banner image

The Counteroffer Conundrum: Why Staying Put May Curtail Your Career

  • November 16, 2023

If you just got that confirmation email or call from the hiring firm offering you the job you’ve long been hoping to land, then chances are you’ll have already punched the air in triumph and let out a huge sigh of relief at the conclusive news, thankful that the hard part of the job searching process is now behind you.

And while it’s certainly in order to celebrate such wonderful news with friends and family and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for making it this far, caution is advised at this junction – as there is still a transition period you are to navigate successfully, especially when there is still your resignation and notice period to manage.

Perhaps the most pertinent when discussing the activities involved in a thorough due diligence post-job search is the topic of counteroffers, an aspect of the transition process that presents a challenge to legal candidates often regardless of what they might have on offer from their soon-to-be employer.

According to the latest CIPD Labour Market Outlook report, 40% of UK employers have made a counteroffer to departing employees in the last 12 months and among that number, 38% matched the salary of the new job offer while 40% exceeded it. With employers increasingly reliant on counter offers to retain their key staff and a skills shortage across the industry to contend with, these findings point to two indisputable facts that any legal candidate on the brink of leaving their current role faces at present:

  • The chances that you will be made a counteroffer are higher than ever before.
  • It will likely be a tantalizing prospect to consider, regardless of whatever offer you’ve got on the table.

All of this to say, it isn’t an issue you can afford to take lightly, simple as its solution may seem.

So, what happens when you break the news to your current employer with your resignation letter at the ready and your current manager provides a counteroffer, asking you to stay?

While the promise of extra benefits, money, or extra responsibilities from your existing employer might be tempting, they usually point to a few red flags that make accepting a counteroffer ultimately a bad move for your career in the long run.

Here are 5 reasons you may want to think twice before accepting the new offer on the table:

1. Counteroffers Don’t Solve Underlying Issues

Moving from one job to another isn’t a decision most legal professionals will arrive at on a whim. There will be a lot of time and thought gone into weighing the pros and cons of leaving your current role, and from every possible angle, before deciding to take the leap.

When you’re given a counteroffer, it may address one or two gripes you have with your existing role (such as a low salary), but it’s unlikely to tackle every major issue that convinced you to leave. When faced with one, it’s a good idea to take a moment to ask yourself why you wanted to take this new job in the first place.

Is your current role lacking the challenge you’re looking for at this stage of your career, or are you planning on moving in an entirely new direction? Perhaps the culture or lack of flexibility are a constant source of headaches at your firm. If the sticking points with your role aren’t resolved by the counteroffer (which tend to be the case if these sit at the root of your concerns as culture and career development are not as simple a problem to fix as salary concerns) you should absolutely be turning it down and moving on with your new job offer.

2. An Unwelcome Change in Dynamics

Whilst it is well within your right to explore alternative options if your needs aren’t being met professionally and personally, an inevitable by-product of accepting a counteroffer after making your departure known to your employer is the impact it will have on your relationship going forward.

There’s a good chance your employer will have lingering questions about your loyalty after accepting the counteroffer, and this can manifest in ways that will eventually come to undermine the reasons that sit behind your decision to stay.

You may see yourself getting passed over for promotions, or find your employer actively looking to hire for your position to fill the gap you’ll leave when you do eventually jump ship, all because they consider you a flight risk.

As they will (somewhat understandably) no longer have the same level of trust they once did, there’s likely to be an uncomfortable and awkward dynamic at play, even if they do end up going in the other direction and working harder to keep you happy.

3. A Growth Plateau

Career development often involves moving between different roles, taking on new responsibilities over time and stepping out of one’s comfort zone constantly to keep the trajectory of one’s growth on the up. While there is the benefit of quickly climbing up the ladder in one law firm and building up experience working within a particular team or role, staying put for too long can be as damaging to your career prospects in the long run, as it keeps you out of the loop on what opportunities are ripe for you to expand your skills and experience and consequently stunt your growth.

When deciding if a counteroffer is worth accepting, ask yourself if it keeps you on course to achieving your short and long-term career goals. Compared to the job you presently have lined up, does your existing role get you closer to meeting those key milestones any faster?

Remember that a higher salary won’t bridge the gap that an unrewarding role leaves. Yes, the money will certainly be a welcome incentive but that will quickly become irrelevant if your existing role isn’t pushing you in the right direction. It’s important that you keep your end goal in mind when considering a counteroffer and avoid any ill judgement based on the promise of monetary value.

