Should You Accept A Counteroffer?

Finally, you landed a job offer! You’ve just spent the last six months searching for a new job and the relief you feel with an offer in hand is massive! Now it's time to quit. Are you ready for that?

Sure you're ready! You love the company you're moving to. You love the team you'll be a part of. And, having the flexibility to work from home two days a week, a gym onsite and the ability to branch out into a new line of business doesn't suck either. You will learn so much! So why does giving your two week notice fill you with dread?

How To Handle Your Resignation

You’ve drafted a gushing resignation letter. You are all set to say adios gang! As you sit down with your boss and share the news you're leaving, she seems shocked. She is curious why you're quitting. You explain you no longer enjoy your work. You aren’t challenged, you don’t feel fulfilled. Basically, you're no longer excited to come to work.

As you scan her face for a reaction, you can’t help but wonder why she is so surprised. After all, you’ve been open about all of this with her in past conversations. She of course says she is sad to see you go, asks if she can change your mind and finally wishes you well. Thank goodness that’s done, or is it?

A Counteroffer Looms

A week goes by and it is business as usual. You can’t wait for the next five days to pass so you can move on to your new role! Then, your boss pops her head in your office.

She proceeds to explain they just can’t live without you. She says she’s gone to bat for you. She can’t promise a promotion right away, but you'll definitely be fast tracked to a leadership spot. She then tells you they are increasing your base pay and bonus percentage. Wow! More money and a fast track to leadership! What should you do, stay or go?

At this point you're conflicted. An increase in pay with your current employer will put you slightly above the offer your new employer made. Maybe you should call the recruiter and have them match your counteroffer? Maybe you should just stay where you are. Getting more money and a promotion to stay sounds pretty enticing.

What Is The Right Choice

If you've ever been in this spot, then you know how hard it is to manage a counteroffer. If you haven’t received a counteroffer in your career, hang on because you will. Employers nearly always react when an awesome employee resigns. The million dollar question though: How will you respond to this situation when it happens in your career?

We've coached thousands of professionals on how to navigate counteroffers. For those individuals who decide to stick to their guns, accept their new role and move on from their previous employer, all is well and they move forward with no regrets. However, when someone chooses to accept the counteroffer, their career typically becomes complicated very quickly.

Which is why you need to think twice before accepting a counteroffer.

What Happens When You Accept A Counteroffer

When you first accept a counteroffer, you'll get a sense of finality. You'll feel relived; stress will leave and you'll be able to relax, but only for a few days. Why? Because a counteroffer will hang over your head much longer than you can imagine. When most professionals look back on a counteroffer, they easily see why accepting it was a huge mistake.

Think about how you feel when a counteroffer is presented. You're already stressed from your job search and the resignation process. Then, you're handed a counteroffer. When you decided to accept it, you're often caught up in the frenzy of the moment. You just want the pressure to subside. And, let's be honest, the concept that you're a key player on the team, that you'll be promoted and your pay will increase is flattering and exciting to hear!

Overwhelmed, stressed and feeling a warm security blanket of love from your boss, you to accept the counteroffer and remain in your comfort zone. Somewhere along the way, you forget why you started job searching in the first place.

So, regardless of the promises made, slow down and ask why you're receiving a counteroffer.

  • Why now?
  • Why is it that you had to resign in order for your boss to react to the concerns you have voiced repeatedly?
  • Why is your employer willing to throw money your way now?
  • If you're such an important part of the team, why weren’t you compensated at a higher level all along?
  • What is really motivating your boss to give you a counteroffer?

So let's look at the facts. It's obvious that you're valued or you would have never been given the chance to field a counteroffer. It's also obvious that your boss wasn’t prepared for your resignation. Put yourself in your boss's shoes.

  • Now your boss is scrambling to fill your void.
  • He or she needs to replace you, asap.
  • Hiring your replacement will weigh on the budget. The cost to hire someone is not cheap.
  • Lost time and productivity while searching for your replacement looms in the back of your boss's mind.
  • Weighing these facts, it is clear your boss is having a knee jerk reaction to your unplanned resignation.

The Reason You Should Not Accept A Counteroffer

When the dust settles, typically all parties involved tend to see an accepted counteroffer in a similar light; and it's not good.

When you accept a counteroffer, things are awesome at first. You're happy with your new found wealth. Your boss is happy she isn't rushing to find your replacement. Life is good. But, as time passes, the happiness wears off.

  • Employers often become resentful because they feel you held them hostage for a pay raise.
  • Promised promotions rarely happen.
  • What was once great employee/employer relationship, slowly deteriorates. After all, you tried to quit. In your bosses mind you really aren’t a key player they can rely on now. What if you decide to quit again?

For you, the situation sadly feels very similar.

  • You burned a bridge with a great company because you stiffed them when you accepted a counteroffer.
  • You stayed in your current role for an increase in pay, but once you adjust to your new compensation and the shine fades, you realize nothing has changed. Your job still stinks. You're still bored and looking for challenge.
  • You begin to feel like an outsider, something changed after you accepted the counter offer.
  • You no longer receive projects with high visibility; you're just punching the clock.
  • You end up starting your job search again and wonder what might have been with the awesome role you let slip away 6 months prior.

Leave The Counteroffer At Your Last Job

While I certainly cannot tell you that each and every accepted counteroffer I have helped professionals navigate has turned into a regretful situation, I can confidently say the majority have done just that. A counteroffer is a very short sided reaction to a stressful situation for both employers and employees.

If you're faced with a counteroffer, first consider why you started your job search. If a pay increase was your only go get, fabulous, you won! Accept the counteroffer and let the chips fall where they may. However, if you started a job search because you were looking for a new challenge, upward opportunity or a different culture, then do not accept a counteroffer.

Sadly. accepting a counteroffer equates to wrapping yourself around an axel; you more than likely will walk away bruised and battered. Do yourself a favor, remember why you started your job search and politely walk away from a counteroffer. Odds are you’ll look back and be glad you did.

Still Torn?

Negotiating a job offer, managing a counteroffer or asking for a pay raise is difficult. Turning to a Career Coach will help you filter out the noise and get the compensation you deserve. Our coaches have professional experience in the industry they work in , providing you a unique perspective from someone who has been in your shoes. Simplify Your Career Today!

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About The Author

Recognized nationally as an industry leader in resume writing and career coaching, Jeanna McGinnis, CPRW is a Founding Board Member at ReResumeMe and AVP, Career Strategy at A Players Executive Search Group Inc. Leveraging more than 15 years of experience directing hiring practices for multiple Fortune 100 companies, Jeanna and her team are refreshing how busy professionals brand, market and drive their careers. Please connect with Jeanna on LinkedIn or ReResumeMe on Twitter to simplify your career with updates on careers, job search and resume best practices!