24. 01. 2018

Accepting a counteroffer - a nice pay rise, or a mistake?

If you’ve ended up reading this article, then more than likely the last few weeks of your new year have been quite the rocky road. After the New Year arrived and it was time to take a rain check on things, you realised that for whatever reason you weren’t happy in your role, and you made the decision to start looking for a new opportunity to kick start 2018.

Following a period of intense job searching, between your new fitness routine, which involved meeting your recruiter and developing this relationship, you were asked to interview for a promising new opportunity. After a series of meetings with the hiring manager, much to your delight, you were offered the job. Then, after all of that, your current employer threw you a curve ball and made you a counter offer (shock), one which you found hard to turn down.

Whilst you were feeling flattered at the time, all the buzz quickly wore off, only to be replaced with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, the feeling you have made a huge mistake. 

Don’t panic.

Whether you made the wrong decision or not, you will bounce back from this and get your career and 2018 back on track. But, before you make any sudden moves back into your search, check for the below signs that this counter offer was definitely a mistake:

1. Nothing has changed

Look at your reasons for leaving in the first place…

Do you feel these issues have been rectified or is everything exactly the same as it was before?

For example, maybe you felt like you didn’t have a great work-life balance, or the commitment you were putting into your job was going unnoticed.

More often than not that counter offer you received included some great new perks; a higher salary, stock options etc. But at the end of the day that offer didn’t acknowledge the deeper reasons behind your motivation for looking for another role elsewhere, such as a lack of workplace fulfilment, getting back the passion for what you do, the opportunity for development, and a sense of purpose.

These are the things that material benefits simply can’t make up for.

2. Things are actually worse than before

If you are being truthful with yourself, is work actually worse than it was before?

Left wondering why on earth your employer didn’t try harder to keep you until you handed in your notice? Surely they could see you were unhappy, and if they couldn’t, well then that says it all.

Perhaps your counter offer came with new demands as a result of your new salary package, despite the fact that, in your eyes, the counter offer is simply a fair reflection of the job you have been doing for months or even years. Perhaps your colleagues have distanced themselves from you, losing trust because you were initially going to abandon ship. Whatever the case may be, you dread going to work more than before.

3. Your inner voice is screaming out to you

It is, of course, possible that perhaps you have all of the rewards and responsibilities that you were hoping for. Perhaps your colleagues are thrilled that you are staying; they are making you feel more welcome than ever before. But something in your gut just doesn’t feel right.

Although you can’t put your finger exactly on what is wrong, parts of your job are bringing you down, perhaps subtle office politics at play or the lack of innovative and inspirational leaders to pick up the office motivation.

Whatever it is, your inner voice is telling you to leave. If this is the case, I would advise you listen to it.

What to do next

Rest assured, you’re not the first person to fall head over heels for a juicy counteroffer, and you certainly won’t be the last. But now you owe it to yourself to be completely honest with yourself about what you do want from your career.

  • Write down beyond the material perks. Perhaps it’s a better workplace culture, a more motivating boss or better progression opportunities. Think about what your current employer is lacking, and how your next employer will need to be different.
  • Assess whether the first offer which you turned down could really tick these boxes. If it did, then swallow your pride and arrange a meeting with your recruiter to explain the situation. You never know, the previous offer may still be on the table. If not, see if your recruiter can put you forward for any similar roles that they have available.
  • Let your recruiter know you are on the hunt again, but that this time you have a better understanding of what you do and don’t want from your next role, and a greater confidence in your worth. They are there to help you and will have seen this situation before. Relay your new found criteria to them, and use this yourself as you 
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself about your decision to take that counter offer. After all, you gave your current employer a second chance to meet your career needs, and for whatever reason, these needs haven’t been met. At least now you have solidified in your mind what it is you truly want from your next move.

Look at it from this perspective, accepting that counter offer was less of a mistake and more of a learning curve, one which will help guarantee that your next step is a successful one. 2018 can still be the year you start a new chapter in your career.

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