Counter Offers – Just say “no”!

I am prompted to write this post because a recruiters’ worst nightmare happened to me 2 days ago: a candidate who has signed and accepted my client’s job offer told me 3 weeks later that he has decided to remain in his current company and accepted a counter offer. This is not withstanding the fact that he has to pay my client liquidated damages for rescinding the contract!

With increasing talent shortage due to a buoyant economy, cases such as these are aplenty. And many of these candidates live to regret their decision later. Here are a few reasons why:

  • I am making the assumption that even before one contemplates leaving his employer, he would have taken the necessary steps to address whatever problems or issues that had prompted him to leave in the first place. How then, I wonder, does one think the issues would magically disappear just because you have tendered in your resignation? Wouldn’t the cultural misfit, or the horrible boss who is blocking your career progression still remain? Many a times, a candidate who accepts a counter offer and stays on in his current role leaves the job again 6 months later anyway. This is because getting a counter offer does not eradicate the reasons why you have decided to move on in the first place.
  • So maybe you’ll say the situation has changed — your boss finally gave you the promotion you have been gunning for; or the salary that you’ve always wanted. Well, instead of rejoicing and staying on, I say that should further reinforce the fact that you’ve made the right decision to move on! What kind of employer would it be, who only bothers to recognise the value of an employee when he resigns?
  • We often hear the phrase “No one is indispensable to any organisation”. I would prefer to say everyone in an organisation has a different role to play, and some functions are naturally more important than others. Most employers would naturally put up a fistfight to retain its top talent. But at the end of the day, if the company is unable to give the employee the challenges and/or career progression that they are seeking, it is only fair to give their blessings to the employee who has found greener pastures, address the gap internally and move on. Many times, employers may act for their own selfish needs. They retain you because they need you to carry out your responsibilities as there is no one else who can take over your duties immediately. Or worse, they resort to emotional blackmail. If your company is using emotional blackmail on you, again be glad you have made the right decision to leave.
  • Candidates may think that we as recruiters want to persuade them against the counter offer for our own selfish reasons. Sure, we lose a potential placement with a client, but we soon move on to find a replacement quickly. But what does the candidate stand to lose? His integrity, his professionalism, his reputation in the industry, and future opportunities to ever work with the prospective employer again.

So think about it before accepting a counter offer.

At the end of the day, recognise that you are responsible for charting your own career, and you know what is best for you. So don’t let anyone else sway your decision and convince you otherwise! Once you have committed to a new job, be firm with your decision and exit your company with grace, and get ready to embrace your new challenge!


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