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Counter Offers – Be Prepared to Be True to Yourself and Your Career

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Four weeks have passed since you had the initial conversation with the recruiter about a new role that sounded absolutely fantastic.

You’ve met with the managers, explored their offices, and been introduced to your future team.

They are as excited to have you onboard as you are to finally secure the title and the pay rise you have been looking for.

You sign your name on the dotted line. Everyone is ecstatic.

But then comes the harsh reality of having to do the oh-so-dreaded resignation to your current employer... the questions, the explanation...

What? When? Where? Why? How?

Your current employer comes back with a counter offer to encourage you to stay; it has the title and the pay rise you were looking for.

What do you do?

It’s a tricky question and one that has become far more common here in Western Australia following the increased demand for experienced individuals off the back of strong results and growth within the resources sector, coupled with the challenges presented by COVID over the last few years. My day-to-day role now sees me regularly discussing a candidate’s approach to a counter offer, with most thinking that it is something they need to consider when they are about to resign. However, I encourage that we start this conversation far earlier in your search!

So when?

Before we even start looking at other roles is where it truly starts. Your motivations to find a new opportunity are key. Outline these early and have a conversation with someone you trust—your partner, friend, mentor, recruiter—someone you can go back to when the counter offer arrives on your doorstep and have the same conversation again to ensure you are thinking objectively and are still aligned with those same motivations and reasons.

If these reasons are for promotion, salary, or something that could be changed through a conversation with your current employer, I strongly encourage you to have this conversation at the start before you apply to something new. Know where you stand, and maybe, just maybe, asking the question will save you a lot of time and get you closer to where you want to be.

A careful decision-making process.

So, you have your new offer, you’ve got your counter offer. There are a few key points to visit here as you make your decision.

Be wary of short-term gains: Immediate increases in salary and an exciting new title can be really tempting, especially when it comes with a side of staying in the comfort of a business and team that you already know. Truly consider whether staying with your current employer aligns with your longer-term career development and goals, and whether there is a genuine commitment from them to see you grow further within the business. Just remember, though, you did ask your manager for these things before you even began applying, didn’t you?

Revisit the conversation with your trusted individual: Go speak with the partner, friend, mentor, recruiter again! Discuss those initial motivations and reasons for looking again and look at the two offers objectively. What prompted you to start seeking a new opportunity in the first place and are these reasons addressed in the counter offer?

The bigger picture: Which offer provides you with the better long-term growth and development? Assess the potential impact on your future career with this decision.

Remain professional: Ensure that you are professional in your communication and delivery through the process and with your answers. Maintaining relationships with these individuals is important for the future!

Ultimately, the process of both understanding and managing a counter offer is delicate and requires careful consideration. The key here is to stay true to yourself, think about the reason you began seeking a new opportunity in the first place, your initial motivations and aspirations, and to make a decision that aligns not only with these but also with what is best for you both personally and professionally in the long term.

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