Digital Media Career Tip: Counteroffers

  • Posted by Steve Goldberg
  • |
  • May 14, 2010

Media Careers’ version of the “Love-Hate” Relationship

As successful digital media sales recruiters and recruiters of digital marketing, ad ops, and other media-related jobs, we have had to advise candidates and clients alike on the “dreaded” counteroffer scenario.   “Dreaded” of course from the recruiting perspective, but does it have implications for the candidate’s career?  I say it does.

For those in contingency recruitment, the fee is lost in the event of a candidate’s acceptance of the counteroffer.  But that is just one fee and executive recruiters move on.  By the way, let me know if you think of a way recruiters can get paid for effectively getting a person a raise at their current job and I’ll take you out to lunch the first time I collect.

The counteroffer scenario is like eating tainted seafood at a top restaurant – it tastes great but comes back to haunt you.  I don’t know the official statistics, but in an article I read a few years ago, the author (an executive recruiter himself) noted that 95% of his candidates who accepted a counter offer were replaced in less than 1 year of the event or their career had reached its peak.

I view the counteroffer acceptance as a dangerous game.  Why?

  • A message is sent to your company that you have not been happy and not letting them know, and that basically you are not a loyal employee.  You will have to be watched.
  • You burn a bridge with the company you rejected.  If you have been through an interview process far enough to get an offer, that company has invested a lot of time and energy with you and they’ve weeded out and said “no” to other possible candidates in order to make you the offer.
  • Accepting an offer only to then rescind it due to a counter offer gives the impression of a lack of character.
  • Recruiters move on…but they remember.

If you have a doubt, resolve the doubt before you get to that final offer stage.  If the offer is too low or the job changes at the 11th hour, not accepting an offer is perfectly understandable.  But once you say “I do”, the state of the discussion transforms from “what if” to “I commit”.

We live in a digital age and the hunt for top talent is always intense.  But for me, the qualities of character, commitment, respect and integrity do not change.  I found an article a while ago which provides further illumination on the subject.