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Should You Take a Counter-Offer?

When you accept a new job offer, it is possible that your current employer will make a counter-offer in order to convince you to stay. This typically comes in the form of increased salary, benefits package and/or a change in role.

In today’s competitive job market, counter-offers are becoming more common as companies strive to retain top talent. However, in many cases, the counter-offer benefits the company more than the employee. It is often a short-term fix as opposed to a long-term strategy.


Accepting a counter-offer can be counterproductive

Counter-offers are gratifying but the risks might outweigh the rewards. Watching your boss scramble to keep you may be a heady experience, but this decision might haunt you for many years. You may never know exactly when or to what extent your reputation has been sullied.


Your employer will never see you in the same light again, and in the boss’ eyes, your resignation has demonstrated a lack of loyalty to the company. With the bond of trust broken, your employer will never be certain about how long you’ll remain with the organisation. This can impact on your working relationship going forward, and even see you overlooked for projects spanning an extended timeframe. You will be expected to perform like a new hire, proving yourself all over again to justify your new salary or position.


Recruiters and bosses do not forget

Your reputation could be sullied, both internally and externally. Any decision to accept a counter-offer must consider its long-term impact. We’re not saying don’t take counter-offers ever; we’re saying don’t take that decision lightly. Don’t even resign, rather negotiate the changes you want made to your conditions without having to resign. And if they won’t grant you that conditions maybe you should resign and not accept a counter-offer should they make one. If they won’t give you what you want when you ask, what impact will it make on your relationship with them when you forced them?


Initially, the company that retained you delights in winning you back from the competition. But after perhaps six months, management will begin resenting you for essentially extorting money or power from the firm. Anytime you use a new job offer as a bargaining chip with your boss; there’s always a risk you’ll lose the bet.


Naturally, recruiters are wary of candidates that accept an offer from their client and then accept a counter-offer from their employer. It is always best to make the decision that you’re going to leave or not before you take the offer.


Evaluate your current position and have an honest conversation with your boss

To be fair, other opportunities can provide confidence and some degree of leverage for employees to negotiate with their current employer. When you are recruited for another job, ask yourself: What are the pros and cons of my career path at my current employer? If the negatives outweigh the positives, you must leave. However, you may decide you genuinely like your position/company/career path, aside from one or two problems, in which case it’s time to have a frank conversation with your boss before you accept any other offer.


Ask your boss for visibility regarding how you’re rated in the company, your next assignment, and what the next 5 years could look like. You may have to push hard to get the answer, but it’s best to do this before you resign, effectively putting a gun to their head. Then you will know what they’ve planned for you, as opposed to when you resign and they offer you something under duress, which may not happen unless in writing. And even if it happens, maybe they overpromised under duress.


Down the road, such a conversation will be far more valuable if you choose not to force your boss into a buyback offer. You will retain your reputation for transparency, and this serves you far better than a single raise or promotion ever could.

Paul Loftus

Managing Partner of Loftus Bradford Group, a boutique Executive Search firm, serving our clients globally by attracting top, international, diverse talent in General Management, Sales, Marketing, Big Data, E-Commerce, Retail, Strategic Planning, Supply Chain, Manufacturing and Procurement.


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