Should you accept a counter-offer?
In the highly competitive legal market, counter offers are commonplace as employers do all they can to retain talent. Law firms know how tough it is to find talented lawyers who fit in well culturally so when one is looking to leave, there is no surprise that they often pull out all the stops to prevent that happening.
The most common forms of counter offer are an increased salary, a promotion and change of job title, promises of work more aligned to interests or a combination of these. Counter offers are often flattering and can make the employee feel valued and question their decision to resign. Our main tips to consider when reviewing a counter offer are as follows:
Remember why you were looking to leave in the first place. Although more money or a vote of confidence may be momentarily flattering, is this just papering over the cracks? Do not accept a good counter offer immediately, take time to think it over and drill down into your original reasons for looking to leave and assess whether they’re still relevant.
Look for realistic promises. It is common for employers to make guarantees about how your role will change, you will get work on that project, be on the pathway to promotion etc etc….. In our experience, promises can often turn out to be empty and you will face the same issues and frustrations in a few months time. You need to be comfortable that you have a strong commitment from your employer that will be realised. This can often be hard to assess, but ask for any commitment in writing so that you have a record and reference point.
Is there a fundamental issue? If it has taken your resignation to prompt a response from your employer, is there a fundamental issue not being dealt with? Why are you only being offered more interesting work, a promotion or more money now rather than before your resignation?
Trust. Now your employer will know that you haven’t been entirely happy and were going to leave. How will this impact the short and long term relationship you have with your employer? If there is a lack of trust, it can make for an unpleasant working environment which rarely works out long term.
Stick to your guns. Once you have taken a couple of days to consider and weigh up all of your options, make a decision and then stick to it. If you decide to leave, thank your employer for the opportunity and reaffirm your intentions. If you decide to stay, professionally regret the other offer and then ensure you have a clear plan for your career with your current employer, including implementation of any changes resulting from the counter offer.