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The unexpected counter offer

There's nothing quite like the lure of the sea and the warm feeling of soft sand between your toes to make you re-evaluate your 9 to 5.

Some well-earned time away from your inbox and ever shrinking desk space, often allows the much needed time to revisit your goals and ambitions. And more importantly, the head space to assess how your current job is measuring up against them.

It's no surprise therefore that a large number of us return to the office with not only a half decent tan, but also a firm exit plan. And within 2-3 months of returning from your summer hols, you find yourself stood in front of your manager clasping a letter of resignation.

Plucking up the courage to resign
Within hours of giving in your notice you'll have been quizzed on where you're going, what you'll be doing and what they've offered you in the way of salary and benefits. And you'll share all of this with them willingly, feeling rather chuffed with what you've secured, until you walk in the next morning to...the counter offer!

What's a counter offer?
A counter offer is a revised offer from the company you're currently with in an effort to make you stay. It might be a straight forward like-for-like match on the new salary (and possibly benefits) you've been offered. Or it might be an impressive salary hike.

Whether you're surprised, flattered, or insulted by it, it's bound to leave you a bit confused. But you needn't be. You're now in a very powerful position, so use the time you do have to think things through carefully before deciding what to do.

Here are five questions you might want to ask yourself before you make that all important decision:

1. What is it that made you look for a new role in the first place?
Cast your mind back to what it was that made you start looking for a new role.
Maybe you made a list of the things you didn't feel you could achieve in your current role and were looking for in a new position. How (if at all) does the counter offer change this? And if promises have been made in addition to a change to your package, how realistic is it the company you work for will deliver on what they've promised?
Remember: Good people are hard to find. And no manager wants to go through the rigmarole or cost of advertising, interviewing and on-boarding a new employee. But can your current employer really offer you what they've promised in the way of opportunities to develop you of help you achieve your career goals? Or are they simply desperate to keep you.

2. Does more money make it right?
If money was the overriding decision for wanting to move on does the new amount offered reflect what you think you're worth? And why has it taken an offer from another company for your current employer to agree to pay you that?
Also will your current employer expect more of you in exchange for the revised salary, and are you prepared to put the extra work in to warrant it?
Remember: If you genuinely feel you're being underpaid for what you do, joining a new company can be the best thing, and a great strategic move in terms of increasing your salary both now and in the long run.

3. Are you comfortable staying with a company after the revelation of handing in your notice?
It can be incredibly flattering to receive a counter offer. It's affirmation after all that your current employer would like you to stay. But how has you resigning affected the dynamic between you and your manager? And how will this impact on your work?
Remember: A bit like a unfaithful partner, it's only natural a manager might find it hard to trust an employee who has already taken steps to leave the business. It could be that you find yourself under a watchful eye for a while, as your manager strives to keep you happy and avoid you looking elsewhere.

4. Do you see yourself with the same company for the foreseeable future?
Having taken the step of applying for new roles, interviewing and fending off stiff competition to secure an offer, do you really see yourself staying where you currently are for the next 1-3 years?
Remember: If you see yourself staying with a company for the foreseeable future and you're happy the counter offer covers everything you felt was missing, great.
But more than 60% of UK employees leave within the first six months of accepting a counter offer to stay, as the same things that made them want to leave in the first place begin to resurface.

5. Fear of the unknown?
We're all creatures of habit. It's natural to fear the unknown. And it's often easiest to stay put.
Are you taking the easy route and staying with what you know? Well, only you answer that one. And in the great words of Frasier - "In the end, what we regret most, are the chances we never took".

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