How I (almost) committed career suicide
Two years ago I took a good hard look at my career, gave the interview process my best shot and was offered my dream job. Then I nearly turned my dream job down.
Why? Why was I about to commit career suicide? My (then) employer called me into their office, made me a cup of tea, looked me in the eye and promised that they would give me a pay rise if I stayed put. I cant say that I wasn’t tempted. After everything, why was it so difficult to make the right decision and walk away?
Yes, CV writing can be mundane and yes, face to face interviews can be nerve racking and yes, deciding how to celebrate an offer can be tricky. But the really difficult bit is being brave enough to walk away from your current employer. And the really really difficult bit is being brave enough to walk away from your current employer when they respond to your notice with a big fat counter offer.
In today’s candidate driven market counter offers are increasingly used by employers who are reluctant to enter into the recruitment fray; I have already spoken to two new clients this week (and it’s only Wednesday!) who have lost candidates to counter offers. If you are a candidate in today’s employment market you should expect one. But maybe you shouldn’t accept one.
- Money doesn’t make the world go round
Once upon a time you decided that you were not happy in your current role and you needed to look for something new. Maybe there were no opportunities to progress, maybe there were no new challenges or projects to get your teeth into or maybe you just didn’t like the team. Whatever the reason, the chances are it wont be put right by more money. Don’t get me wrong; a little more money would be nice. You could have a posh coffee on the way to work every morning, or a swanky evening out every now and then but guess what? You will still have no opportunities to progress, you will still have no challenges and you will still dislike your team. If you are unhappy at work today a latte and a hangover won’t make you happy tomorrow.
Even worse, accepting more money to stay can leave you with an expensive problem. Still unhappy, you are now earning a higher salary; potentially more than the market feels you are worth. Have you priced yourself out of your next role?
Write down bullet points of all of the reasons WHY you want to leave; if you have written down one lonely bullet point which says “more money” then accept a counter offer. If not, don’t.
- Coincidence is a funny old thing
“Honestly, we were going to give you more pay before you resigned.”
Imagine; you have accepted an offer for your new dream job (yay!), you sit down with your current manager, you hand them your letter of resignation…and they beg you stay. Who wouldn’t be flattered? They must really love you and value your work. I am afraid not, most companies offer you more money to stay because it is easier and cheaper than replacing you. With the average cost of recruiting a new member of staff anywhere between £4,000 and £10,000 (according to the CIPD), it is always more economical for cost conscious employers to convince you to stay than replace you.
If your employer wanted to offer you a pay rise or a bonus they would have done so by now. It doesn’t matter how close you are to your boss, a counter offer is a business decision NOT a compliment.
- Your cards are marked
Handing your notice is nailing your colours to the mast. In fact, it’s nailing a massive flag with the words “I want to leave” in bright red capital letters to the mast. For now and ever more you will be the employee who wants to leave. The next time your boss is under pressure to reduce headcount in the finance team you can expect to find your name at the top of the list for the cut (because you want to leave anyway, don’t you?) . More than that, the next time your boss is shortlisting for an internal promotion or pay rise you can expect to find your name at the bottom of the list for the step up (because you want to leave anyway, don’t you?).
And it is not just your current employee who will know you as a candidate who can be bought. It might seem easy as pie to go back to the shiny new company who have made you an offer and back out, but they have a long memory too. And they have friends. After all, they have invested their time interviewing you and put themselves on the line by offering you a role only for you to accept then reject their offer. It is highly unlikely that they will ever offer you a role or even interview you again. If they are a large corporation this could shut you out of hundred of future opportunities, if they are a SME or small business they will have close (probably personal) connections to other businesses in the area.
It’s a small world out there.
Of all of the candidates I have met who have been wooed back by a counter offer I can’t think of a single one who looked back and thought they made the right decision. In fact, some surveys show that 80-90% of candidates who accept a counter offer move on (some voluntarily, some not so voluntarily) within 6-12 months anyway.
Turning down a counter offer is daunting and difficult. Be brave. Accept the job offer you deserve, remind yourself why you want a new role and do not let yourself be tempted to stay in a job that makes you unhappy.
“Everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear”. George Addair
P.S I turned down my counter offer, accepted my dream job as a specialist recruiter and couldn’t be happier. If you need to talk about your career you can call me on 01159607000.