issues disappear. If you’re going to stay – do it for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.”


Trust in your personal development

A counter offer means your employer clearly values your skills, knowledge and effort at this point in time. However, once your employer knows you're looking elsewhere, there’s a chance it could become difficult to manage a positive and trusting relationship into the future.

The situation might create doubts in their mind and potentially a reluctance to invest in you longer term. This in turn, could affect your personal development moving forward.

Yugal encourages candidates to consider the potential motives behind the counter offer. “It’s often in the company’s best interest to keep you, irrespective of your value. A counter offer could be a short-term strategy, as companies frequently set KPI’s around employee retention.”

Further to this, Darren explains that “Employers can utilise counter offers to stall and buy time, until they find your replacement.”

When you’re asked to consider a counter offer, it’s important to understand what it could mean in both the short and long term. And, whether this aligns with your future aspirations.


Future finances

A counter offer means your employer values you enough to determine you’re worthy of a higher salary. We suggest pausing to consider what this could mean for your salary timeline. If this pay point hasn’t been offered previously, will this offer impact what you might receive in the future?

“It’s possible your current employer has brought forward an inevitable pay rise now, as opposed to when it’s due” explains Yugal. “If they’ve stretched the budget for you now, the chances of getting another raise in the near future are slim. A counter offer is a gamble, that could impact your career and personal finances for years to come.”

Yugal emphasises the importance of “Taking this opportunity to do some research using a pay scale to find out what you should be earning in the current market. Or chatting to a reputable recruiter who can provide invaluable insights about your salary expectations.”


An opportunity regardless

We recommend using this roundabout as an opportunity to evaluate what you really want. A counter offer forces you to stop and consider what’s truly important to you and your career. Is it money? Flexibility? Teammates? Mentorship opportunities? Support? There are some things money can’t buy. And, this situation poses a great chance to reassess your priorities, irrespective of what you decide.

Finally, end things gracefully, professionally, and respectfully whichever avenue you choose to take. Regardless of your decision, be sure to thank the hiring manager, potential employer or recruiter for the time and energy they invested into you.

If you’re feeling stagnant in your career – we can help! As one of the leading IT recruitment agencies in Australia, we have a range of new opportunities available. Browse through our currently advertised positions and let us help you secure your next role.

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