It is common for candidates to receive counter offers from their existing employer when or shortly after they hand in their notice. Everybody's situation is different so here is some information to help make your decision.
Accepting a counter offer will annoy your potential new employer. They will have turned down other candidates and pulled job adverts. They may have spent considerable time negotiating your new package with a senior director or released the person you were due to replace.
Recruitment Consultants should not pressure you into taking an offer you are not happy with but if you pull out after already accepting an offer they are unlikely to want to work with you again. At the very least they will be worried you will not be honest with them next time and at worst they may be annoyed that you made them look unreliable in front of their client. If you are thinking of burning these bridges, it pays to make sure it is the right decision for you.
Although your employer may have offered you more money, there is considerable evidence to suggest that employees who accept counter offers do not receive the same pay rises that they would have done going forward. Some employers may consider you disloyal but even the most understanding of employers will consider that you have already received a pay rise and are not therefore first on the list to get another one. In the long term this could leave you no better off than you were before.
One of the reasons you were looking for another job was probably to improve your career opportunities but the unfortunate truth is that employees who accept counter offers are less likely to be considered for promotion and even less likely to be successful. Your loyalty and happiness is already in question and your employer may be worried that it's only a matter of time before you leave. You may find that accepting a counter offer actually curtails your career opportunities in the future.
Company restructures are an unfortunate fact of the modern employment market. Some employees who accept counters offers can leave themselves exposed to redundancies or pay cuts. Aside from a possible view that you will choose to leave soon anyway, it's likely that those above your immediate boss will not understand the background to your pay rise and may single you out as a way of cutting costs.
Will things change?
The statistics show that most candidates who accept counter offers go on to leave their employer anyway within 6-12 months. The reality is that although most bosses will promise change and no doubt be sincere about it, things are unlikely to change enough to convince you stay long term. Furthermore, by the time you do finally decide to leave you may have already burnt bridges with one employer and a Recruitment Consultant.
Why were you leaving in the first place?
Taking a new job can be daunting but you must have had many reasons for wanting to leave your current job. You went to the effort of attending interviews, perhaps you even sat a technical test and entered into salary negotiations with your potential new employer before accepting, so don't underestimate your initial decision. Be careful that the easy option of taking more money in the same job doesn't stop you from spreading your wings and ask yourself why your employer needed you to threaten leaving before they were prepared to reward you for your work.
If you already felt that you were underpaid then do not assume that a pay rise from your current employer will resolve this. You are certainly going to be expected to take on more responsibility, achieve more and work harder and longer hours once you get your pay rise and although this may suit you, you could find yourself working much harder for a disproportionate increase in salary.
Bidding Wars are Bad News
A bidding war might seem like a nice idea but it rarely ends well. Your Recruitment Consultant may try to smooth things over and even get a better offer out of the new employer for you but employers do not like being forced into bidding wars. They do not know you yet and just as you are taking a chance on them when you accept their offer, they are taking a chance on you when they make it. Employers very often pull out of offers altogether when faced with a bidding war. If they do match or exceed your counter offer there is no doubt that their expectations of you will increase. You may find yourself in a new job where you new boss is suspicious of your loyalty and puts you under unnecessarily high expectations before you have even started.
A counter offer is not always about YOU
Do not assume that your current employer has made a counter offer just because they think you deserve more money or are too important to lose. The truth is that replacing staff is always more expensive than paying your existing staff more money. The recruitment process and fees are not cheap and there is always a risk that new employees will drop out before they start or shortly after they start. If they do stay, figures show that the first 3-9 months are spent getting them up to speed while the employer sacrifices other employees time and the company's money training them. In most cases employers do not get a full return on their staff until almost a year down the line. You may find that a last minute counter offer is a desperate attempt to avoid the expense and turmoil of finding a replacement rather than a grand gesture to keep you.
Our advice is simple, take time to consider your options before you attend an interview and even more time before you accept an offer. Talk to your IT Recruitment Consultant about your requirements and why you are leaving your current job. Be honest with them about the salary you really want so that they can help you plan your strategy and explore all the options with your potential new employer before you accept.
Don't be pressured into discussing salary in your interview. Use your recruitment consultant to do this on your behalf. You may find yourself being pressured into accepting something you later regret.
Try imagining the scenario of your current employer offering you more money to stay. If you would be tempted then you should probably be in his or her office now asking for a pay rise rather than looking for a new job.
Your Recruitment Consultant should never pressure you to take an offer you do not want and counter offers do work out for some people but unfortunately these scenarios are few and far between so prepare carefully and do your best to avoid this situation.