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The Counteroffer Conundrum: Why Staying Put May Curtail Your Career

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. 

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. 

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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Time to move on? Top 10 Tips to resign gracefully

  • July 13, 2022

With the prospect of a new role on the horizon, arguably the hard bit is done. You have aced your interviews, impressed your new Firm, and are no doubt looking to the future and the next steps in your career.

But even with the excitement of a new legal position looming, there is still an incredibly important step to take in making that move – handing in your resignation to your current Firm.

Here we offer our top tips on how to address this often-uncomfortable conversation – and ultimately remain professional, and on good terms as you exit the business.

1. Communicate to your Manager first

With an exciting new role to look forward to, it can be tempting to tell close associates and friends, however the first person who should hear about it is your reporting manager. If a senior partner, or even your Manager themselves hears about your intention to leave from another colleague, it goes without saying that it won’t leave a favourable impression which is ultimately what a well-thought our resignation is trying to achieve.

Arrange a time to speak to your Manager and let them know the situation first. Face to face is ideal as it minimises any misunderstandings or miscommunication, although video call would also work well for those who work remotely or in order to expediate the process.  It is best practice to verbally tell your Manager of your intention to leave along with the reasons that have led to that decision as it is highly likely that you will be asked both why you are leaving and where you are going to – so it’s wise to have a response planned.

 

2. Be prepared for conversations around negotiation

Whatever the reason or reasons for leaving your current firm, it is always worth having a preliminary conversation before you start looking for new opportunities, to see if those initial reasons may be overcome. If, however that conversation didn’t take place, you should nevertheless consider what you would do should a counter-offer be on the table once your make your intention to resign clear.

In the current market, where demand for legal professionals is outstripping supply, this is exceptionally common, so you need to at least be prepared for such a scenario and ask yourself, would you actually accept a counter-offer?. The answer to that lies in ultimately revisiting the reasons you wish to leave in the first place.

Counter-offers take many forms including increased pay, a promotion, enhanced benefits, or a combination of all of those, and there is no doubt that it can feel flattering to be in that position. However, research suggests that 80% of people who accept a counter-offer tend to leave within 6-12 months of accepting. Is it likely you’ll also be part of that statistic?

 

3. Prepare your resignation letter

Once the decision to leave is final, you must put this in writing. When it comes to your resignation letter, it should be short and polite. Within the letter itself, it is not necessary to justify your reasons for leaving your current law firm or go into lengthy explanations as you can are likely to have (or have had) a more informal chat about this with your reporting Manager. The document is simply to cover the legalities of ending your contractual agreement with your employer and will be kept on record, so details like the date of the notice, confirmation of notice period, and last working day should be accurate.

You may wish to use the formal communication as an opportunity to highlight things you are grateful for – skills you have learnt, help and advice you have received, and opportunities to boost your legal career that have been offered, but that is not mandatory. Do, however avoid the temptation to criticise your colleagues, boss, partners or clients.

 

4. Discuss Those Finer Details

Your Manager will mostly likely want to discuss with you the finer details around how and when you will let colleagues know you are leaving. You may wish to inform them individually, or as a group, or have your Manager tell them for you.

You also need to confirm your notice period and how this effects your new role start date. This should be communicated clearly in your contract of employment, but it is always worth a conversation on whether it is realistic to shorten this (if desired by any party) or even extended on request.

Whether your notice period is 2 weeks, 2 months or anything in between, its important you are aware of this before giving your new employer a start date that you may not be able to commit to. Be prepared that in some cases, you may be placed on gardening leave rather than working your notice period.

Garden leave (or gardening leave) is when an employer tells an employee not to work either part or all of their notice period. This could be because the employer does not want the employee to have access to sensitive or confidential information they could use in a new job (Source: ACAS) In this case, you are still employed by your employer, just not working for them and therefore you are still entitled to your salary and contractual agreements in this period of time.

 

5. Plan A Robust Handover

Scheduling time to plan for a smooth transition shows you to be a true legal professional and not someone who leaves a law firm or an employer in the lurch, or projects unfinished. Think about your specific areas of responsibility – current caseloads, unfinished assigments, urgent jobs and upcoming commitments, as well as information on your clients that your successor or wider team will need.

If possible, invest some time in training up your successor, or at least making formal handover notes, to ensure you minimise the impact on the firm when you leave and once again, keep the working relationship positive.

 

6. Start Clearing Your Desk

Once colleagues are aware that you are leaving, you can start to clear your desk so that it’s ready for the next occupant. Removing paperwork, filing and archiving, binning wastepaper and taking personal items such as photographs home will ensure your workplace is ready, clean and welcoming for the next person.

 

7. Stay Committed

It may be tempting to spend time planning what you will do in your upcoming new legal role (and if time permits, there is definitely merit in keeping in touch with your new employer during your notice period – following their social media accounts to keep track of the latest news, be aware of any networking events etc) but nevertheless, you are still being paid to do your current job – so it’s important to remain committed to that role until the very end.

Remaining an active team player, working hard up to the last minute and completing casework where possible will be noted by colleagues and your employer and will ensure you leave on a positive note – and your professional reputation within the legal community follows you as you move on.

 

8. Embrace The Exit Interview

If you are offered an exit interview by your law firm, it’s always a good idea to take that opportunity while you can. These usually take place between yourself and a HR manager and are aimed at establishing any way in which they can improve the firm or addressing issues of which they may be unaware of.

While you can, at this point, bring to light any concerns you might have, keep your observations professional and your criticism constructive, always keeping in mind not to burn any bridges.

Taking these steps will not only provide closure on your previous role but will ensure you leave your law firm a well-respected and professional ex-colleague, with whom your former team and senior partners will be happy to network with and recommend in the future.

