I had barely sat down at my desk, when the phone rang. “Warwick… help, get me out of here!” I thought I recognised the voice, but waited for his confirmation, “It’s Brendon here. You remember, we spoke six weeks ago when you approached me about a Supply Chain Director role.” I did remember and allowed Brendon to continue. “We met for interview and then you shortlisted me for your client.” Brendon had subsequently withdrawn his application. “I pulled out because my boss painted such a rosy new picture for my future here and convinced me to stay…”
“Now 6 weeks later I’m reaching out to you for help. You were right, all the promises are evaporating and I’m just miserable – I really should have taken your advice. Do you have anything else like the role we spoke about?”
My counter-offer advice to Brendon at the time is well-known amongst our industry and inevitably proves itself right, time and time again… but candidates occasionally elect not to follow it.
Counter-offers most often end badly. Many people who look to move on from an organisation do so for all the right reasons, and sometimes unfortunately stay for all the wrong reasons, with most resigning again within less than 12 months. In some cases, resignations do set the scene for a good honest productive discussion between employees and employers, particularly if there are straightforward issues that can easily be addressed to ensure better working conditions.
When I took Brendon’s call, I was in the middle of processing conversations I’d just had at another valued client meeting. Present were the CEO, the CFO who I placed four years ago (still doing a great job), the new Head of HR and one of his HR Business Partners. With an increasing need to retain high performers, as well as attract better quality hires in a very competitive sector, the company had recently held onto two staff members with counter-offers. They promised improved role functions with commensurate salary increases to avert two vacancies. Early in, the two team members were re-engaged, but only because there was real structural change and intent to provide a better career track.
What should Brendon have done? Without going into detail, Forbes reports career experts generally say you should never accept a counter-offer. You should probably never make one either, but that’s a story for another time. In Brendon’s case the job market has now moved on. I of course I will help him the best I can… and most likely my client, as their counter-offers lose their shine just as quickly.
What is your experience with counter-offers?