Last week I had the unfortunate situation where a candidate accepted a counter offer. Counter offers are a normal part of the recruitment process and in the last two years I have only had a couple of instances where one was accepted and one of those was last week. So given that I thought I’d write something about it for the blog as it’s an issue that candidates often ask me about as we move through the process.
When I meet a candidate for the first time the first question I normally ask is “why are you looking to move jobs?”. If the answer that comes back relates to money I normally pack them straight off back to their current employer and tell them to discuss it with them. 17 years has taught me that this is a classic counter offer scenario and the time invested by me and clients will be more than likely wasted. If the only thing you want is more money your current employer can give you that if they feel you are worthy of it. If, however, you are looking for career growth, greater responsibility and to expand your skills then for me the process can begin. As a recruiter all of these reasons need to be documented because if the counter offer does surface then the reasons given for moving need to be revisited with the candidate so that they are refocused and realigned.
As a candidate, if you do receive a counter-offer to entice you to stay, and that’s what it is, an enticement, be very wary. No matter how good it makes you feel to have your current employer respond with a counter offer, my statistics gathered over the last 17 years show that the vast majority of employees who accept counter offers from current employers aren’t in those jobs for very long. Whether the employer admits it or not, your dedication will be questioned and once that happens your time in the job is limited. It’s worth breaking it down to the stark reality that is that from walking through the door of your bosses office to walking back out again has resulted in a pay hike. Ask yourself these questions:
Weren’t you worth the new pay level anyway?
Why did you have to resign to get it?
It is far better to tactfully decline the offer and focus on your new job with your new employer.
Okay there may be circumstances where you are offered more responsibility and greater opportunity. The reality is though that you’ll be more than likely looking again inside 9 months as the playing field wasn’t that level to start with. My advice to employers who have employees walk through the door with an envelope and a sheepish look on their face is to let them go. By all means question why they are leaving and do an exit interview as part of the process but let them go.
I guess from there the most important job search rule to remember when resigning from any job is that if possible you never want to leave on bad terms, mainly because doing so could come back to haunt you later in your career. Courtesy and professionalism go a long way in all walks of life. It’s worth remembering that the job search is a funny process and you never know when you’ll run into your former supervisor, a former colleague, or a former employer. So when writing your letter of resignation, be professional. Regardless of whether you loved or hated your job or your employer, the outcome should be the same: a short, polite, and professional letter stating your intention to leave on a specific date.
My candidate took the money last week rather than moving onto the next stage in his career. The reality for him is that he is now being paid more money to do a job that isn’t stretching him and had already left him quite bored. Those were his words at interview, not my interpretation of the situation. The saddest part for me is that he has turned down an opportunity to work with cutting edge technology and some of the brightest minds in the broadcast media space. I respect his choices, it’s his life after all. I think someone once sang that money can’t buy you love. In this case as with most counter offers, that is just so true.