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The Counteroffer Dilemma - Why You Should Never Accept It

17th Apr 2012


“As a human being I completely understand how a counteroffer of more money or a more impressive job title would set your brain whirring and cause a quandary.”

I read an interesting article this week in the Yahoo News written by Alison Green in the U.S. News and World Report LP. It broaches the sensitive subject of ‘Why you shouldn’t take a counteroffer’.

As a recruiter, this is a topic close to my heart. There is nothing more frustrating than a counteroffer arising at the end of a lengthy and sometimes tricky process of securing someone a role and salary that they’re happy with. However, as a human being I completely understand how a counteroffer of more money or a more impressive job title would set your brain whirring and cause a quandary.

The article in questions makes 6 sound and logical point as to why the counteroffer should be declined. They are as follows;

  1. Employers often make counteroffers in a moment of panic, for fear of losing you at a critical period. Once the initial relief passes (of having secured you), you may find that your relationship withthe employer (and/or line manager) has fundamentally changed. You could be back to square one.
  2. Your company may just want to keep you for a while longer whilst they secure a replacement. You might find yourself pushed out soon afterwards, despite having accepted the counteroffer. Did you know that 70-80% of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within a year?
  3. There’s a reason you started job-searching in the first place. Just because you are paid more money or given a more senior job title, are those reasons for wanting to leave in the first place going to fundamentally change?
  4. It took you trying to resign for your company to give you the salary increase or the job title you wanted. Is it going to be as difficult in the future to get further pay rises and career development? Is it really worth having to battle to get noticed, when your company should recognise your value in the first place?
  5. Your current employer may tell you to go ahead and take the other offer, even if you are really using it as a means to get a pay rise or more senior job title. Using the job offer to get more out of your current employer is a fine line – what if it backfires on you?
  6. If you turn down the new job offer and accept a counteroffer from your current employer, then the other company is highly unlikely to consider you for a role in the future. Once bitten, twice shy. Is it worth burning your bridges with a potential future employer?

Of course, the 6 points above should serve as a mere warning and not the firm rule. However, in the case of counteroffers I think it’s a great idea to be aware of the potential pitfalls and make an educated decision based on the individual circumstances.

If you were unhappy enough in your current role to go looking for a new job in the first place, then perhaps it’s time to move on, and be brave. Often no amount of money or improved job title is worth your sanity.