 

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help and market insight, your transition can be smoother and quicker – and get you the outcome you’re looking for.

 

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.

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The Great Resignation: Are You Prepared?

  • January 12, 2022

In the last couple of years, all segments of the job market have experienced significant changes.

The first stages of the pandemic, in many sectors, resulted in a hold on recruitment. On the other side candidates decided to stay put with their current employer as economic uncertainty took its toll across the UK.

Cycle forward to today and we are looking at a different scenario.

The back pressure of employees who would normally move and the experience of more flexible working options being possible, has resulted in more employees considering a move as confirmed by a number of recent research reports by both Microsoft and Randstad.

A concern for all legal employers; First let us look at the data in more detail.

The Microsoft Work Trend Index report based on over 30,00 responses from Microsoft partners and employees revealed that 46% of respondents plan to move because they can now work remotely.

Confirmation of this move of human capital came from research revealed on a recent Randstad UK, presentation where Christine Armstrong a management consultant and bestselling author shared that 69% of employees felt confident about finding and moving to a new role within a few months.

This was based on data from a poll of over 6000 adults in the UK. The survey found that those in construction, manufacturing, tech, and logistics were among the most confident in the country where 74 % said they felt confident about moving to a new job now.

HR, legal, and accountancy professionals were among the least confident in the country although call centre workers were the least confident at 59%.

The disparity between groups is not huge and it still demonstrates that many people in our workforce are confident about moving to a new job.

Vacancies created by the pandemic, combined with new flexible working options, has created considerable new opportunities for legal professionals. Consequently, Law firms will begin to feel the pressure of the “Great Resignation” in the coming months

Let us explore a few definitions here.

 

What is the “Great Resignation”

The “Great Resignation” is the term used to refer to the increase in the number of people leaving their existing roles after the COVID pandemic.

Factors like excessive burnout during the pandemic, unhappiness with work/life balance, and the rise of new opportunities in most sectors have pushed many employees to reconsider what they now want from their careers.

The number of open jobs in the UK surpassed 1 million for the first time ever in August of 2021, and all industries face a threat. Many job seekers, according to Randstad, are not concerned about the task of actually finding a new role either as they see the number of roles available for skilled employees on multiple job boards and recruitment company websites.

Data provided by the ONS government website shares that around 9% of people changed jobs each year between 2000 and 2018; this ranged from a post-recession low of 5.7% in 2010 to a high of approximately 10.9% in 2017 and 2018.

Logically, you would expect a stall on staff movement in the preliminary stages of Covid, which is what happened; therefore, you would expect a natural upturn in people moving.

But is a mass exit predicted in the headlines simply speculation at this stage? Whilst it is arguably still too early to tell, especially with the latest developments in the ongoing pandemic, figures from ONS’s recent Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows resignations and job-to-job moves are already at their highest in 20 years based on data from quarter 3, 2021. What remains to be seen is the further impact the end of furlough had on the data moving into this final quarter although it is fair to say that the stats so far, alongside the rapid change in employment opportunities for today’s professionals, mean there is enough information available to prompt employers to sit up and take notice.

While not every law firm will necessarily see a mass exodus of staff, all firms will need to be prepared for managing a change in working preferences and expectations.

 

What Can Employers Do?

Even if the great resignation is not having an immediate impact on your firm, legal companies need to be prepared. The problems causing mass resignation in various industries are as significant for law firms as any other sector. Firms will begin to see their talented staff looking for more flexibility, support, and recognition from new employers.

The most valuable thing legal firms can do to stay ahead of the current market is to build their employer brand so that their communication out into the market highlights their culture as a caring and compassionate firm with a commitment to developing their people at their core.

In line with building a compelling brand firms need to be future focussed as they plan for the growth of their team. Though gaps and resignation can occur without warning developing an organisational talent plan can minimise these events. If you require help in developing your talent plan do get in touch as we are working with a number of firms currently on their talent plan.

Alongside working with the right legal recruitment team, law firms will also need to consider other strategies for retaining and attracting talent, such as:

  1. Extending remote work options For many employees in the legal field, the last couple of years has been clear proof the physical workplace is not a necessary ingredient of productivity. Surveys have found 39% of people would consider quitting their role if their employer wasn’t flexible with remote working. Now could be the right time for your firm to consider remote and hybrid working opportunities and how they might work for your team.
  2. Provide the right training Employers and managers need to feel empowered to work well in the existing remote landscape. Managers will need the training to ensure they are still engaging legal teams wherever they might be. Legal professionals may need assistance to use the tools crucial to their remote work practices as effectively as possible. Ongoing training and development will make your team feel like you are investing in them and their future, improving retention.
  3. Improve Workplace Wellbeing Today’s team members are less willing to remain with employers who they feel are not putting their best interests at heart. Today’s staff members are feeling increasingly overwhelmed and burned out in their legal careers. If your legal team feel overwhelmed by work and you are not giving them enough support, they are more likely to look elsewhere. Investing in tools to improve your employee’s well-being and taking their unique needs into account will be essential.

 

What’s Next for Law Firms?

Handling the potential threat of a “great resignation” in the legal industry can be a daunting prospect. Legal professionals can take a lot longer to source, recruit, and onboard than any average staff member, presenting significant problems.

The best way to deal with the great resignation is to get ahead of it as quickly as possible. Assess the sentiment of your legal team towards your culture and determine what kind of things might cause them to seek alternative employment, such as lack of flexible working opportunities or limited recognition from business leaders.

Conducting a series of “stay” interviews rather than waiting for exit interviews should allow you to understand better what is keeping your professionals around.

 

About Clayton Legal

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

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

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