Why accepting a counteroffer can be a big mistake

Elaine Kennedy 16.04.2013

Congratulations! You knew it was time for a new job. You carried out a successful interview, said yes to the great offer that followed but what happens next?

Your company decides that for whatever reason, they can’t lose you so they present you with an enticing counteroffer, with an attractive raise and exciting new title, however accepting a counteroffer after giving notice can be career suicide.

What should you do?
Surprisingly enough, this is not an uncommon dilemma faced by many high-demand professionals.  A counteroffer is flattering and gives you the impression that your company now appreciates you but that is rarely the case. It is much more convenient for your company to increase your salary or offer you a promotion than to have to deal with having to hire and train someone new to replace you.
A study has shown that more than 50% of people accept the counteroffer but within a 12-18 month period, over 90% of those people quit or have been fired and the remaining were back on the market searching for a new job.
If you are presented with a counteroffer, you have to remember why you wanted a new job in the first place.  Was it because you felt undervalued as an employee?; did you experience a negative work environment?; was it the issue of money?, or could it be down to dysfunctional management?
There are risks and costs to accepting a counter job offer:
  • You will have lost the company's trust and are now seen as a disloyal employee
  • Your opportunity for future promotions have been jeopardised
  • Your direct supervisor may harbour resentment towards you
  • Your work colleagues may resent you if they feel you are getting special treatment
  • You have damaged future relationships with the company
It would be advisable to never use the tactic of ‘I’m quitting for a new job’ to manipulate getting a promotion or raise at work. A better approach would be to address the issues around your reason for choosing to leave and see if an effort can be made to resolve them before you set out on a job search. 
Give your resignation in writing telling them you are confident that you have made the right decision and hopefully you won’t then be tempted to consider a counteroffer now that you are aware of what is really behind it.
Elaine Kennedy's picture
Operations Director