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Beware the Counteroffer, Part 2: Tips for Employees

CSA1177In our last post, we discussed best practices for current and potential employers when extending or competing with counteroffers during the recruiting process. Now we’ll turn our attention to current and potential employees, and provide advice for individuals who may receive counteroffers while they are being recruited by other organizations. As with employers, it is critical for employees to understand that counteroffers will likely be in play if they are being recruited away from their current position. There are four basic points employees need to understand when navigating the counteroffer process. If they master these main principles, they will better their position with both their current and future employers.

First and foremost, employees should be prepared to receive a counteroffer. In fact, they should expect it. An employee should not go into a negotiation with a potential employer without expecting to receive a counteroffer from their current employer. It is easier for employers to keep an existing employee than to hire and train a new one, so in most cases, they are likely to extend a counteroffer. An employee’s expectation of a counteroffer will help them mentally prepare for the decision it forces them to make, and avoid a “rushed” feeling late in the recruiting process.

Employees should also be prepared to stand their ground. Unless an employee is violating legally binding contracts, such as non-compete agreements, that individual has the right to pursue employment opportunities that may be in their best interest, both personally and professionally. Therefore employees should be resolute in their command of the recruiting process. Pressures will likely mount from current and future employers, but the decision remains solely in the hands of the employee.

If a counteroffer is extended, then by definition an employee has already given some sort of indication to a new employer that he or she is interested in the new position. So it’s important for employees to consider the value of keeping their word to their new potential employers. Most employers understand the difficult emotions involved in asking someone to leave their current position, and most will reward individuals who persevere throughout the process and keep their word to their new professional home.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, employees should be mindful that once a counteroffer is extended, current employers often will have already evaluated that employee’s loyalty – or lack thereof, in the opinion of some. An employee’s willingness to pursue a position elsewhere is often interpreted as a sign of disloyalty to a current employer. This interpretation is weighed carefully by the current employer when they are extending a counteroffer. If an employee accepts a counteroffer, they should do so with an expectation that their employer will be mindful of their perceived “disloyalty” in future decisions regarding promotions, compensation changes, and other important workplace choices.  In fact, several studies have shown that 50-80% of employees who accept counteroffers end up leaving their employer or are removed from their position within 6-12 months.

Managing the counteroffer process is often even more difficult for a candidate/employee than for current and future employers. That’s why it is so important for individuals to be properly prepared to handle the complicated and emotional decisions involved in the process. At Schaffer Associates, we know how to coach job candidates through every step and educate them on what to expect. Our seasoned professionals improve a candidate’s ability to evaluate the options and make the best decisions. Businesses looking for top talent need to utilize professionals who understand how to help their preferred candidates navigate the murky counteroffer process. That’s exactly what Schaffer Associates can provide for you.