Counter-offers: Why you should never accept one…

February 24, 2017

Stop me when this sounds familiar…

You decide the time is right to explore other job opportunities. It’s not about money (although you do feel underpaid…). You register with a recruiter (CapeClarke, of course!). You apply for a role that seems ideal. You have a couple of interviews and feel really positive this is the right move. You are made an offer by the firm and accept it. You go to hand your notice in to your partner, very happy with your decision.

“Oh, but we had no idea you were unhappy and we would really like you to stay…here’s a pay rise.”

Right, okay, I’ve stopped.

Funnily enough, the counter-offer was rare throughout the recession or in its immediate aftermath, but now in a bullish market with numerous skill-shortage areas, it is commonplace.  Whilst it may seem to be very flattering, here is some food for thought…

Reputation is everything!

Aside from anything else, you have accepted a role with another firm, acting in good faith and who have offered you a role at a salary that is very satisfactory and they have set out exactly why they want you to join.  To renege on that acceptance will reflect very badly on you from a character perspective. Rightly or wrongly, it may make you look like a mercenary, only after a pay rise and using another firm to get it.  It will also show up a lack of commercial awareness and a weakness in understanding how business operates.  If you had any doubts, you should have aired them before accepting the offer.

Above all else, your reputation is key in the legal sector.  A bad reputation will follow you around for the rest of your career.

“Because you’re worth it”

Ask yourself the question…if my employer is now offering me more money because that is what I am worth to them, why have I had to go through the whole recruitment process, preparing for interviews and handing in my notice to get it?

I don’t even need to answer that for you.

Band Aid

Obviously, money was not the only factor in deciding to look at a move.  If it was, we would tell you to speak to your manager and explain that you feel (or know) you are underpaid.  Inevitably, there will be other things you are unhappy about.  Has a pay rise resolved those issues?  What if they start promising you things about progression?  Well that brings me on to you now being a…

High risk employee

You have already handed your notice in once, your employer is always going to be metaphorically looking over its shoulder.  Consequently, you will as well.  Are you sure when it comes to the next promotion, the employee who has remained ‘loyal’ throughout won’t beat you to it? Your employer will also be keeping an eye on the market for your replacement in the worry this will happen again.

There is a reason most people who accept a counter-offer to stay have left within a year.

Good employers do not counter-offer

Because they don’t need to! Good employers pay their employees what they are worth – they keep abreast of what the market is paying and the employee’s value to the firm. Sometimes, they are not even the best payers but have other aspects to their working environment that make up for a slightly lower salary.  One of the best law firms in Leeds, in terms of low staff turnover, is not one of the highest payers – they are very fair for the market in which they operate and concentrate on making the workplace a happy one.  Their staff value that.

It is about what is important to you!

So next time you are presented with a counter-offer, forget about the false flattery and remember why you were prompted to explore another opportunity, say ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and look forward to the next exciting chapter of your career.


If you have been thinking about a move or would just like some general advice about options in the market, please feel free to contact one of our dedicated consultants on 0113 2385965 or 0161 3000750.

CapeClarke is a leading niche legal recruitment consultancy operating across Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Liverpool and London. Please feel free to check out our priority legal vacancies by clicking here.  Please note these legal vacancies are only a small selection of those we have been instructed on, so please get in touch if you do not see a role which looks suitable.

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