Should You Accept a Counter Offer? Probably Not.

by Modis on March 7, 2018

Career changes are tough enough as it is, and anxieties about leaving a comfortable job, friends and location and having to reprove yourself again in an unknown opportunity can cloud the best logic. But just because the new position is a little scary doesn’t mean it’s not a positive move. Since counter offers can create confusion and buyer’s remorse, you should understand what’s being cast upon you.

Counter offers are typically made as some form of flattery, such as:

  • “You’re too valuable. We need you.”
  • “You can’t desert the team/your friends and leave them hanging.”
  • “We were just about to give you a promotion/raise, and it was confidential until now.”
  • “What did they offer? Why are you leaving? What do you need in order to stay?”
  • “Why would you want to work for that company?”
  • “The President/CEO wants to meet with you before you make your final decision.”
  • Disparaging remarks about the new company or job

Counter offers usually take the form of more money:

    • A promotion/more responsibility
    • A modified reporting structure
    • Promises or future considerations
    • Disparaging remarks about the new company or job
    • Guilt trips

Of course, since we all prefer to think we’re #1, it’s natural to want to believe these manipulative appeals, but beware! Accepting a counter offer is often the wrong choice. Think about it; If you were worth “X” yesterday, why are they suddenly willing to pay you “X + n” today, when you weren’t expecting a raise any time soon?Also consider how you’ve felt when someone resigned from your staff. The reality is that employers don’t like to be “fired”. Your boss is likely concerned that he’ll look bad and his career may suffer. Bosses are judged, in part, by their ability to retain staff. Your leaving may jeopardize an important project, increase workload for others or even foul up vacation schedules. It’s never a good time for someone to quit. It may prove to be time consuming and costly to replace you. It’s much cheaper to keep you, even at a slightly higher salary. And it would be better to fire you later, in the company’s time frame.

Accepting a counter offer can have many negative consequences. Consider:

Where did the additional money or responsibility you’d get come from? Was it your next raise or promotion – just given early? Will you be limited in the future? Will you have to threaten to quit in order to get your next raise? Might a cheaper replacement be sought out?

You’ve demonstrated your unhappiness or lack of blind loyalty, and may be perceived as having committed blackmail to gain a raise. You may not ever be considered a team player again. Many employers will hold a grudge at the next review period, and you may be placed at the top of the next reduction-in-force “hit list”.

Apart from a short-term, band-aid treatment, nothing will change within the company. After the dust settles from this upheaval, you’ll be in the same old rut. A rule of thumb among recruiters is that more than 80% of those who accept counter offers leave, or are terminated, within six to 12 months. And half of those who accept counter offers reinitiate their job searches within 90 days.

Finally, when you make your decision, look at your current job and the new position as if you were unemployed. Which opportunity holds the most real potential? Probably the new one-or you wouldn’t have accepted it in the first place.


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