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When is it right to accept a counter offer?

Having recently read a number of blogs on this subject I feel compelled to write this as I believe most articles are very one sided in their viewpoint. Most are focused on outlining to candidates the many reasons why, when they resign, they should not be tempted to stay by a counter offer. I don’t think I have read anything explaining the reasons why you SHOULD accept a counter offer but here’s the thing - there are times and there are circumstances when the right thing to do is to stay put.

To me it all comes down to the individual’s motivations for leaving the organisation in the first place. Often individuals are very happy in their careers, working for a company they respect, where they are paid well for the job that they do, where they are culturally aligned and where they feel valued. Sometimes the missing piece and hence their desire to move on is purely driven by their ambition to take on a more senior role with more responsibility. If the counter offer entails gaining that promotion and taking on that responsibility then why not accept?

You can ask why had the promotion not happened already however sometimes (particularly in the current market) there has to be a reason or a rationale to make things happen. Your resignation may just be that catalyst that makes things happen.  Only you as an individual will know how well you have been looked after and how genuine your employer’s intentions are.

As has been well documented, I would also caution people from accepting a counter offer based on either pure promises  or increased salary alone. This is an important and difficult decision for people to make, often with two competing parties putting you under significant pressure to stay or to accept the other role.  Certainly, these situations are rarely as clear cut as many articles suggest.

My advice if you are unsure is to talk to people you trust who are impartial to the situation and who will try and make you see the situation in a balanced and unbiased way.

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Tags: counter, job, offer, recruitment, search

Comment by David Li on October 13, 2012 at 1:02pm

While I do agree with the fact that I have never seen or read any positing on reasons why a person should accept a counter offer. I do not agree with your example.


Why did it take a company until an employee decides to leave to promote them? You say they needed the extra motivation, but as you stated there wasn't a real justification for the promotion, not structure wise anyways. They only did it to keep their current employee and now they have a lead or manager that wasn't required. Many people advise against taking these kind of deals as well because now the employee will be seen as a flight risk so further promotion might not be considered and also they are costing the company more than what they had budgeted for. The latter reason is cause for the company to look for your replacement within the next few months.


That being said, a counter offer isn't a bad thing. It's just more leverage for the employee to see if they can increase the amount/benefits with the new company.

Comment by pam claughton on October 13, 2012 at 3:38pm

Sadly, most counter-offers are simply desperate band-aid moves made by an employer to solve the problem of you leaving. Over the years I've seen it proven true time and time again, I don't recall the percentage but it's very high, maybe in the 90% range that by the six month mark, most people who accepted a counter-offer are disillusioned and looking again. Very often, promises were made that were broken and the reason for wanting to leave is still there. A recent example, a colleague of mine had a declined offer due to a counter-offer when the candidate's company told her, "don't leave, we want you to open a new office right in your town, we've been meaning to tell you that." Her reason for leaving was that she didn't want to work remotely anymore, she wanted to be in an office working with other people. So, she accepted the counter-offer and exactly six months later called us almost in tears....the office near her house never materialized. 

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