Why Accepting A Counter Offer Can Be A Bad Idea

By Gerald Walsh ©

Quitting your job to take a new one is seldom easy. Even if your new job pays more money, reduces commute time, and offers more room for growth, it can still be difficult to leave your current employer.

So, what happens if you get a counter offer? If your current employer tries to persuade you to stay by offering you a bigger salary, a promotion, or increased responsibilities? This can be tempting, especially if you are not really unhappy in your current job and like your co-workers.

From your boss’ perspective, your resignation can cause all types of problems. It can make them look bad especially if you have been a top performer. It can cause productivity to drop until they find someone to replace you. It can even dampen morale in the department particularly if you were well liked. And it may cause other employees to start “looking around.”

Let's face it. Unless you are really incompetent and difficult to work with, your boss probably won’t want you to go and may go to great lengths to keep you.

So what should you do?

When you have received a new offer of employment – which you are inclined to accept – you must review it carefully to determine if it really solves your problem. What was your reason(s) for looking for a new job in the first place? Was it more money? Professional growth? More challenging work? Better location? Nicer people? Make sure that the new job satisfies your needs.

Then, if you receive a counter offer from your current employer, go through the same review process. Is it meeting your needs? The main tool most employers use in a counter offer is money. They increase your salary. While that may be nice, a salary increase alone likely does not address all the other issues.

My experience is that most people who accept counter offers and stay with their employer learn that things don’t really change and find themselves looking for another job within a year.

There is another consideration that most people overlook. Even if you end up staying, you have now signaled to your boss that you are unhappy. From this day on, your loyalty will always be in question. You may be thought of as a problem employee. You may be overlooked for training opportunities or promotions. You may not get any more salary increases. And – when times get tough – you may be thought of a “expendable.” The cutbacks will likely start with you. Isn’t it better to leave on your own terms?

Remember, last-minute counter offers tend to be temporary solutions. It’s not that you have suddenly become more valuable to your employer. It is because they don’t want to deal with the work disruption or embarrassment that your departure will create.

In most cases, it is best to say “no thanks.”


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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.