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Joanne Lack, a senior consultant based at the Birmingham office of BCL Legal, who has over 12 years legal recruitment experience, comments as to why you should never accept a counter offer but to always expect one.
As the legal market continues to improve, firms keen to retain their fee earners are more likely to make a counter offer and whilst being ‘bought back’ can be flattering you should never lose sight of why you were looking to leave in the first place.
Counter offers never work in the long term. Statistics show that an overwhelming percentage of people who accept a counter offer will have moved on anyway within 6-12 months and this is because the novelty of a salary increase wears off pretty quickly and all the reasons you were looking to leave in the first place are still there! Not exactly rocket science!! From an employer’s point of view, whilst they are keen to retain you and have made a counter offer, questions will have been raised internally over your commitment and loyalty and your relationship with your employer will never be the same again. Beware; counter offers rarely work for the following reasons:
• Your employer will take your lack of loyalty into account when it comes to promotions
• When times get tough, your employer will begin the cutbacks with you
• Your relationship with your colleagues will never be the same once word gets out, particularly if you are responsible for a team or work closely within a team
• Your employer is likely to begin looking for your replacement irrespective of whether you leave as they cannot afford the threat to their business
• The fact you have been bought back may impact later on your sense of pride
• If you have previously asked for a salary increase and it had been refused, but you have been given one through a counter offer, where is this extra money coming from? Is it just an advance on a salary increase you would/should have been given anyway?
• A counter offer should ring alarm bells as to the type of company you work for. Why should you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you’re worth?
• The reasons that made you want to leave in the first place will quickly recur once the novelty of a salary increase has worn off
You should also bear in mind that you will have blotted your copy book with the firm you interviewed with and who you let down by accepting the counter offer. The legal market is a small world in reality. Think about how accepting this counter offer will affect your ability to secure another role once you are back in the job market, which will only be a matter of time!