Should I be flattered by a counter-offer from my tax partner ?
What is a counter-offer ?
When you resign from your job it is pretty likely that your boss or other partners will attempt to persuade you to change your mind. This can take many forms: A pay rise, reduced working hours or a promotion are the most common. This process is called a "counter-offer" or “buy-back”. It happens in law firms, accountancy firms and industry, but is most prevalent in fee-earning environments.
Who is susceptible ?
In short, anyone. The tax market is under-resourced at present – firms and corporates are hiring extensively and there is a dearth of qualified professionals. If you resign and have to work out a notice period (whether it is 2 weeks or 3 months) then it is almost certain that your employer will not find a replacement for you before you leave. As a result counter-offers are not exclusive to senior tax professionals. They are just as common amongst tax assistants and seniors who perform compliance work.
Should I feel flattered ?
Tax Partners are capable of charming you – let’s face it, the tax services market is all about sales, so in this day and age a tax partner should be able to do a pretty good job convincing you to turn down an offer from a competitor and stick with him/her. Also, many partners are specifically trained in handling resignations and have a checklist of strategies to change your mind. They are running a business and if you leave you affect their bottom line. For them (however pleasant and honourable their intentions) buying you back is a commercial decision, not a personal one.
What can I expect ?
– to be sworn to secrecy in the short term until your boss has time to put together a counter-offer.
– lots of praise and reassurance about how great you are.
– an explanation of how vital you are to the team and how you are needed.
– the promise of a swift career path with lots of interesting projects.
– an attempt to match or improve the offer you have received.
– lots of charm, flattery and smiles.
– an attempt to make you feel guilt for proposing to leave the team/your partner.
– a reminder of the time and effort that has been put into your career and training.
– some horror stories about staff who resigned, left and came running back a month later.
– promises to address your concerns with your current role.
– lots of meetings with different partners and senior staff and a conscious attempt to wear you down.
– lots of verbal promises, but rarely anything in writing.
If you do not alter your decision you may experience sulks, threats and even hostility. Some partners take a resignation as a personal affront to their own abilities to manage staff and react accordingly.
How should I act ?
– As a matter of courtesy it is difficult to avoid at least listening to a counter-offer, so there is no point trying to avoid this meeting.
– Keep the conversation polite, amicable and professional. If expressing your concerns about your current role, don’t be tempted to get too detailed or personal as this will only draw out discussions.
– Stay strong. If you want to leave and start the new job then do not offer your boss any hope of keeping you. If he/she sees a chink in the armour they will work on it mercilessly and you will end up having many meetings that are emotionally exhausting and ultimately unnecessary.
– If you are asked to meet with other partners or HR, or have lunch with a senior partner, you should politely say that there is no point. Flattered though you are that the Firm wishes you to stay, further meetings/lunches would be a waste of everyone’s valuable time.
What else should I consider ?
– Bear in mind that the organisation that has offered you a job will want to know that the resignation is going through. They will probably expect a buy-back and it would be a good idea to call them once you have resigned, explain that you are receiving pressure to stay but reassure them that you still intend to leave.
– If your new offer has been arranged by a recruiter or headhunter, keep in touch with them and explain what is going on – they might be able to give you some tips and keep you positive (it can be a depressing and draining experience going through a counter-offer, especially if it lasts a few weeks).
– In my experience, 80% of candidates who are persuaded by their employer to stay put and turn down an offer, end up back on the market within 12 months. This tends to be because the same frustrations exist, or verbal promises about changes to work/pay/hours are broken.
– Should I worry if I am not bought back ? Tough one. In this current market then, yes, maybe you should be concerned if your boss just shakes your hand and shows you the door. Still, there is nothing you can do about this so just be positive about the next job.
This article was written by Chris Bale, Founder of etaxjobs
You can connect to Chris here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/etaxjobs