Counter Offers – Should you or should you not?

//Counter Offers – Should you or should you not?

Should you accept a counter offer?

We recommend you carefully consider not accepting for these reasons:

Companies present counter offers to keep their intellectual property from walking out the door. This is about THEM, not you. It’s considered by most employment authorities to be “Career Suicide“.

Did you know in a survey done by the Wall Street Journal, 93 percent of those accepting counter offers had left, some voluntarily and some fired within 18 months and the remaining 7 percent were actively seeking new employment. All in all, the reasons the employee had for searching for new employment in the first place do not go away just because they accept a counteroffer.

It Gets Worse!
If you decide to accept that counteroffer and stay with your present employer, being fired within the next six, twelve or 18 months isn’t even the worst thing that can happen. You’ll most likely be considered disloyal, untrustworthy, and regarded with suspicion by your current employer. No new sexy or confidential projects for you, you can’t be trusted! It’s continues to get worse since the company you accepted the new job with now considers you someone with an integrity problem. You gave your word and accepted, but did not keep it!

Let’s face the fact that employers don’t like to be “fired.” Your boss may take your resignation personally. Or your boss might throw a guilt trip your way, questioning your loyalty and wondering aloud, “how you could do this to him.” Keep in mind what your boss is really thinking: “If I lose this person I’ll have to pick up his slack until a new person is found and trained – which could take weeks or months!” So bumping your salary is an easy way to buy your boss time to plot your replacement. (Ever talked to a recruiter that is working on a “Confidential” replacement search. The position to be filled is currently held by a person who does not know they are being replaced? Sound familiar?)

Remember, when a good employee quits, morale suffers, not to mention your leaving will jeopardize current projects, increase other staffers’ workload or even foul up a vacation schedule. When you resign on your time frame, you’re deciding when you will leave, not the other way around. It’s far better for your present company to try and keep you for a few months while perhaps a project is completed and/or your replacement is found. Then the company can let you go on the company’s time frame, not yours!

Counteroffers are typically made in conjunction with some form of guilt or flattery. For example:

  • You’re too valuable to the team, and we need you.
  • You don’t want to desert the team and leave them hanging, do you?
  • Congratulation, we were just about to give you a promotion/raise, but it was confidential until today.
  • What did they offer, why are you leaving, and what do you need to stay?
  • Why would you want to work for that company?
  • The VP wants to meet with you personally before you make your final decision

Why do people consider accepting a counter-offer when they know it’s wrong?
Accepting a counteroffer is often the easy choice to make, since changing jobs means stress, a new routine, new challenges, etc. Don’t be lulled into complacency by this way of thinking. Your career isn’t a security blanket, it’s a dynamic, constantly evolving play, and you are the lead actor. REMEMBER, 93 percent of those accepting counter are still gone within 12 months.

What is the best way to deal with counteroffers?

It’s simple!

Don’t allow a counteroffer discussion to begin in the first place. Take command of the situation. Inform your boss in a professional and confident voice that your mind is made up, and you’ll do everything you can to make the transition process easier. Work out your notice fully, and be professional about your departure. You might still feel awkward during your last few weeks (or hours); that’s just human nature. But by exiting in a professional manner, you’ve hopefully left behind some solid references as well as some friends.

Remember, even your boss resigned from their last job to take their current job.


Tim Howard is the founder of Energy Sourcing, an Energy Technology Executive Search Firm, which helps companies find exceptional talent through executive search, permanent placement and project consulting.  Howard has been leading technology staffing teams for over 15 years and is the founder of three other technology and staffing firms.  He has degrees from Texas A&M University in Industrial Distribution and Marketing.  

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