Back again, the “ Counter Offer ” so why does it come and go?

counter offer decisionWhy do some colleagues get one and others do not? Is it luck or timing?

Hopefully this post will go beyond the obvious “you will likely leave in 6 months upon accepting a counter offer” and “your boss will not promote you to higher roles in the future because you threatened to leave!”

The “counter offer” happens when the employment market hardens. HR policies are consequently impacted and there are clear issues in trying to hire skilled workers, experience or expertise.

It is easy to see the competition between companies and, in some cases, the impact upon business, profit or projects.

Internally, many organisations can clearly see an identifiable financial cost. It is a time to act differently, to reach into the drawer and to play the “counter offer” joker card.

Any “counter offer” needs thought and needs to be understood.  So what has to be considered?

A current or existing employer can evaluate what they know about an employee, make a judgement call based on the quality of their work, past experiences and knowledge from team or colleague comparisons. A “counter offer” situation helps the current employer who has the confidence to take action to retain good staff for potentially on a longer term basis.

For the person receiving one, rarely is there a guarantee of future promotion, leadership or other longer-term position with greater responsibilities. In many cases, the offer simply addresses a short-term company business need.

The competing company, who had engaged with the potential new employee, conducted interviews and reviewed the potential new employee against others to rank their skills and competencies are not losers either. They made a decision to hire in a short time window believing they were acquiring an assured quality worker. The action of making a counter offer simply helps them to confirm this fact. It also acts as a “talent sourcing lead”.  In other words, there must be more than one qualified staff member working at the same company.

They now know more about your colleagues, plus more importantly, have had confirmed in their minds, right or wrong, that some workers are performing at higher levels but not being promoted nor being valued or paid correctly. It explains why a number of employees leave one company to join another, sometimes in groups and not just one at a time.

Workers know that because even though their colleague accepted a counter offer, they themselves are not likely to receive the same offer, nor get an interim salary uplift.

Not everyone who subsequently puts in their notice will receive a “counter offer”. Nor do they hope for one.

Many make it known they do not want the burden of additional productivity, the extra work outputs nor do they want to experience the changes in behaviour when staying on after a counter offer has been accepted . Instead, they realise that it may possibly lead to having a target placed upon your back.

Worse, accepting one could open the floodgates to a raid by the rejected employer.  They now know that a pool of quality potential employees exist, well trained, slightly underpaid and not regarded worthy or ready for promotion by their current employer.

This is why a “counter offer” requires special consideration by both sides.  It is used as and when required because fundamentally, if you are an employee, you are no more than a replaceable asset, leased by the company at a cost to generate a return over time.

How else do you explain it? It is also a reason why many large companies have existed for hundreds of years and people have come and gone.

5 Common Mistakes Made When Offered A New Job


Final Stage Job Hunt Final Candidate

You have successfully negotiated yourself through the interview stages.

Congratulations on being the last piece of the hiring jigsaw puzzle, just like the person in the picture, you have one more piece to place, to sign a contract offer.

It is an important step candidates often get wrong for a number of reasons, the offer is not signed and the efforts made are lost.

So what are the 5 common mistakes made when offered a new job?

From my own experiences they include:

  1. Using Bad or Wrong Salary Research

This starts with the original mind set at the start of the job search. I cannot tell you how many times I am told by job seekers, “salary is not important, it is the job and the work which matters to me.”

No thought has been given to pension contributions, the need to secure a new mortgage, or even to pay the mortgage if the interest rate rises by 1 or 2%.

It makes a recruiter wary of the candidate, yet we all know when times are desperate, job hunting rules and hopes for a good salary are affected, especially after redundancy or a company closure.

To be successful at salary negotiations, you need to know what you are worth, your financial minimum income and other life cost factors. This is especially important when relocation is involved, or if there is a need for private education or simply because of a change in tax jurisdiction.

One example relates to variances in France or Italy with Germany or Switzerland, some salary grades for the same role and experience can vary by as much as €30,000.00 in the same company.

Once you factor in cost of living, child and healthcare costs, and property tax or similar costs, you will discover that the great looking salary jump is not as large as you thought.

  • Try to dig deeper than the first link that comes up on a Yahoo or Google search.
  • Do not be afraid to request example salary slips from the future employer. I have done this more times than I remember.
  • Consider a conversation with your tax planner which may cost a small fee, yet in reality save you a small fortune.

The research and results may even prompt you to ask the future employer to increase their salary offer by 5-7%.

Typically employers offer 50-70% of the grade salary to avoid the upper quartile hiring band, your request for an uplift of 7% enables you to fit their salary matrix.

More importantly, you can still perform over 3 years and earn both the annual and performance related salary pay rise uplifts.

2. Playing Salary Games

You want how much I think not

Salary, grade, or total compensation are determined by company rules and often clear salary to grade banding limits.

