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Career Moves and Counteroffer Conundrums

It’s so easy to be seduced by a counteroffer. It’s such a heady, ego-building experience.

By their very nature they are designed to lure you back into a role you were already to give up only minutes before. As we try to return to a sense of workforce normalcy in the wake of COVID-19, many people have decided to revaluate their roles, their employers, and their company culture. Stay or go has become the new big question many talented individuals are asking themselves.   A May survey of 1,000 full time employed American workers showed that while 78% would not consider a job change during the COVID outbreak, others, particularly those 44 years of age and under (56% of them) said the outbreak has made them reconsider their current employment.

Ok, let’s say you decided to make the move, found something great and got the offer. Congrats! But just as you tender your resignation, the “Counteroffer Conundrum” becomes part of your life. Now what?

A Harvard Business News article cited a survey in which 40% of senior executives and HR leaders agreed that accepting a counteroffer from a current employer will adversely affect one’s career.

The average person wants to believe that their employers will finally appreciate their work and respond with more dollars, a new title or a perhaps increased respect for the job they do. Career professionals almost always advise a candidate considering one to not do it and that’s not because recruiters are putting their own needs first. It’s based on a long history and experience in the employment space and what we’ve seen happen to both sides who walk the counteroffer tightrope.

We caution the candidates we work with, as well as our client partners NOT to accept or extend counteroffers. Why?
We believe it to be a temporary fix to a problematic situation and almost always, the candidate will be the loser in the long run. Your relationship with your employer will never be the same, no matter how much you think it won’t change. Additionally, LLoyd has found that most employees who accept counteroffers leave within six to 12 months, either on their own or by termination. But why is something that sounds so promising not really a good career move for you? First and foremost, the company knows you were almost out the door, mentally and physically. Your loyalty and commitment will always be in question, even in the best work relationships. That trust is very hard to restore since you will always be perceived as a flight risk. Perhaps just as damaging is how the work relationship between yourself and colleagues may sour. Those that believe your new title, duties or more money was a manipulative tactic may treat you differently, even your best buddies. And what about you? Something wasn’t quite right or you likely wouldn’t have considered a change in the first place. Are you simply settling for what’s comfortable, versus pushing yourself to the next level?

Another unhappy aftermath of a counteroffer acceptance is that it jeopardizes your credibility in your industry. Today, people are very well connected. The candidate who interviews, accepts an offer and then reneges has just wasted a lot of time in the recruitment process. Your reputation matters. People reach out to others for references, peer evaluations, and basic feedback on mutual connections. Future employers and search professionals may think twice before considering you again.

If a company truly values you, why did they take so long to make you feel appreciated or respond to your concerns or even give you the challenge and duties that match your capabilities? Counteroffers are corporate defense mechanisms. They aren’t really what’s bet for you; they are what’s best for the company. It’s false flattery. Your employer is almost always starting to look for your replacement before you’ve settled back into your desk chair, and you’ve just given them the time and comfort level to do so. We know that to be true because we know why companies initiate searches with us.

Evaluate what you have before you give it up. If you have any sort of discontent, verbalize to your company leadership what you feel would make your role more personally satisfying to you. After that, if you’ve expressed your dissatisfaction with your position and your employer has not made any attempt to remedy the situation, it’s time to go. Make up your mind and stick with your decision. Turn in a courteous, professional resignation letter. Resign gracefully. Don’t leave any room for further discussion. Behave honorably and don’t burn any bridges. The reasons that prompted your initial desire to leave just don’t disappear overnight.

Listen to that opportunity knocking at your door, walk out to new challenges and don’t look back.

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Readers may also find this blog useful:
Ending Your Employment – How to Say “So Long” Like a Professional by Merrill Banks

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy Schuman, CSP is the Chief Marketing Officer for LLoyd Staffing.  A recruitment and career specialist, Nancy will celebrate 40 years in the staffing industry this year, 24 of them with LLoyd.  She is an advocate for career education and has advised thousands of candidates on their resumes and job searches while serving as the Careers columnist for a large weekly Long Island newspaper and writing 11 popular books for job seekers and business professionals.  You can find her Author’s page and books on Amazon.

 

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