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Should You Take a Counter-Offer?

When you accept a new job offer, it’s 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’s 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 is 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 can never be certain about how long you will 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 tarnished, both internally and externally. Before taking a decision to accept a counter-offer, the long-term impact must be considered. 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 those 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 have on your relationship with them when you force their hand?


Initially, the company that retained you delights in winning you back from the competition. But after perhaps six months, the management will begin to resent you for essentially extorting money or power from the firm. Any time you use a new job offer as a bargaining chip with your boss, there’s always a risk you will 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’s 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 this 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, what your next assignment is, and what the next five years could look like. You may have to push hard to get the answer, but it’s best to do this before you resign and then you will know what they have planned for you. Whereas, when you resign, effectively putting a gun to their head, whatever they offer will come under duress; it’s likely they will overpromise and may not happen unless you get it in writing.


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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