Counter Offers – Why you shouldn’t accept them

Counter-Offer, a Gift Horse to look in the Mouth

Good candidates are incredibly difficult to find, particularly in a buoyant job market. It’s amazing how many employers suddenly see what a good employee they have – once they are faced with the prospect of losing them. It’s flattering to be offered more money and possibly better career prospects if you stay. It’s also so much easier to stay with an employer you know and of course with whom you have a track record of success.

But what are the facts? Did you know that 81% of candidates who are counter-offered leave within six months? The offer of newly-improved employment conditions typically result from short-term employer expediency. Despite the promises of improved pay, better prospects and new found responsibilities the environment hasn’t changed and the same feelings of dissatisfaction linger. Who stands to gain more from you staying put – you with two offers in your hand and the promise of better pay and prospects or your employer who will need to start a search for another you in a market where good candidates are hard to find and there will be a lead period of at least a few months while the new you is being trained and inducted?

So with at least two offers in your hand, how do you weigh them up?

Firstly, you should expect to be counter-offered. Good candidates are hard to find, so why wouldn’t your employer do this? However, know the reasons you want to change jobs in the first place.


·  Lack of Career Development opportunities

·  Lack of support from your team or Manager

·  Bored and want something more challenging

·  You want to take the next step in your career i.e. promotion from current level

·  Travel – you want more or less

·  Work/Life balance – i.e. flexibility, work from home

·  Require study support

·  Better package i.e. healthcare, car allowance, pension scheme

·  Lengthy commute

·  Relocation

Whatever the reason(s), it was a deal breaker, which is why you have been looking for a new job.

·  If your boss is now offering you more money because you have handed in your resignation, consider the reasons why – especially if you have approached this subject before and walked away empty handed.

–     Do you believe it is because they have realised you are a valuable member of the team or is it because they do not want to deal with the hassle of redistributing your work and finding your replacement.

–     Your Manager is worried Department Morale will suffer if employees are leaving the company.

–     Companies want to have a low turnover rate and resignations do not look good on a manager’s record.

–     Projects you were working on will suffer delays.

–     Your employer may not want sensitive or confidential information going to a competitor.

–     Your employer will not want a skilled professional working for the competition.

–     If you are tempted to take the counter offer consider what else would change if anything. If money is the only motivation for looking for a new role consider the struggle you will have to gain a pay increase in the future, counter offers usually come out of your next raise or promotion.

–     Think about how much money it would cost the company to replace you in comparison to the counter offer, is it a fair reflection or a small bribe?

So, if you accept the counter-offer sucker-punch what are your prospects?

1.     Nothing else will change

–     The same frustrations and dissatisfaction that you had prior to the counter offer will still  be there after you have accepted the money, this will only increase over time and when you come to looking for a new job again that perfect role might not be available.

2.     Your relationship with your manager will not be the same

–     When you hand in your resignation you are in the position of power and your manager will feel the stress of replacing you. If you accept a counter offer the power will revert back and your manager could quickly harbour feelings of resentment and the idea that you are a possible flight risk and could leave at any time.

3.     Diminished job security

–     If cuts are necessary in the future, your manager will remember that you had intentions of leaving and hold that against you when it comes to making decisions on who will be leaving the company. Remember your manager asked you to stay for his own benefit!

–     A counter offer can be used as nothing more than a stall tactic in order to give them time to find your replacement.

4.     Likely to leave soon after anyway

–     81% of candidates accepting the counter-offer do so within six months. With this in mind it is likely that the reasons you are looking to move now are the same reasons you will be looking to move in 6 months’ time.

So, if 81% of candidates who accept counter-offers end-up leaving within 6 months, carefully consider whether you are genuinely one of the one in five for whom accepting a counter-offer sometimes works. You may be special, you may be hard to replace and that’s all very flattering but don’t stay put just because it’s easier. High achievers rarely become so by choosing the easy option.