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Counter-offers: Is all fair in love and war?

18 May 2015 by Sarah Leembruggen.
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So you’ve finally secured that PR role you’ve been chasing with the competition. You’ve jumped through every recruitment hoop and landed with a pay rise and a sense of elation. But stop. Before striding into the office to resign think through your reasons for leaving and how you might react to a counter-offer.

The competition for talent is hotting up as PR emerges from recession faster than many other sectors, and so it’s no surprise that counter-offers are on the increase. At the end of last year it was mainly legal communications teams that were going head-to-head for the best candidates. But with more private sector agencies winning business, counter-offers are moving across the board to include corporate PR, particularly the financial services sector. We’re even seeing bidding wars between three or four employers, all keen to secure the best hire. One agency candidate even doubled their salary whilst eventually staying with the original employer. That may be exceptional, but it’s been our candidates’ recent experience that significant pay hikes are a factor again.

It’s great for your ego to be so in demand, but proceed with caution. National surveys of employees consistently show that 50 to 80% of those who accept counter-offers leave their employer within six months, largely because of un-kept promises. Salary is often at the centre of these negotiations but as the figures rise, remember all your reasons for wanting to move on. As Sarah Leembruggen, Managing Partner at The Works commented, “Once in a blue moon a candidate decides to stay with their current employer but I can pretty much guarantee that they will be on the phone within six months, wanting to start their search again.”

Ask yourself why your company is only willing to demonstrate its appreciation of you now. Are you genuinely seen as a valued member of the team or is it a stalling tactic to avoid the short-term inconvenience of your imminent departure?

And think of the long-term consequences if you decide to stay. Would you be seen as disloyal or resented by the boss who felt backed into a corner?  Could it affect your promotion prospects or your position in the face of redundancies? After all, you did almost leave.

PR’s a small world and reputations are easily sullied, so take your time and don’t burn your bridges. You want to preserve your reputation at your current company and your prospective employer, so before accepting a new position and handing in your resignation, be sure that the new role ticks all your boxes. If you do accept the job and go to resign, prepare to anticipate your boss’s reaction to ensure you can leave on good terms.

Whatever decision you come to, when negotiating a counter-offer stay positive, act decisively and in a timely manner so everyone’s still smiling at the end of it.

The Works specialises in placing high flyers in PR and corporate communications. We have a strong track record of placing with professional services and offer career-making advice. Do get in touch if you would like our support building your team.

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