Counteroffers – how employers handle rejection

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Counteroffers

They say that only when someone is tested by rejection, do they reveal themselves.

I have found that when a candidate goes through a full recruitment process, but ultimately rejects the offer, how the employer handles it can speak volumes.

Equally, when in receipt of a resignation letter, a classy or petulant response can inform a candidate’s decision to accept a counteroffer, or not.

This week the wisdom of candidates accepting a counteroffer, upon resigning from their current employer, has been raised again. In the interests of recruiters, agencies, hitting targets and making commission, it has come to be believed that counteroffers must never be accepted. That there are a whole list of reasons why your employer is not to be trusted in a resignation situation, and that there are bound to be dark motives behind any offer of more salary, promotion, responsibilities or working conditions. The assertion goes that “You have forced their hand, so anything resulting response must therefore be tainted”.

There is a much photocopied document, passed round the recruitment community since the 1980’s, which originated in an article written for no less august an organ than the Wall Street Journal, which detailed everything a recruiter wanted to hear. This article, when given to a candidate, would scare the bejesus out of them, and ensure they never again spoke to their soon-to-be former employer, never mind consider an offer to stay. So persuasive was this document, that it went unquestioned, and became an accepted truism in our industry.

Nevertheless, using general statistics (however fabricated) from past events to predict specific outcomes for a candidate in front of you is bad form, and defies the rules of logic. The recruiter always has far better information, upon which to give much more considered and appropriate advice.  Sure, if a recruiter needs to convince a wavering candidate in order to make the fee, that Wall Street Journal document can help to make your flawed argument, but it is simply not relevant to a specific candidate that has been made a counteroffer.

There are many more factors for the candidate and recruiter to consider; such as what they know in detail about their boss, their employer, the company’s history of making counteroffers, what guarantees are in the offer etc etc.

In summary, there can be no hard and fast rule any candidate can refer to when on the receiving end of a counteroffer. I would only advise this;

  1. Before commencing a job search, realistically consider your value to your own company.
  2. Weigh up the possibility of a counteroffer being made at any stage, and on what terms you might consider one.
  3. Allow for the possibility of being persuaded by logical means, to remain with your company in certain circumstances.
  4. When it happens, don’t be coy. State why you want to leave, but do not make demands in order to stay. Let your employer make their case, and negotiate accordingly.
  5. Remain professional at all times, and consider how professional all other parties are too.