The Counteroffer Conundrum: Why Staying Put May Curtail Your Career
- Posted by Lynn Sedgwick
- August 11, 2022
So, you’ve made it through most of the complex steps involved in finding a new role, from designing the ideal legal CV to practicing interview techniques. Finally, all your hard work has paid off, and you’ve received an excellent offer from your new employer.
But, what happens when you hand over your resignation letter and your current manager provides a counteroffer, asking you to stay?
Anywhere up to 50% of the employees who choose to resign from a role will receive a counteroffer from their current employer. In other words, they will finally offer you the additional money or benefits they didn’t consider offering you before they realised you wanted to leave.
In the age of the Great Resignation, when demand for legal talent is higher than ever, your chances of getting a counteroffer are even higher than ever before, as many law firms are battling with retention of their top team members and attracting the best talent on the market at the same time.
While the promise of extra benefits, money, or extra responsibilities from your existing employer might be tempting, if that’s what you are looking for, accepting a counteroffer could be a bad move for your future career.
Here are the reasons why you should usually ignore a counteroffer.
Reasons You Should Consider Saying “No” to a Counteroffer
Counteroffers are becoming more commonplace as leaders struggle to hold onto their top talent in a skills-short environment. Unfortunately, according to statistics, around 80% of the people who accept these offers end up leaving their original employer within six months anyway as the underlying issues as to why there were leaving in the first place still exist.
Here’s why you should politely but firmly decline a counteroffer.
1. Counteroffers Don’t Solve Underlying Issues
Deciding to seek a new legal role isn’t something most people will do on a whim. There’s a good chance you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of leaving your current job and looking for something else before you take the leap.
When you’re given a counteroffer, it may address one of your problems with your existing role (such as a low salary), but it’s unlikely to tackle every issue that convinced you to leave.
Ask yourself why you wanted to take this new job in the first place. Is your current role not challenging enough, or are you planning on moving in a new direction with your career? Maybe you don’t like the culture of your existing company. If every issue isn’t resolved by the counteroffer, you should say “no” and continue to move on with your new employment offer.
2. The Relationship with Your Employer will Change
Employees in the competitive legal sector have every right to seek new roles whenever they choose. However, letting your employer know you’re not happy in your role and actively looking for something else is likely to have an impact on your relationship.
There’s a good chance your employer will have questions about your loyalty after accepting the counteroffer, which means they may not have the same trust in you they had before. Your employer might end up passing you over for promotions because they consider you a flight risk, or they may start looking for other people to fill the gap you’ll leave when you do eventually switch jobs.
Even if your boss goes in the other direction and starts working harder to keep you happy, there’s likely to be an uncomfortable dynamic in play until you do eventually leave.
3. You May End Up Standing Still
Career development often involves moving between different roles, exploring new jobs, and taking on new responsibilities over the years. While you can climb the ladder in one law firm and end up with a great career, consistently staying in one place could mean you miss out on opportunities to expand your skills and experience.
When deciding whether a counteroffer is worth accepting, ask yourself if you’ll still be moving towards your long-term career goals if you say yes and stay put. Compared to the other job you have lined up, can your existing role help you achieve your targets faster?
A higher salary won’t satisfy you for long if your existing role isn’t pushing you in the right direction. It’s important to keep the end goal in mind with your career and not get clouded by monetary values.
4. You May Have to Work Harder to Prove Yourself
In a skills-short legal marketplace, employers will often rush to offer extra benefits and increased salaries to avoid the stress of searching for new employees. However, this could mean they start looking for evidence you’re worth the extra investment right away.
Having extra scrutiny placed on everything you do within the business can be a stressful experience, even if you know you deserve 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 you start receiving responsibilities you didn’t ask for simply because your boss is trying to ensure they’re getting their “money’s worth” from you.
5. You’ll Always Wonder, “What If?”
Job changes can be stressful and worrying, but they’re also an incredible opportunity to unlock your true potential and advance your career. If you’ve been offered a role at another company, and you’ve said “yes”, there’s clearly something about the new role that appealed to you.
Maybe you loved the idea of working remotely in the legal environment and don’t have an opportunity to do that at your new job. Perhaps you were interested in focusing on a slightly different part of your industry in a different role and that desire will always be there if you stay in your current role.
Although you’ll have the comfort of not having to get used to a new workplace and meet new people, you’ll also be left constantly wondering what would have happened if you had followed through and moved into the new job.
Know How to Handle a Counteroffer
It’s worth preparing for a counteroffer in advance when you approach your manager with your resignation letter. Think about how you will reject the offer politely and firmly, and what important factors might convince you to give your old job a second chance.
Working with a specialist legal recruitment team to find the ideal new role will help to ensure you don’t have any doubts about moving into your new position.
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.