Home » Tech Talk » Counter Offers: the Not-So-Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I decided that my next blog would be on counter offers. What they are, when we get them, why to take them, why to not take them. While doing my research, I got side tracked when I noticed one trend: not one article or piece of literature said “you should take a counter offer.” Instead I found thousands upon thousands of articles saying DON’T DO IT!

As recruiters, we all dread the counter offer, but as employees we understand the risks and fears associated with accepting a new position. Here are some things to consider when you are offered a counter offer.

FIRST: Breaking up is hard to do. It’s hard to leave your security blanket of what you know, especially when you have made friends and established positive relationships at your current position. Make sure when you decide to leave your job and start looking, that you are really ready to leave the security.

SECOND: Be prepared to get a counter offer. After you have already accepted a new position, chances are you are going to get a counteroffer. Make sure you know what you are going to say to your employer if that is the case. Keep it simple and concise; don’t bad mouth anyone or give too many details.

Right: “I was offered an opportunity to further my career that I can’t pass up.”

Wrong: “I’m sick of the drama here, and they offered me 10k more.”

Specifically if you are recruiter, it’s important to prep your candidate on the possibility of the counter offer. We will provide additional insight for recruiters in another blog!


THIRD If you aren’t ready to leave your current position, don’t look for a position just to leverage the offer to your current employer. According to Forbes “Pitting your employer against another in a bidding war for you is often career suicide.” If you simply weren’t expecting one and think it’s a better option to stay at your current company, here are the reasons you shouldn’t take that counter offer:

1. Your loyalty is crushed. You’ve showed your boss that you were unhappy enough not only to search for new positions but to actually accept one. This means many things for your career.

+ When you are up for promotion, your boss is not going to promote a flight risk.
+ When the economy starts to crumble or your company has hit a rough spot, who do you think will be the first to be laid off? If you guessed the person that took the counter offer, you are right. [Wisdom Journal]
+ Your co-workers will doubt your loyalty, not only to the company, but to them as well. To them you are as good as gone.

2. You Burn bridges. Your new prospective employer was expecting you to start. Who knows how far they took the process. According to the Wisdom Journal, “It’s like leaving someone at the alter.”

+ Aside from burning bridges, you may be added to blacklists. Recruiters and other hiring managers may have put you on their list of people that won’t take an offer.

3. Honor and dignity. “…accepting a counter-offer is usually career suicide…you’ll have squandered your honor, a sacrifice that will haunt you for many years.” [Forbes]. It says a lot about your character if you are willing to use a job offer as leverage.

+ If you don’t care much about your character, you will still never know the lasting consequences on your reputation.

4. Around 90% of people are fired or quit within the first year of taking a counter offer. We’ve all heard this stat, why is this the case?

+ Your current company has made some new promises, will they actually change? You likely started you job hunt, not just because you are underpaid, but for many other reasons, from company culture to that new guy they hired in HR. If you stay, these things are still going to bug you, maybe even more now that you had a chance to leave.
+ As I mentioned before, you are first on the chopping block when your company comes on hard times.

5. Where did the money come from? If your company is willing to pay you more now that you are leaving, why didn’t you get a raise for your work before hand? Is this money your next raise or bonus disguised as a counter offer?
Consider your options carefully when you are on the job hunt. Know that your employer will likely counter. Make sure you are ready to leave when you start the hunt and stick with that decision. Counter offers can be complex and hard to deal with, do your research and follow the trends (you know, the ones that say don’t take counter offers) before you calculate your decision.