A letter to all candidates facing counter-offers

By Luna Chan, Senior Consultant – HR and Administration, Links International Hong Kong

In our many years in recruitment in Asia, we have learnt that, during the job search process, it’s not uncommon for a candidate who has accepted a job offer to be presented with a counter-offer by their current employer and thus have second thoughts and choose to turn the external offer down.There are, however, many things to consider as to whether this is the right choice. I have chosen to write my blog post as a letter to all those candidates who are in this position, to ensure that you are making the best decision for yourselves and your careers.

Dear Christine*,

After the 1-hour conversation I had with you last night regarding your resignation from your current job, I would like to re-cap on a few things we discussed.

I understand this is a tough decision for you and that your boss would like you to stay, particularly now that the company is undergoing a restructuring process.

Here are some perspectives I would like to invite you to carefully consider:

Why you decided to leave in the first place

This decision is not one you are about to make, but one you made ALREADY when you told me you were looking for a change. You told me that the business was not doing badly but development was slow and prospects were limited. You also said you wanted to go back into a well-established financial institution with a friendly people culture for a better sense of belonging, as well as better development prospects for yourself in the long run. That is why I found you this job offer you have on hand that would provide exactly what you asked for.

If you stay with your current firm, will the reasons for leaving in the beginning be eliminated naturally? Are you sure you will not be looking again before long?

“It was bad timing to leave the firm and my boss.”

There will never be a “good” time to resign from a firm: your boss is always going to tell you that they need someone to help out on the current/upcoming projects; the firm is growing with a lot of potential; business is doing really well; you have a lot of potential; they are about to give you more responsibilities… there will always be all kinds of reasons for not resigning. They would never want to have you walk away from them.

If you overestimated your importance to them, you might have also underestimated how easy it would be for a firm to let go of someone later on (think about your senior management who left all of a sudden). If you don’t think about yourself, nobody else would.

“My boss was so kind to me. She offered me a salary increment right away.”

As many similar articles out there on counter-offering suggest, now that your employer knows of your intention of leaving, things will never be the same, no matter how “normal” it might seem on the surface.

You might think your loyalty is being proved by choosing to stay… indeed, your loyalty, from your boss’ perspective, was hindered right at the moment you let your employer know of your intention of leaving.

Yes, they need you at the moment, and they will be happy to keep you for as long as they want you to stay. Yet you are leaving yourself exposed and you will have no control when the situation changes later on.

Eventually, you might find yourself, either for the same reasons as before or different reasons later on, still needing to look for a new job, but by then you might not have so many options.

Think about the new environment, the friendly team and the new things to learn

I understand how difficult it might seem to tender your resignation. I can imagine the hard time you might need to go through to convince your boss that you really need to leave, while she tries to make you do the opposite… it is very easy to give up and stay in your comfort zone.

However, if you were to take a step back and look at the whole situation from a different perspective, you would see that the objective is not to lead you to a chaotic outcome, but a bright future to start afresh with a wonderful multinational financial institution and supportive teammates to work with.

You are a great candidate with a lot of potential and deserve to be recognised and given the chance to learn. This firm sees your potential and appreciates you as being the “Christine” that you are, and welcomes you to their family with open arms. While life is always full of surprises and risks, this opportunity might be something worth fighting for.

Dear Christine, forgive me as I am not going to show you any statistical evidence e.g. figures of employees accepting counter-offers who left the job eventually within one year, and so on. These figures are easily found online, so please go ahead if you’d like to do some research on your own. What matters to me the most is that you are making a rational choice that will not lead to any regrets later on.

The choice of giving up on trying to resign and staying in your comfort zone is obviously an easy, one-off action, but the consequences will be everlasting. The outcome will be entirely different given the decisions you make. Promise me to think carefully, and to always be true to your gut feelings. Don’t run away from your fears, and be confident enough to accept the new challenges you have secretly dreamed of.

No matter what decision you make at the end, you will always have my support and best wishes.

Best Regards,

Your Consultant, Luna

(*Please note that the name “Christine” and all other information involved in this article are fictitious and do not relate to any party in reality.)

If you’re thinking of making a career move and need some advice, Links International is here to help. Please get in touch with one of our consultants and we will help take your career to the next level.