Candidate Resources

Beware of counter offers…

Legal recruitment advice

Having thought long and hard about your career you have decided your current firm/company isn’t the right place for you and that it is time to leave your current job. You have put a great CV together, gone through multiple interviews and have just accepted a great new job. You go to resign when your boss gives you an amazing offer, something you never thought they could offer you. But beware the counter offer, while sometimes they work out there are many reasons why they often aren’t the best thing for you or your employer. We have listed some of the key things to think about when considering a counter offer such as negotiating salaries, drafting CVs, interview tips and tricks and of course, changing jobs.

  1. What were your reasons for deciding to find a new job in the first place? For most people a salary increase is not the reason (and should never be the primary reason) for a job move. That being the case, how is the counter offer addressing the very concerns in your current role that motivated you to start looking for a new job? If it is merely salary this is not a good reason to stay. If you were generally happy in your current job but looking for a new role because you felt there were things that your current employer simply couldn’t provide then how has the counter offer changed things? If your current employer is able to genuinely address these concerns and change things then it could be a counter offer worth considering. However, while you may get promoted or a pay increase or a change in your job description, more than likely the things that made you decide to move on will not change. Be they the team culture, the type of work, dysfunctional work practices – these things are very hard to change within an organisation. Think very carefully about this.
  2. You need to consider with why it has taken you resigning for things to change. You should not have had to resign for things to change. It may be reflective of a “knee-jerk” reaction from your boss to keep you but is that indicative of poor management. If so, will that just happen again in the future? If your promotion is not purely on merit but out of desperation to keep you then how many others in the organisation have received the same? These may be indicative of a dysfunctional culture that is not the best place long term for you.
  3. Think selfishly. Do not feel guilt about leaving your current employer or colleagues, or that you owe something to your current employer. Think about what the best thing is for your career.
  4. How will your colleagues perceive you? This is a particularly important one where you are promoted or will be managing people. Will you still have the respect of your colleagues (or staff) who know you were only promoted because you resigned and had a proverbial gun to your boss’s head?
  5. Your trust will now be in question. How will the work environment change for you after resignation? Will it still be the same as it was? If the work environment was a big driver for staying this is an important consideration.
  6. Is the counter offer just more carrot dangling? If your main reason for moving was lack of promotion or changing goal posts on what was required for promotion you need to have clear criteria, in writing ideally, of what is required to be promoted to ensure it is not just an exercise in carrot dangling.

In some situations a counter offer can be the best thing for you, but those situations are rare. Do not be rushed into any decision, weigh up your options and assess each offer against the list of things you were looking for in your new job (promotion opportunity, a supervisor with a better management style, mentoring/training, a better company culture, the type of work, moving toward your ultimate career goal). Chances are you accepted the new job for good reason and most of the time the reasons you were looking to move on in the first place are actually not able to be changed!


At Peppercorn Recruitment, our Partners are both former lawyers and have a combined two decades of legal recruitment experience. We have provided frank, honest and pragmatic advice to many lawyers over their careers on matters such as negotiating salaries, drafting CVs, interview tips and tricks and of course, changing jobs.

We hope you find this a useful point of reference in your career planning, but should you wish to have a confidential discussion about how we can help, please contact either Peter or Ross on 07 3031 3625. We’re happy to help!