Are Counteroffers Really A Bad Thing?

You’ve accepted a new job and all that’s left to do is to tell your boss that you’re leaving. It’s a pretty straightforward process, unless your current employer presents a compelling counteroffer.
Most people just assume that they won’t receive one, but it is becoming more and more common. Although far from the norm, we have actually seen a $30,000 salary increase counteroffer!

Almost every recruiter will tell you to turn down a counteroffer. The usual arguments against accepting a counteroffer go something like this:

  • If you’re so important and valuable that they’re willing to give you a new title and more money to stay, why didn’t they do it before you said you were leaving?
  • Their actions are likely an emotional knee-jerk reaction to losing you. That, or they genuinely need you to finish an important project. Either way, once the dust settles and their needs are met, they will likely feel betrayed and decide to let you go.
  • Although it may be nice, more money in your pocket won’t change the reasons you were originally looking to leave. Your boss/coworkers will still be insufferable, the company/products will still be stale, you still won’t feel excited about the job, or you still won’t be adequately challenged.
  • Statistically speaking, about 75% of people who accept counteroffers leave or are let go of within 12 months.

These are some of the most important reasons why we headhunters tell our candidates that it’s usually a pretty bad idea to take a counteroffer. That being said, there are reasons why taking a counteroffer may make a lot of sense, at least in the short-run.

  1. Significantly more money! Who doesn’t want more money?
  2. You don’t have to change anything! There is no need to learn a new company culture, relocate, learn about new products or systems, build relationships with new co-workers, or order new business cards.
  3. It feels great to know that you are wanted and valued enough to be fought for.

But ultimately, the greatest downside to accepting a counteroffer, even when it seems to make sense to do so, is that it may be short lived. If there were genuine, compelling reasons why you were looking to make a job change in the first place, then a counteroffer probably won’t fix those issues. Also, you will be burning a bridge with the other company by rejecting the job offer that you’d initially accepted from them.

If you do decide to take a counteroffer, be sure to 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 down the line.