You cannot empty the pockets of your future employer, so do not try.

Employers are not naive. They have recruited for similar positions before, or taken advisory salary advice if opening a new office. They may have even recruited from your company already, it is not uncommon. Do not get caught telling a lie or thinking the new employer cannot do without you because they can and do have options. Any good recruitment process always has a good fall-back second candidate.

Your current package information will have been discussed with the recruiter more than once. The stage has been set and package terms loosely agreed before your final interview.

Yet once or twice in your career, you do need to give the hiring manager a good “shake” because they tried to “low ball” you.

The “low ball” offer is one made below all expectations, or worse, even under your current or past earnings. It may come with a promise of future salary increases, commissions or a promotion.

The best advice is to quickly say “no thank you, we had previously discussed “x”. Did the recruiter not give you details regarding my current package at “Y”

This should result in a further round of negotiations. Yet a word of warning: keep good notes and do not agree to anything in the future without it being incorporated in the employment contract or as a side letter on company headed paper. As a new employee, you may need this to follow-up on the promise or to cover you in case the manager changes or leaves the company.

Sometimes, the result is “Take it or leave it”. it is rare and often the candidate walks away, feeling a little cheated or if they have to join, use the job whilst they find another in the next few months.

Being Too Rigid or Stubborn

An offer may not have the same terms as you have stated in your current employment contract or package.

People with old contracts which have changed little since the 90`s may lose benefits, yet they also know new employees at their own company would never be given the same terms.

The changes need to be reviewed and investigated. Why, I hear you ask?

There are pension provisions, a notice period on resignation and other clauses written and upheld which are beneficial for older employees.

They can also be a sticking point to joining a new company, a reason why I give them special mention together with the typical certain manufacturer types of car, extra travel benefits, healthcare and dedicated home office days.

It is becoming a trend to look beyond the basic salary and pension terms, to secure entry in to the new company at one’s best advantage.

You need to know what is really important, what is not something you would not negotiate on and why.

Too often a small point becomes a fixation, gaining more importance as the negotiations progress before becoming an escalated deal breaker.

There needs to be trade-offs or elements of compromise in any job.

A Good Example of Flexibility

One example of my own candidate placement experiences that can serve as an example is when a candidate was moving from a regional sales job to a global function with a lot of air travel.

The car on offer was a Mercedes, an improvement on his current BMW, yet it would also come with a high tax liability (driven only between the airport and home).

As the candidate had little interest in cars, we negotiated a €6,500.00 home office furniture allowance, renewable every 4 years in line with the car policy renewals. The candidate had to pay for his own rail fare to and from the airport.

The client was happy to lose a car cost and the new employee was excited by a company willing to think about those “other hours” he would work in his stylish office using his designer desk and chair.

It was a good example of both the company and candidate being flexible, yet if a car was important, the Mercedes may not have fitted the lifestyle choice so a private allowance lease deal could have been another option.

You simply need to know what is important to you, think like a football manager, use more than one tactic, explore options and still secure the desired result.

  1. Not Negotiating at All

It may seem odd, receiving an offer and immediately accepting it at face value. Candidates have and will enter into salary negotiations intending to bargain, only then to settle for the first offer that is thrown their way.

It is often the result of inexperience or discomfort with the hiring process. Sometimes it is the target-stated salary or employer name and yet it may still be a mistake.

It reveals itself later after joining the company, learning that other colleagues and their earnings or packages are of a higher value or contain better benefits.

This happens and like a small ember of discontent, it becomes a fire after 12 months often prompting someone to consider leaving their job or asking for a pay rise which is declined.

In rare cases it eats away at you as you adopt a “Mr or Mrs Negative” stance which further reduces your promotion or new job prospects.

  1. Taking Too Long

Delay Tactics Candidates Play For Time English RecruiterWhat can I say here? As a recruiter I have had to “drag out” the final moments before the issuing of an offer letter. It is not the fault of the candidate, so you will be told why we are in this situation.

It may simply be someone in HR forgot to re-apply for headcount hiring approval, the hire needed to be moved into another quarter, or the Board approval is delayed by a change of a meeting date.

From the candidate side, usually once an offer is made, all terms will have been discussed. Employers typically issue a time limit expecting a response electronically or by post within 3-7 days.

Best practice is to acknowledge receipt and talk to your recruiter, financial advisor or HR manager depending on your route to hire, highlighting any immediate concern. It means you have started the process, rather than  go silent on them, which is to be avoided.  Keep communication open.

You may also experience a “counter-offer” from your current employer when resigning. Do not worry. This is quite normal and if you are already discussing topics with your recruiter or HR manager, you will be positively regarded and supported if you communicate this.

Do not do, as one candidate in France did, claim to be away off travelling, then ill before walking in with two colleagues to give their employer an ultimatum, demanding to give the entire department a pay rise or “we’ll all leave”.

