Dealing with Counter Offers

Quitting a job is never easy. Career changes are tough enough and the anxieties of leaving a comfortable job, friends and environment for an unknown opportunity can easily cloud anyone’s judgment. But what should you do when your current employer “muddies the water” even more by asking you to stay.

A counteroffer is an inducement from your current employer to get you to stay after you’ve announced your intentions to accept another job elsewhere. In recent years, counteroffers have practically become the norm. If you are considering a counteroffer, remain focused on your primary objectives. Why were you looking for another job to begin with? If an employee is happy with their current job and/or salary, they’re usually not paving the road with resumes. So, oftentimes a counteroffer that promises more money never really remedies the real reasons for wanting to move on in the first place. Apart from a short-term bandage on the problem, nothing will change within the company and when the dust settles you can find yourself back in the same old rut.

Recruiters report that more than 80% of those who accept counteroffers leave, begin looking for another job, or are “let go” within six to twelve months after announcing their intentions.

Counteroffers are certainly flattering and make an employee question their initial decision to leave. But oftentimes they are merely stall tactics used by bosses and companies to alleviate an upheaval a departing employee can cause. High turnover also brings a boss’s management skills into question. His reaction is to do what’s necessary until he’s better prepared to replace you. You need to ask yourself what kind of company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they pay you what you’re worth?

Here are some of the the things they’ll say to encourage you to stay:

  • “You can’t leave, the department really needs you.”
  • “We were just about to give you a raise”
  • “I didn’t know you were unhappy.”
  • “Why didn’t you come to me sooner?”
  • “What can we do to make things better?”

Consider the following issues that might come up after you receive a counter-offer:

  • Where did the money for the counteroffer come from? Is it your next raise or promotion just given early?
  • Are future opportunities limited now?
  • Will you have to threaten to leave again for another raise or promotion?
  • Your demonstrated unhappiness may be viewed as blackmail used to get a raise.
  • Your loyalty might also be questioned come promotion time.

Well managed companies rarely make counteroffers since they view their employment policies as fair and equitable. If you do consider being “brought back”, obtain the details of the offer in writing, as well as a one-year “no-cut” contract from the employer. If they refuse, as two-thirds of counteroffering employers do, your decision to leave ought to be final.

One final consideration is to evaluate your current job and the new position as if you were unemployed, then make your decision based on which holds the most real potential. It’s probably the job offer you just accepted.