The Eagle Blog

Counter Offers

I was asked to comment on the issue of counter offers as presented on one of my competitor’s websites.

This is not a response to your article, but I was wondering what your take is on the ‘counter offer’ situation as described in http://www.procom.ca/newsletter_11_1.aspx

Since I was wondering what today’s blog might be about this seemed like an appropriate topic!

My take is a little different than the author’s but I can also empathise with their point of view. As a recruitment company we invest a great deal of time in finding, screening and matching candidates to our client’s needs. Then we work with the candidate through multiple interviews and hopefully to the offer stage. It is hard work and there are many reasons why that work will end up with no payment … a candidate deciding to take a counter-offer is amongst the most frustrating.

Having said that, we are talking about the candidate’s career and ultimately they have to decide what is best for them. The only thing we can do as recruiters is to really understand their level of commitment to moving to a new role. We try hard to ensure people we put in front of our clients are serious about moving or we end up looking bad for wasting our client’s time, in addition to suffering the frustration of a lost sale! Sometimes we get surprised, sometimes we don’t really uncover their true motivations and sometimes we just get it wrong.

I don’t think you can state that someone should never accept a counter offer. Sometimes it takes the reality of someone at the precipice of leaving before an employer wakes up to their true value … or the candidate realises that in the cold light of day the devil they know really isn’t so bad.

In my experience, running a company for the last 12 years it has not been a common practice but when we have counter offered I have felt it was the right decision, some people left and some stayed. I don’t believe that makes us a poor employer or them poor employees. We have also had a number of people return to the company and even more who have enquired about the possibility … and that has been very positive. Is that very different than choosing to stay?

I’m not a black and white person … I don’t believe there is a Golden Rule of counter offers. Good people are in demand, we try to get them for ourselves and for our clients. If we do our jobs well then we will win more than we lose … but they will decide what is best for them.


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4 thoughts on “Counter Offers

  1. I was really put off by the implication that good companies don’t counter-offer, and good employees don’t accept counter-offers.

    Ideally, this situation would never come up because companies are supposed to retain their best people by ensuring that they are properly rewarded. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

    I once left a very large company because my immediate manager blocked a transfer request without my knowledge. I wanted to move to a more technical position, but he advised me that there weren’t any openings.

    I didn’t find out that he was lying until after I’d tendered my resignation.

    At my exit interview, the division VP asked if there was anything they could do to make me stay.

    IMO, this was a perfectly appropriate thing for him to do given the circumstances, and was not a sign of ‘weakness’ on the company’s part.

    So Kevin, I agree with you that there are shades of grey everywhere.

  2. I was really put off by the implication that good companies don’t counter-offer, and good employees don’t accept counter-offers.

    Ideally, this situation would never come up because companies are supposed to retain their best people by ensuring that they are properly rewarded. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

    I once left a very large company because my immediate manager blocked a transfer request without my knowledge. I wanted to move to a more technical position, but he advised me that there weren’t any openings.

    I didn’t find out that he was lying until after I’d tendered my resignation.

    At my exit interview, the division VP asked if there was anything they could do to make me stay.

    IMO, this was a perfectly appropriate thing for him to do given the circumstances, and was not a sign of ‘weakness’ on the company’s part.

    So Kevin, I agree with you that there are shades of grey everywhere.

  3. I think its good for writers to express different opinions, it promotes discussion and debate. I also think the author put good effort and thought into the subject, but I was left feeling it was a little self-serving … which I guess is the idea.

    I am a huge fan of our industry and am fully aware of the daily challenges we have … but I try to understand issues from all sides. If a solution is not beneficial to ALL then someone loses and that hurts everyone in the end.

    Good topic … thanks!

  4. I think its good for writers to express different opinions, it promotes discussion and debate. I also think the author put good effort and thought into the subject, but I was left feeling it was a little self-serving … which I guess is the idea.

    I am a huge fan of our industry and am fully aware of the daily challenges we have … but I try to understand issues from all sides. If a solution is not beneficial to ALL then someone loses and that hurts everyone in the end.

    Good topic … thanks!

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