The future new boss was contacted by someone at the company concerned, who were former colleagues. He was seeking advice having been presented with this situation, a first in his managerial career.

The two of them shared notes. Remember up to now, no-one knew this stunt was to occur and a member of the management team at the current employer was calling the possible future boss, nothing illegal, just an industry related coincidence.

The offer for my candidate was withdrawn immediately after the telephone call. The hiring manager felt lied to and expressed concerns about the integrity of the person he was considering to hire.

The three were given their pay rise by their employer, sat smug thinking themselves a winner, the feeling lasted for 12 months.

HR later called and advised them of their redundancy, victims in the first round of a re-organisation having given their managers time to identify their successors in lower cost countries.

This is why communication and action is so important. A good recruiter or HR professional knows the red flags, the wobbly moments and the issues of having poor excuses to delay a decision.

To Summarise

You now know the common mistakes made when offered a new job, you understand how others think and your actions will make both your life and the life of any hiring manager or recruiter much easier.

Your research, preparation for a job move and understanding of where the 80% or so of the candidates make error of judgement helps you.

The more mistakes they make, the less work for you to do, and the better placed as a back-up candidate you become as a person with a good understanding of the recruitment process.

More importantly, your awareness demonstrates and shows that you are making a real career plan and not just participating in a job hunt.

Please feel free to comment or share to help others and good luck with your job hunting.



New Job Search Checklist

job huntingIt is important for any job seeker to demonstrate a solid understanding and knowledge of job search technologies and approaches.

The problem, technology moves forward every day, you may be a little out of date.

Time spent at the start reviewing your position and your tools will ensure you will do a good job search, in a planned organised professional way.

Hence the quick guide new job search checklist, to gently remind you of past activities and to give you some pointers.

What actions should be included:

  1. Use of an email address appropriate and acceptable for business use. Too many spam controls exist today which can create issues on application delivery or create the wrong impression. A common one is the use of one from college or University where the email address contains a date,  an age calculator. It could rule you out of a process so stay safe with a “Firstname.last name” format or similar.
  2. Consider the purchase of a separate SIM for your mobile telephone, or if happy using your phone, please ensure it stays charged and topped up with credit.
  3. Record a professional voicemail message (examples link), as you would do for work. It should include your name and an offer of a specific timeframe in which you will return the call. Candidates rarely make the call back step. It enables a recruiter or a hiring manager to confirm the right person is receiving their message and that they will have their call returned.
  4. Review your professional presence, user identities and consider adding your preferred social media public profile url for Xing, Viadeo or others. Look at Facebook, Twitter and other sites, clean them up, review public settings and delete what you would not like to show a proud grandmother or grandfather!
  5. Check your CV / Resume for errors, create different file formats (.pdf , .doc or .txt) and versions with and without your photograph. This will make your life easier because some company application management systems and job boards specify file version types.
  6. Pay for a one off purchase of Salesforce contact manager or use a free robust address and contact notes webmail system. A hosted system will save a pre-interview panic moment, enable you to check, log and reference activities without having to waste too much time.
  7. Decide on use of a personalised business card from a supplier such as Vistaprint or others. It does not need to be more than two colour ( black print on white) and detail your name and contact information, so should not cost too much.
  8. Review Skype, your mobile telephone and fixed line call charges and payment plans. You will need to make contact to hiring companies and recruiters. All services offer good terms for a small subscription fee. Skype has the added advantage that you can be video interviewed, just like a conference call or face to face meeting.
  9. Rehearse interview questions and answers, use Youtube and other resource, possibly even read the Q&A series on Englishrecruiter (or use the category select menu on the left of the page).
  10. Reflect on anything else you may need, it could be an inexpensive computer printer to produce printed copy Cvs, a headset for Skype, or some apps which may make your job search easier.
  11. This is up to you – Please do comment if you think can add something useful which could help others. The email address and log-in information is simply to prevent spam.


Interview Structure Time Management

Interview Q & AThe interview often consists of 4 stages and is weighted towards questions and answers as you would expect.

You need to practise yourself your questions and answers, hopefully with a partner who can check your responses and timing.

Typical interview structure for a 1 hour interview:
  1. 5–10%  – 3 to 6 minutes for meet, greet, small talk and introduction.
  2. 60 -70% – 36 to 42 minutes for interview questions and conversation.
  3. 15 – 20% – 9 to 12 minutes for you to ask your specific questions.
  4. 5–10%  – 3 to 6 minutes to summarise interview and advise follow-up steps.

The windows of time for you to effectively put your points across are not large, hence the suggestion to consider rehearsing some of your questions and responses to enable you to make the best use of the time you have.

The final step not listed relates to your need to send a thank you note to the interviewer, which to be honest you knew already and is why it was not included in the typical interview structure list.

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