Is it Ever a Good Idea to Accept a Counteroffer?

You have accepted a new job and all that’s left to do is tell your boss you’re leaving.  It should be pretty straightforward, but have you thought about the counteroffer?  Most people assume they won’t receive one, but as the market continues to heat up counteroffers are becoming much more common.  We have recently seen organizations make counteroffers as large as $30,000 to entice key individuals to stay.  What would you say if your boss offered you $30,000 to stay?

The traditional logic says to always turn down a counteroffer!

Having said all that, there are several reasons why taking the counteroffer may actually be in your best interest.

#1  More money!  This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Who doesn’t want more money?

#2  You don’t have to change anything!  There is no need to learn a new company culture, learn about new products or systems, and get to know new people or order new business cards.

#3  It feels good to know you are wanted and valued as part of the organization.  Everyone wants to feel valued and it feels great when someone yells: “Wait! Don’t go!  We can’t live without you!

#4  Did I mention if you stay you will get more money and not have to change anything?

In all seriousness, there are people who accept counteroffers and end up very satisfied long term.  Depending on your situation, it may make sense to accept a counteroffer but statistics show that it will likely be short lived.  If there were genuine, compelling reasons that you were looking to make a job change in the first place a counteroffer will likely not fix them.  If getting more money was your only motivation for making a change then you will get what you want by accepting the counteroffer, but there are better ways to ask for a raise.  By accepting the counteroffer you will get more money, but the awesome job you already accepted won’t be waiting for you if things don’t work out.

The arguments against accepting a counteroffer go something like this:

  • If they value you so much that they are willing to give you a new title and more money to stay, why didn’t they do it before you said you were leaving?
  • They are having an emotional reaction to losing you, or they genuinely need you to finish an important project. Once the dust settles and the immediate need is satisfied, they will likely feel betrayed and will let you go.
  • More money won’t change the reasons you were originally looking to leave. Your boss/coworkers will still be intolerable, the company/products are still stale and you still won’t be challenged.
  • Statistically speaking, about 75% of the people that accept counteroffers are let go or leave within 1 year anyway.

These are all of the very real and true reasons that we headhunters tell you that it is never a good idea to take a counteroffer.  Do you really want to work in a place where you have to threaten to leave before they pay you what your worth?  Or do you want to run the risk of accepting a counteroffer and then being let go 3 months later when you finish that critical project?

If you do decide to take a counter offer, make sure you get everything in writing, including a one year “no cut” or severance package if they change their minds.  Otherwise you may end up without either job two months later…