4. With Great Investment Comes Great Scrutiny

Given the gravity of the skills shortage prevalent in the hiring market today, keeping a hold of top talent has become a lot more of an urgent imperative for businesses across the industry. As firms increasingly opt for desperate measures to retain their key personnel, it has become commonplace to see employers rush to offer a more handsome remuneration package to save themselves the stress of scouring the market for an adequate replacement.

While this is good news for candidates currently without a role, it is a double edged sword for anyone considering the prospect of a counteroffer. This flexibility towards a salary/benefits increase can and often does mean employers  become increasingly wary of how much you warrant the extra investment down the line and can lead to them actively looking for tangible evidence you’re worth it right away.

Having this extra scrutiny placed on your performance, conduct and attitude – down to the smallest of things – can be a stressful experience, even if you are conscious you are well-deserving of the extra benefits you received.

In some cases, employees who accept counteroffers find themselves under pressure to perform like a new hire all over again, trying to prove they deserve their new salary and responsibilities. In other cases, you may find that some of these responsibilities aren’t ones you asked for or are fit to handle, and that’s because your employer simply wants to ensure they’re getting their “return on investment” from you.

5. Risk of Regret

Job changes can be stressful and worrisome, but they can also present incredible opportunities to tap into your potential as a legal professional and build a stellar career for yourself. If you’ve been offered a job at another firm, and you’ve said “yes”, then chances are there’s clearly something about the new role that appealed to you.

Maybe you loved the level of flexibility it offered and don’t have an opportunity to get that kind of work life balance at your current firm. Perhaps you were interested in branching out into a slightly different aspect of your practice area and won’t get the chance to explore that in your current role. Bear in mind that any unfulfilled desire will always be there in the form of regret if you do nothing to change your circumstances when opportunity knocks at the door.

Although you’ll have the comfort of not having to get accustomed to a new working environment or team, you’ll also be left constantly wondering what would have happened if you had followed through and moved into that new role.

Counteroffer Strategies 101

It’s always worth preparing for a counteroffer in advance before approaching your manager with your resignation letter. Think about how best to pass across your rejection to their offer politely and firmly, and whether there are still any important factors at play that warrant you seriously considering passing up the chance to make a new move.

By far the best way to add that extra layer security to your preparation is to work alongside a specialist legal recruiter throughout a process. They possess a great deal of knowledge about the job application process, from both a hiring and employee perspective and are best placed to help alleviate any doubts you might have about your current options – counteroffer or not.

If you find yourself at a critical junction in your legal career with no clear pointers on how best to advance, then you’re in luck. At Clayton Legal we make it our goal to simplify the job-hunting process as much as possible for legal candidates, whatever the complications involved may be, and would love to give you the helping hand you need in navigating any uncertainties about the next move for your career. Give our team a call today on 01772 259 121 or contact us here.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal IT personnel to Practice Managers. 

Whether you are building your legal team or are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here. 

Share This Post

banner image

You’ve Been Offered The Job – What Now?

  • June 27, 2023

You’ve just received that long-awaited phone call or email offering you the job – and the feeling of accomplishment and excitement will no doubt wash over you, as you envision yourself thriving in your new position and share the news with family and friends. The news of a job offer is certainly one worth celebrating, especially if the process has been particularly long-winded or time-consuming, but the jubilations are just part of what’s involved in making a smooth transition from your current role to a new one.

Taking a momentary step back and some time to prepare for this transition phase is important, especially as there are key milestones and activities to take care of before you embark on day one of the new role.

Review the offer in detail

In most cases, an offer of employment is delivered via a phone call, or video and is classed as a ‘verbal offer’. And, whilst you may feel you need to give an immediate response when discussing the role face to face, it may be prudent to say thank you, indicate you are excited about the proposition, and ask when the firm would like a response by.

You will need some time to review the offer of employment in full, especially as the intricacies and any T&Cs will be sent via a more formal written document for you to review.

The ‘written offer’ should detail things such as salary, benefits including holiday entitlement, bonuses and working arrangements. If anything is missing or you need clarity, don’t be afraid of reaching back out to the contact at the firm to ask for this information.

Communicate With Your Legal Recruiter

If you have used the services of a recruitment agency in the process of looking for a new role, you will find that offer management is one of the key areas where this relationship will really pay off. At this point, your recruiter will have a good idea of your non-negotiables concerning things like remuneration, benefits package, and preferred working arrangements. Good recruiters will also have conducted a deep dive at the start of the process into what career progression looks like in the medium- and long-term, and the credentials of an employer that are a good fit with you culturally.

