How to deal with a counter-offer

Career Corner: Considering a Counter-Offer

You’ve found a new Governance, Risk and Compliance role that you like the look of. You’ve submitted a CV, dazzled your potential new boss across two rounds of interviews, and they’ve made you an offer. You let your manager know that you’re handing in your notice because you’re heading off to this new job – and they make a counter-offer.

What do you do?

Immediately, ask for some time to think about the counter-offer, don’t make an instant snap-decision. There are a lot of factors to consider and you need to examine all of them.

Start with asking yourself why it was you were initially looking for another job. Was it just because you were underpaid? If the salary was the only factor then it becomes a simple question of who is offering more. But the salary is very rarely the full story of why someone is looking at other jobs. Were you being repeatedly passed over for promotion? Were you seeking a greater challenge, more engaging work? Was it a question of a mismatch with the office culture around you? A higher salary provided by a counter-offer isn’t going to fix any of those things, and we find that candidates who accept a counter-offer and stay put are soon on the move again when the reality of their unchanged workplace settles in.

As you weigh up your options, consider the wealth of information you have available about your current workplace, and examine the long-view. Is there a clear ladder of promotions you can work up? How often do people in your division get promoted? What’s the senior team like? Can you see yourself progressing to the top in this company across a large stretch of your career? If you’ve spent a significant amount of time with your current employer, you should have a good idea of what a long career with them will look like, and you need to think about if that’s something you want. What prompted you to look outside of your current company in the first place?

On the other side of the equation, find out everything you can about your potential new employer so you can consider all the factors outside of the base salary. Arrange a conversation with your hiring manager and/or recruiter and drill down on the kind of information that would help you make this decision – How much scope is there to define and grow your role? What are the progression opportunities like and are staff regularly developing and moving up? What are the wider goals of the company, what direction are they moving in and does that align with your personal vision for the future of your career?

That kind of big-picture thinking should guide how you decide to respond. An immediate salary hike is obviously appealing but there are so many other factors that make up your job satisfaction, and it’s important to not push all of those to a side in the moment. You should also think about why has it taken handing in a notice to get this salary increase? So often a counter-offer is a knee-jerk panic-response from an employer realising that you would create a big hole in the team – and they may well decide to manage you out over the next year as they try to find a replacement for your role who will be back on the starting salary. Take the time to gather and assess all of the information, and make the decision that’s right for you, your future plans and your overall career goals.

Come back to the original reason you started looking for another job – it’s almost never just about how much money you’re taking home.

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