Counter Offer Chaos

  • Date posted: 20 May 2014
  • Tags:

I’ve worked in recruitment for more than 15 years. I have been Consultant, Manager, Director, Managing Director and Agency Owner in that time and have been involved in literally 1000’s of offer, resignation and counter offer scenarios.

We all know the usual statistics about candidates that accept counter offers. We all know how few of them stay put. So it’s pretty surprising how many Recruiters themselves get caught up in the very scenario they coach their own candidates against!

I’ve asked myself why this happens many times since leading a Rec2Rec agency and I think I have finally got to the point where I know when it is going to happen, who is going to be vulnerable to it and how to avoid a Recruiter making a big mistake. (I’ve also learnt that no matter I do – sometimes it’s going to happen no matter what).

I have watched and monitored every single offer scenario we have managed since inception and there is without doubt a common theme that is shared by all of our candidates that get counter-offered and then become confused about what to do. So if you are about to resign from your current role in recruitment, please read this and avoid losing a great opportunity during the counter offer process.

Why resign in the first place?

Just to bust a myth here, Recruiter’s rarely leave because of money! It looks like it’s about money but it’s not…instead, in the majority of cases, it’s about a broken down relationship between a Recruiter (any level) and their Direct Line Manager. Nearly 92% of the people that come to us are trying to change the way they are managed – sometimes it’s personal sometimes it’s not, but it’s nearly always about the way their Manager treats them or the management style of the firm.

In many cases, the Recruiters that approach us feel frustrated, demotivated, under-valued and misunderstood. They are not looking for a counter-offer, they simply want their life to change and quite often there is a deep level of disappointment as a result of how they have been treated; as well as a real sense of disbelief as to why their Manager doesn’t value them as they should.

If this sounds like you then be careful! You could be about to resign and be counter offered and you will find it harder than most other Recruiters. Why? Because finally, your boss will give you that 1-2-1 time you need, you will finally hear that positive feedback you have wanted to hear for so long, you finally feel valued and wanted - and it is all incredibly seductive.


Under a sudden barrage of emotional pleas, flattery and coaching against your new offer you are at risk of forgetting why you wanted to leave in the first place - especially if your boss or other management team member are a good "Hostage Negotiator" - because let's face it - you have just taken your boss hostage, in their minds at least! You're leaving and their fee line is at risk - you effectively have a gun to their head and they will do anything to talk you out of it.

If you’re not careful you will forget that people rarely change and that if you don’t like your boss now you won’t like them next month either. You will temporarily forget how horrible you have been feeling…. And like a victim of an abusive partner, you are at risk of falling for the promises to change, the pleas to forgive and give them another chance. They will slowly but surely try to make you doubt yourself and in that moment they will come at you with a counter offer.

Why is it a mistake to accept a counter-offer?

Because the counter is not about YOU! It’s about THEM! The counter offer is never about the individual - it’s about the situation. Your boss does not need the headache of another desk to fill. They really don’t need a drop in their staff retention figures. They definitely don’t need a loss of bonuses due to a loss of fee income or indeed the extra workload of managing your desk and recruiting another staff member

  • So if you are a Recruiter about to resign: be warned!
  • Yes, they will flatter you
  • Yes they will make you feel good
  • Yes they will give you a counter offer to make you stay….FOR NOW.
  • And if you do accept a counter is only FOR NOW, because I can assure you this relationship is now over.
  • Your boss no longer trusts you. Your boss won’t change and the minute you reject your lovely new offer you will regret it. Why will you regret accepting a counter offer?
  • Because literally from day 1 you will have one eye on the door wondering what could have been.
  • Because your boss now doesn’t trust you and will be following your every move, email and call.
  • Because you will slowly realise that your boss hasn’t changed.
  • Because you will see (almost immediately) that your business is moved or changed in some way to accommodate your back-up replacement. Sometimes this will be disguised as having a Trainee to Manage, but what your Boss is really doing is getting you to train your replacement.
  • Because guess what? They know it’s only a matter of time now too – but guess what – now it’s on their terms.
  • No boss likes getting fired.

So before you even start to consider a counter offer:

  • Sit down and write a list of the original reasons for you wanting to leave
  • Score them on a scale of 1-10 for how miserable they were making you
  • Now write a list of the reasons why you want to accept your new role
  • Score them on a scale of 1-10 for how happy each element will make you
  • Now look at your counter offer. How many of the reasons to leave are you actually really confident will change? How valuable are they to you?
  • To accept a counter offer you need to be 100% confident that your boss is going to keep their word and that you won’t regret losing your original offer


Facts we have gathered over the last 3 years of placing recruitment professionals:

  • 75% of recruiters that resign will be counter offered
  • Over 90% of recruiters that accept a counter offer are no longer with the company 6 months later
  • 50% of candidates that accept counter offers are active again within 60 days
  • It costs an agency an average of £32,000 when they lose a fee billing consultant through loss of fee income and time and money spent on replacing you. Suddenly a 6K pay rise doesn’t seem so big does it?


Sign up for job alerts

About Recruiter Republic

Find out who we are and what makes us the UKs only award winning Rec2Rec 

Read More