Updated: Mar 14, 2022
Congratulations, you’ve accepted a new job! Your accomplishments, experience and networking got you in the door, where you then dazzled the hiring team throughout the interview process and were able to negotiate a great offer to grow your career. Everything is lining up, you’ve made up your mind and you’re ready to move on, right? Enter the counteroffer.
All of the certainty and pride you felt with your new offer is called into question, and you’re forced to answer some difficult questions. What if you stay? Will this counteroffer solve the problems you were wanting to leave? Can you continue to grow at this company? Is it worth the risk of starting over? All of these are fair, albeit difficult, questions to answer, but are they the only questions to consider? We say: definitely not!
Hiring companies and managers have a well-known statistic they share that suggests counteroffers are a temporary, short term solution to a larger problem, for you and your employer. Upwards of 90% of accepted counteroffers result in the employee leaving the company within 12 months. At TalentFund, we pride ourselves in funding talent for clients, but it is critical to us that we advocate for our talent just as much. Part of that advocacy is using our experience to help you navigate your career change, positioning ourselves as allies to you for your long term, rather than short term, success. When that is questioned with a counteroffer, our advocacy comes from asking, and answering, three extra questions.
1. Can trust be maintained?
If you give notice, and then accept a counteroffer, you can never fully revoke your resignation. Your company, boss, maybe even colleagues, may have a difficult time forgetting your willingness to leave. Some hiring managers say that the threat to leave followed by acceptance of a counteroffer, feels like blackmail.
As for you, you may now question your company and boss for quickly jumping to keep you, only after you plan to leave. If the value and respect was felt by both parties, you should never get to the counteroffer step.
A survey conducted by The Harvard Business Review1, interviewing senior leaders and HR managers, found that 60-80% of participants reported diminished trust for employees after a counteroffer is accepted. How important is trust to you in your career?
2. Would this affect my reputation?
The same study found that 40% of participants agreed that accepting a counteroffer from your current employer will adversely affect your career in some way. While it may seem like you are doing your employer a favor by staying, allowing them to avoid backfilling your role, spending time and money to train or hire someone new, you also showed them you were prepared to leave and may no longer be viewed as loyal. Furthermore, your current company now knows that you revoked an accepted offer to the new company, which could further minimize your integrity.
Another consideration is your reputation within the industry. It is rare that candidates are making moves into entirely new industries, which means that paths are likely to cross throughout the longevity of your career. A pristine resume meeting every qualification requested may help you reopen a closed door, but your reputation may cause concern for hiring managers going forward. Your network is one of your greatest allies, be careful not to burn a bridge you may need to cross again one day.
3. Do my values line up?
Good companies say they value their employees, great companies show they value employees through proactive compensation, improved benefits or recognition. When choosing a company to work for, you also choose their values. It is crucial to review the values of all sides, especially your own, when considering an offer versus counteroffer. Force yourself to step back and evaluate what drove you to desire a career change. The foundational elements of a company and their values, rarely change with a counteroffer.
While our general recommendation is to decline counteroffers, we are also realistic and recognize that some counteroffer scenarios do work out. With research and professionals saying 90% don’t work long term, 10% do work long term. With that hope, we offer this piece of advice to consider optimal career growth, look at how the counteroffer is presented. As you know, promotions and raises take time to prepare, so on the spot formal counters are unlikely. If your company presents a new opportunity for you immediately, confidently upon your resignation, it could mean their timing is their biggest fault, not their values.
Above all else, ff you still find yourself unsure of a counteroffer, weigh your options, remember what drove you to even entertain a new offer and talk to your mentor or TalentFund team to help make the best long term decision for you.