It may be that the recruiter is the one that communicates the offer with you directly – but either way, talking it over, comparing what the T&Cs look like compared to your initial requirements is always easier when you have a specialist to talk through options of what happens next – whether that’s acceptance, reject, or entering into negotiations.

Recruitment Process Pipeline – Closing Things Off

After a review of the offer and any necessary negotiation, if you have reached the exciting decision to accept, it’s best practice to inform any other recruiters or contacts at law firms you are interviewing with that you are duly pulling out of the recruitment process with themselves.

It shouldn’t have to take up too much of your time, but a simple email or call advising that you have accepted an offer elsewhere will suffice and means that everyone is kept in the loop in the spirit of transparency and good manners.

You may also at this stage wish to review any live CV’s you have with things like job boards online, or switch off your ‘open to work’ banner on LinkedIn – if nothing else than to avoid being contacted about other roles in this period as you focus on the one in question.

That being said, it is wise to avoid changing your actual job status online until you have started with your new employer.

Giving Your Notice & Handline Your Current Employer

On the subject of notice periods…should it be applicable to you, they are an aspect of your exit process that you can’t afford to neglect, as you will likely still have obligations to fulfil and a job to do in ensuring you leave a lasting (good) impression on colleagues and managers. Some mutual respect and diplomacy on your part should help avoid a tricky situation and a messy end to your time there. The following tips can help to manage the responsibilities involved in the process:

  • Be respectful when giving your notice. A long list of your employer’s shortcomings will do nothing to make your exit process easier and will burn bridges faster than you can say ‘gasoline’. Have a face-to-face conversation with your direct manager first before relaying the news to anyone else, outlining what has led to your decision to leave and the finer details involved in their leaver process, before following up in writing.
  • Help prepare for your departure through a thorough handover. Giving clear and detailed instructions on where and how best to pick up from where you left off, even on caseloads or projects that are ongoing will go a long way in demonstrating your professionalism to your employer and will make the transition smoother for your successor.
  • Your workload may decrease as you hand over cases and cease to take on new ones. However, under no circumstances should you slack off. You didn’t start your time with the firm that way, so don’t end it that way.

Remember, the legal industry is tightly connected, and the last thing you want reaching your employer’s ears is any unsavoury news about them or the firm.

Counteroffers: What To Do If One Is On The Table?

Receiving a counteroffer from your current employer may seem like a dream come true. You hand in your notice and then the managing partners at your firm offer you a pay rise and a host of concessions that you had only dreamed about until now. Wonderful! No need to move after all.

Unfortunately, counteroffers are not the solution they often appear to be at first, and yet, statistics show that only 5% of all counteroffers are declined. Considering firms are doing everything they can to hold onto talent, rather than replace it, in a market filled with uncertainty, is a counteroffer really the answer to your prayers?

Only you can answer that. Think long and hard before accepting a counteroffer. Will this counteroffer help you achieve your personal or professional goals? Will it remove the doubts you had about your future with the firm? Will extra cash in the pay packet compensate for an unhelpful culture and work environment or the lack of time available for the family for most of the week? If your answers to these questions are not hard and fast ‘Yeses’, politely declining the offer may be better.

Preparing For Your Next Challenge – Rest and Reset

In addition to the practical aspects of the preparation you’ll likely already have done for day one of your new job, getting yourself in the right frame of mind in order to hit the ground running is also crucial. Whether you take some time off for a holiday or just use a weekend between roles to recharge, allow yourself time to mentally disengage from your previous job. If you’re struggling to settle the nerves, reflecting on any work highlights of your previous role, and how this has helped to make you the successful candidate can be a good confidence booster. Arriving with a positive, can-do attitude can and will make all the difference to your first day and beyond.

The Best Job Offer? The One That’s Best For You

Ultimately, the best job offer is one that meets your needs – and it is likely that you had a list of requirements (including non-negotiables) when you started the process. How does the offer compare?

Is the remuneration package in line with what you were looking for? Does the role allow you to work three days a week? Can you work from home or from a regional office, rather than a central HQ if that was your preference? You are in the best position to answer those questions and find the right path for you, yet a specialist legal recruiter could be the guide you need to get you there.

So, if you’re struggling to get the offers you want, need some guidance around offer negotiation, or have rejected the offer on the table and are starting the process again – we can help.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.


Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.


Share This Post