When you’ve thought long and hard about leaving your current employer and heading for pastures new, it still takes determination to follow through and submit your resignation letter. Not only that, once you’ve informed your boss of your intentions and started to make plans, life can become further complicated if you then receive a counter offer.

In short, a counter offer is a response from your existing employer in response to an offer that’s been made by a potential new employer. While that may sound appealing, a counter offer can be a negative development as it can send a number of conflicting messages.

1 Underlying issue(s)
Accepting a counter offer may satisfy your desire for more money or more responsibility, but there’s no guarantee that the underlying issue(s) that caused you to want to leave have been resolved. There may be a short-term bounce, but it’s likely that the old issue(s) – whether a problem with your working conditions, your hours or your salary – may resurface and result in you leaving shortly afterwards. In addition, in general with a counter offer it’s only the level of salary that tends to change, and throwing money at a problem isn’t always the best solution.

2 Career progression
Evaluating a counter offer is normally a case of weighing up the salary on offer, and not the possibility for developing your career, which can be detrimental to your future progress. You spend considerable time and energy at work, so it’s important to ensure that you’re applying yourself to something that will generate rewards further down the line and that you won’t hit a glass ceiling too soon.

3 Loyalty
Announcing that you’re leaving and then accepting a counter offer to stay doesn’t create a great impression when it comes to loyalty, either with your employer or your colleagues. To some degree, handing in your resignation can harm the trust that exists between you and your boss, so there may be a greater likelihood of career progression with a different company.

4 Job satisfaction
If your resignation was prompted by dissatisfaction with your current job role, is a counter offer really likely to solve this? In reality, the job itself won’t have changed dramatically so you’ll just be being paid more to do a job that you still don’t enjoy. Building a career is all about planning to achieve your long-term goal, and accepting a short-term pay rise to stay where you are isn’t necessarily going to help you achieve it. An interesting statistic is that around 50% of people who accept a counter offer end up leaving for a different job within 12 months.

5 Appreciation
Conversely, it’s possible to interpret a counter offer as indicating that you weren’t fully appreciated until you handed your notice in. By upping your salary, your employer is confirming that that budget was available all the time, but it was only released for you when you decided to leave. Receiving recognition only when you threaten to walk away could even be interpreted as a lack of integrity on the part of the employer too. It can also be helpful to do some research because a counter offer may simply be indicating that you’re weren’t being paid the going rate for the job were doing, and that an alternative employer may be prepared to pay more.

6 Uncertainty
Accepting a counter offer is no guarantee of longevity, which is far from ideal for either party. On the one hand, you’ll still be doing a job that you were prepared to leave and on the other, your employer will be justified in questioning how long you’re planning to stay with them. And should things go downhill for the business, you may be perceived as being more expendable than personnel who have shown more loyalty.

7 Stagnation
While a counter offer may deliver a much-needed – and probably well-deserved – pay rise, it could ultimately cause you to stagnate, especially if your employer believes that they’ve treated you well. In fact, you may fall behind in the queue for future raises, and that can be counterproductive for your prospects.

8 Stalling
Finally, issuing a counter offer can be used by an employer as a stalling tactic in that they understand that upping your salary will keep you on board for a period of time while they proactively seek a replacement who may even accept the position and be happy to work for your previous salary.

For Rosa dos Santos, owner of Exact Sourcing, counter offers appear to be on the rise, which is far from ideal for both employees and employers. ‘Here at Exact we’re seeing a startling rise in the number of candidates who are receiving a counter offer and it’s something of a concern to us,’ comments Rosa. ‘Fundamentally, when a member of staff decides to move on, it’s usually for a number of reasons, so simply increasing their salary isn’t the best solution. We work with our candidates to ensure that they’re changing jobs for the right reasons, but we also spend time with our employers to create a culture of recruiting the best talent and rewarding them accordingly. Ultimately, we believe that a business that reacts to a resignation by issuing a counter offer in an attempt to retain the member of staff isn’t operating effectively because recognition and reward are central to a healthy, sustainable business.’

Exact Sourcing is a recruitment agency in Cambridge and Newmarket, and we also serve Ely, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Royston and Sawston. If you’re a candidate looking to change your career path and you’d like some advice, please contact us for an initial chat.