Counteroffers Part 1: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

4 mins read
Job Seeker

Despite Covid-19 and too many lockdowns to count—or perhaps in part because of them—the job market is hot right now. The unemployment rate is 4%: that’s lower than predicted by analysts, and lower than before the pandemic.  There are plenty of roles out there for those who are looking to move jobs, and for employers, it’s getting harder and harder to fill empty roles. This puts those in the former category in an unusual spot. If you’re in the midst of job hunting right now, you might find yourself in the position of needing to handle a counteroffer —and we know many people have never dealt with this before.

Because of this noteworthy increase in counteroffers, I’ve been speaking with our teams about some of the offer situations we’re seeing. Our aim is to compare information amongst ourselves on how to manage these situations, and discuss how best to support our candidates and clients through the offer process. I thought I’d share some of these ideas, context, advice and tips with all the candidates out there who will potentially face this scenario.

For those doing the hiring, I’ve got a follow up post scheduled for next week with some advice for recruiters and employers.


Job hunting in a tight market


If you’re job hunting right now, it’s an exciting, yet challenging time.  It’s likely that you will be applying for more than one job; most people do.  Given the current climate, if you’re experienced in the field you are applying to and have the relevant background and skills, it’s not improbable that you’ll receive more than one job offer — or a counteroffer from your current employer, when you let them know you’re resigning.

Now is the time to think about how you will handle this rousing but possibly a little intimidating situation. After all, making important, life-altering decisions under pressure is not easy; you want to be able to look back and know that you made the right choice, and that you handled it well.


Seven Considerations for Counteroffers


  1. Be clear on the reasons you are considering resigning, or if you’ve resigned, refresh your memory. Will the promise of a 10% salary increase resolve the commute issues you’ve had since you moved house? Does a bump in annual leave make sense to you, if you are leaving because you cannot see any opportunity for career progression?
  2. Following on from point No. 1, ask yourself before it comes up, are you willing stay with your current organisation, if they make an offer? Test your gut reaction now, while you are free of the pressure to answer, avoiding clouded judgement and confusion.
  3. Make a list of the key job attributes, benefits and organisational features that matter to you and identify out of those, what is most important? A ranked list will come in handy.  Then, if you do receive more than one job offer, or a counteroffer, you have something solid to assess these offers against.
  4. As tempting as it may be, try to avoid getting two businesses into a bidding war. Negotiation is fine, but chopping and changing your mind multiple times is frustrating for everyone involved.
  5. Treat the process respectfully – with both your current and potential employer – and with your recruiter. Transparency and honesty are always the best policy, and you can do both while still looking after yourself. If you are working with a recruiter, they will be able to provide advice and guidance through the process.
  6. Be mindful of your own reputation. Not being upfront about where you are at, pushing too hard, and even communicating poorly can leave a bad taste. Protect your personal brand for your future career plans by behaving with integrity.
  7. Once you’ve made the decision, own it. Inform all the various parties as soon as possible, that might be after you have signed your new contract. No one likes being ghosted (and everyone remembers when it happens!)

If you are a job seeker who finds yourself in a position with multiple job offers and/or a counteroffer – congratulations!  While it can be challenging, it’s still a flattering position to be in. We hope that these points will help guide you through the process, and steer you into your next great role.

If you are on the hiring side of things, wanting to handle offers with candidates successfully, stay tuned for Part 2 next week.

Christian Brown
Chief Operating Officer - Madison and Absolute IT

A bit about me I began my career as a corporate lawyer in a large New Zealand private practice firm. Like many others before me, I ‘fell’ into the recruitment world in 2009.…

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