Resignation and counter-offer advice
Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated your way through a complex interview and assessment process, and been offered the job. All that's left is to resign. If you stay in control, it should be straightforward, however, it can get complicated.
You will need to put your resignation in writing. When considering what to write it's best to keep it short. There is no need to add any explanations regarding your decision, and it's definitely not the appropriate place to get things off your chest, even in the most professional manner. When you're constructing the letter, ensure that what you say is applicable to your contract terms. Apply the provisions to stipulate the correct end date, you can then adjust this with the mutual agreement of your employer at a later date. Most resignation letters are just two or three sentences long.
Hand it over
Invite the appropriate manager to a meeting, or ask to see them. Upon arriving explain that you would like to resign. Don't leave the letter for someone to find, or hand the letter in, turn tail and run. You need confirmation that your resignation has been accepted.
Your letter will be retained by your current employer. Don't be surprised if you are asked to re-write or amend should it contains any errors or inappropriate comments, it's not an uncommon occurrence.
We advise you to expect a counter offer, they are becoming increasingly more common as talent becomes scarce. If you Google it, or speak to most recruitment consultants, in general, you'll find just 3 considerations highlighted when considering a counter offer. We include all 3 of them in this advice guide but they shouldn't be the sole focus of your decision making process. Our position on counter offers is straightforward, give it the full consideration and due-diligence it deserves.
To understand the counter offer process firstly put yourself in your current employer’s place and ask why a counter offer has been proposed? Firstly, your company might really like you, and the smaller the organisation the more possible it is that this could be the main motivation. You might be good to have around, a hugely positive influence on the organisation, and other employees, and to turn up for work without you there, that could be tough on those that remain.
Then, further to your popularity, is the economic equation. Searching for and training a new employee is very costly and takes time. The more specialised your skill set the more likely this could be the case. Management and leadership are tough and time-consuming, and although any sensible organisation should be pre-emptively applying performance management, pay reviews and setting career development aspirations, the reality is that many only have the resources to react.
A lot of companies do realise that they have deficiencies in management training and career planning, and they make a counter offer with the genuine suggestion that this person deserves it. Having already built up equity with your employer and developed relationships, a counter offer can bring renewed interest, increased satisfaction and new potential, all in a known environment. This has a huge value, especially if job security is critical to your family needs.
However it's important that the counter offer extends beyond pure financial reward and that everything is quickly and accurately put into writing. This includes having your job description updated. Verbal promises are difficult to refer back to.
The 2 obvious but important questions
With any counter offer, predicting the future is notoriously difficult but it would be well worth a proportion of your time considering the potential answers to these 2 question. These are 2 of the 3 questions that everyone suggests you ask yourself.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO LEAVE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
The number 1 reason people look to leave a role, as cited in a survey of exit interview answers, is "better job opportunity". The number 1 reason people decided to change jobs, according to an anonymous survey, is "higher salary and better benefits". You need to be very honest with yourself as to your motivation for changing roles.
Whilst researching this article, a constantly quoted statistic (that cannot be accurately traced to an original source), says that, "more than half of employees who accept a counter offer, still change organisations within 6 months". It's believable, if not actually proven. Even if it's not a fact, take the suggestion that it would be best to keep your focus on career development and personal fulfilment, rather than any material enticement.
IS YOUR FUTURE COMPROMISED?
It's unlikely that your conduct will be considered unprofessional but there is a chance your managers and/or colleagues will look at you in a different light from this point forward. How exactly, is very circumstantial. The volume of equity you've built up plays a large part in answering this question, as does the mind-set of those around you, the culture of the business and who actually made the decision to counter offer.
A boss who personalises your desire to resign could potentially impede your career. You will need to restate and prove your loyalty and commitment, so don't be unsurprised if you're overlooked for a short while. Perhaps this is where the, "people still leave within 6 months" comes from, an unexpected need to demonstrate your dedication before what you were counter offered with is actually approved.
The question you probably don't need to answer
WOULD THE INCENTIVES HAVE BEEN OFFERED IF YOU HADN'T RESIGNED?
It's the final question on all the other resignation advice guides, because most recruitment consultants, who have a vested interest in ensuring you start work with their client, want a little shock and horror. Really, it took your resignation to action the pay rise and recognise your talent, how scandalous! Our agreement with the client is about finding a person for the long haul, so the very worst thing for us would be for you to start in the wrong role and leave. Your current employer loses, your new employer loses, we lose and you might lose.
Making a counter offer is a logical choice in today's market and now actively advised. The expense of hiring, combined with the cost of having an empty position means it can work out cheaper to increase a single person's salary by as much as 25%. However the practice of making counter offers is traditionally frowned upon, especially within the human resources department. It has institutional ramifications and is rarely as simple as increasing a single persons salary with no additional monetary or cultural cost.
It is extremely rare in the UK that a company only makes a counter offer with the intention of keeping a person on until a replacement can be found. Therefore the why now is easy to answer. They like you, you know the job you’re doing, replacing you is expensive and takes a long time.
No easy answers
If the counter offer is more money to do the same thing you've been doing for a while, all the evidence suggests leave. If you're being offered significant, tangible change, that they've detailed coherently, in a written counter offer, think very seriously about what you want to do.
- Expect a counter offer, especially if you have a specialist skill set
- Don't be afraid of discussing the counter offer with us
- Get all elements of the offer and commitments in writing before accepting
- Don't accept changes if historical evidence suggests the track record of implementing promises is weak
- Verify the training on offer is approved to begin immediately
- Avoid including emotional elements in your decision-making
- Where you can, make a fair comparison between your current employer and the new opportunity
- Ensure the offer extends beyond pay to include career progression and ideally a completely new role
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