While working with legal professionals looking for a new job, compensation is naturally one of the primary topics we discuss. Unless you are lucky enough to be employed by a Big AmLaw firm with a stair-step salary scale, it is essential that you do your homework and have all the facts before accepting an offer – or a counteroffer is made.
Perhaps the employer “hit you with their best shot” while putting significant thought and consideration into your offer. One of the advantages of working with a recruiter is that they can provide clients with insight about allowing for “wiggle room” in the budget, along with the need to offer more perks such as additional equity or a coveted corner office. Before accepting any job counteroffer that could potentially be perceived as an insult, it’s vitally important to know these facts first.
An underlying issue isn’t resolved by a counteroffer.
Maybe you started looking for a new job because you felt underpaid and/or underappreciated. Perhaps you were recently passed over for a promotion or weren’t given the chance to progress. If you voiced those concerns to your present employer but they fell upon “deaf ears,” those issues will probably linger even after accepting a counteroffer.
Worse yet, you could be viewed as expendable and may even be asked to resign. After all, your current employer may have only given you a counteroffer to buy enough time to find an equally qualified replacement.
Loyalty may be questioned after a counteroffer.
Piggybacking on the last point, research would seem to indicate that one’s job security diminishes significantly after accepting a counteroffer. If your firm or company needs to make cutbacks, don’t be surprised if your name appears at the top of the “chopping block” list. That’s because you already expressed a desire to leave and – as a result – are now perceived as being disloyal to the company and less committed to the job versus your peers.
A reputable recruiter can provide insight on how to get a counteroffer and then resign gracefully, so you don’t “burn any bridges” and permanently damage employer relationships along the way. Using work time to evaluate a counteroffer via email or letter is not only unprofessional, but your boss could also find out about it and decide to terminate you on the spot.
It will not guarantee job satisfaction.
Knowing how to effectively assess counteroffers requires the ability to consider other factors that may supersede base compensation. What’s the firm’s bonus history? Is the bonus guaranteed, discretionary, or performance-based? What are the billable hour requirements and are they achievable while maintaining a healthy work/life balance? Does the firm or company’s culture align with your morals, values, and beliefs?
Less than 15 years ago, most firms paid 100% of the employee’s healthcare premium portion. Sadly, those days are long gone. Although it’s not always a significant amount, many firms now require their employees to contribute 10% to 30% of their earnings towards their insurance premium.
Paid parking or transportation stipends can differ by hundreds of dollars while 401k match amounts or contributions also vary. Paid time off (PTO) is yet another perk that’s hard to negotiate, especially for non-attorney staff.
Furthermore, we’ve had little success over the years negotiating additional vacation – even in exchange for the potential hire accepting less compensation. In general, most firms want to avoid the HR nightmare of having a new hire with more PTO than tenured employees.
What about geographic differences?
While helping countless job seekers relocate from the tech-rich Bay area to Texas (especially Austin) – along with those from NYC, Seattle, and other cities with a higher cost of living and salaries to match – we typically have the “Texas salary adjustment” chat with them.
The conversation usually starts with, “I’m making X in Palo Alto or San Jose. What can I expect to earn in Dallas?” The answer is “probably less,” but not always significantly less. Comparing geographic differences such as cost of living, state taxes, and other quality-of-life factors often levels the compensation “playing field” more than one might expect.
Bottom line: Job satisfaction should always be one of the main reasons to accept or decline a counteroffer.
It may be a long time before you get another raise.
As a somewhat useful source, salary guides offer broad strokes and typically give you a ballpark figure. Industry related compensation reports like those from PayScale, Randstad, Robert Half, and others may also offer some insight into general salary trends.
But it’s essential to also remember that your past job performance and perceived market value should be a factor in negotiating salary terms. After all, it may be several years before you receive another pay raise when your overall compensation package is based on performance. A good headhunter can help you negotiate a higher initial salary and other compensation terms, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Counteroffers can be a stall tactic.
You’ve often heard the saying, “timing is everything.” As a common stall tactic in the placement “chess match,” a counteroffer can work both ways during the negotiation phase. In some instances – and without your knowledge – an employer could be using the negotiation process to delay hiring you while waiting for a response from another candidate.
On the other hand, experienced recruiters understand the placement process, along with the stall tactics that employers use. In addition to helping you hone your interview skills, they will communicate openly and keep you updated about your employment chances as the hiring process plays out – all while increasing your odds of landing that dream job you’ve always wanted!
Consult “those in the know” before accepting any job offer.
Whether seeking information for your current job or you are interested in pursuing a new one, it’s essential to contact an experienced legal recruiter for assistance and guidance. With offices strategically located in Dallas, Houston, and Austin, Momentum Search Partners is comprised of five legal headhunters with over 100 years of combined legal experience. Read our blog and follow us on LinkedIn to stay informed about topics like the latest industry news, state of the Texas economy, job search and interview advice, legal jobs in Texas, and more.