Skip to content

Four Reasons to Avoid Counter Offers

There is an almost tangible sense of positivity in the air. Our lives are opening up again, the high streets are starting to bustle and businesses are going for growth. It's little wonder that employees have starting to raise their heads above the parapet and look at what the jobs market has to offer.

If you are contemplating your next career move, it's worth reflecting on the reasons you want to embark on the recruitment journey to make sure that it's the right thing for you at this time.

You can of course change your mind at any point, but knowingly going through the recruitment process when you aren't fully committed and are (secretly) hoping that your current employer will make you a counter offer, is a potentially risky strategy. Find out why.

There are an increasing number of opportunities for ambitious individuals looking to progress their careers as well as those that have fallen out of love with their existing employer or just want a change.

Businesses are gearing up for growth and job candidates with sought-after traits, skills and practical experience are increasingly sought-after, particularly in the business support areas that we recruit for: PA and Administration, Marketing, HR and Finance.

If you are serious about looking for a new role in today's rising market, then you will undoubtedly come across a number of vacancies to tempt you.

However, if you are not completely committed to making a move or are considering using a new job offer as a way of persuading your existing employer to increase your salary or address some of your grievances, then we would urge you to tread carefully.

This may work in some scenarios, but not always. What's more, the benefits may be short-lived and while a counter offer may be tempting, it's a high risk strategy that may backfire in the long run.

Let's explore the risks and discuss alternative ways of achieving your goals.

Risks and Unintended Consequences

Recruitment can be time consuming and expensive for employers so it goes without saying that they will want to retain their most valued employees. It is not unusual for employers to try to persuade key members of staff to remain in the role and this sometimes includes making them a counter offer. These counter offers can be generous and, understandably, may lead to job candidates having second thoughts about leaving. They may even be tantalising enough to make them stay.

However, there are several risks and unintended consequences of accepting a counter offer which may be worth considering.

Four Reasons to Avoid Counter Offers

1. Relationships and Trust

When you inform your line manager or employer that you have had another job offer and are thinking about leaving, it will undoubtedly affect your relationship with them. This might be in very small and subtle ways – or it could run much deeper. Trust and loyalty take a long time to establish and even longer to rebuild, so it is important to be sure you that you want to leave before you show your hand.

2. Career progression

If you change your mind about leaving and decide to give your existing employer another go, you may find it difficult to settle back into your old routine. Once people know that you had one foot out the door, they may regard you differently and wonder how long you will really stick around. This legacy can be hard to shake off and may, in rare cases, even affect your chances of promotion in the future.

3.  Opening a can of worms

When discussing a counter offer with your existing employer, you will undoubtedly be encouraged to talk about your reasons for leaving. If your reasons were primarily financial or had something to do with your place or hours of work, then your employer may question why you didn't discuss it with them at an earlier stage. If the culture is an open and honest one, where two-way communication is encouraged, then your lack of transparency may affect people's perceptions of you.

Alternatively, if your reasons are associated more with office politics or individual personalities, these may be difficult to remedy in the longer term and it is unlikely that a counter offer will get to the root of the problem.

4. Future recruitment prospects

It goes without saying that everyone has the right to change their mind at any time. We all know that circumstances change and even the best laid plans can go awry. It's only damaging when agencies and employers invest considerable time and energy in the recruitment process, only to fall at the final hurdle when they discover that you weren't serious about making the move or just wanted to use a new job offer as a bargaining chip.

An Alternative Approach

In some ways it is understandable that job candidates will occasionally use the recruitment process as a way of testing the jobs market. It only becomes problematic when candidates use it to encourage their employers to increase their pay, address grievances or bring about change – as it is these scenarios that can damage relationships, affect long-term career prospects and alter the way that your colleagues, managers or employer perceives you.

We always advise candidates that are about to embark on a new recruitment journey to ask themselves the following questions:

1. What is the real reason you want to change jobs?

  • The following checklist may be helpful:
    • Salary and benefits?
    • Working arrangements?
    • Environment?
    • Culture?
    • Internal politics?
    • Individual relationships?
    • Your role?
    • The sector?
    • Lack of personal development and training?
    • Career prospects and promotional opportunities?

2. Is this something that can be resolved by your current employer?

  • If so, then what steps do you need to take to bring it to their attention – and what do they need to do to address the issue?
  • If not, then what are your options?

If you've thought everything through and have come to the conclusion that a fresh start or new opportunity is what you need, then that's great news and an exciting future awaits. There are lots of interesting roles at all levels and across a wide range of sectors coming on to the market at any one time, so if you are committed to making a move, we'd be delighted to help you.

You can view our latest jobs here.

If you spot a Temporary or Permanent vacancy that you think you may be suited to, please get in touch and one of our consultants will get back to you shortly.

About the author, Kate Allen

Kate Allen is the founder and Managing Director of Oxfordshire and London-based recruitment agency Allen Associates and can be contacted at kate@allen-associates.co.uk

Read Kate's bio and meet the rest of the team, here.

Kate Allen

Kate Allen

Kate founded Allen Associates in 1998 out of a determination to build a recruitment business which delivered a bespoke service centred on the needs of clients and candidates.

We use cookies to give you the best experience of using this website. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.