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Why You Shouldn’t Accept a Counteroffer

Updated: Jun 24

To be clear, a counteroffer is something a candidate receives from his current employer to entice him to turn down an offer from a new employer. The word “counteroffer” has long been loathed and feared in the recruiting community. Candidates are under the assumption that recruiters work so hard against counteroffers to save themselves a commission check, but the truth is, counteroffers hurt everyone. Below is a list of solid reasons why you should think twice before you invite or accept a counteroffer. It should be stated that no candidate should enter the recruiting process purely with the intention of receiving a counteroffer. If you have no desire to leave your current company and are purely looking for a way to make more money, you should reconsider your options. Never enter negotiations with a potential new employer unless you are intentionally looking for a new opportunity.

Just the facts

According to the National Employment Association, about 80% of people who accept a counteroffer from their current employer are not with that same employer 6 months later. The fact of the matter is, a counteroffer does not solve the issue of why you were looking to leave in the first place – it only prolongs it. A candidate once said it’s like postponing a dental visit – you only succeed in letting things deteriorate more while continuing to suffer the pain.

Professional courtesy

It’s easy to imagine taking an offer with a new company while it’s on the table only to keep considering your options after the fact. If a potential employer presented you with an offer that you then signed and returned to them, you would consider the deal closed. If the company then turned around a few days later and stated that they have found someone better, you would cry foul play. It is very much the same thing when a candidate accepts a counteroffer from their current employer. The company has made a commitment to that candidate by dismissing other candidates and counting on adding that candidate’s skill set to the team. It is simply not professional to accept an offer only to turn around and take a counteroffer. And it could quite possibly be occupational suicide.

Burning bridges

There’s a misconception that accepting a counteroffer only hurts the company you are turning down – not true. Besides forever ruining your chances with the newer company, you have also left the door open for this company to share their history of you with others in your professional field. Do not be so naïve to think these things do not spread. You will find that the industry is surprisingly small and that a name can spread very quickly. Additionally, you have now proven to your superior that you can be bought for a price. Now that your co-workers know you were looking to leave, it leaves the door open for them to ask for more money as well.

A bribe by any other name is still… a bribe

It has many times been stated that it costs a company more money to hire and train a new employee than retain an old one. Therefore, when the company chooses to give you a counteroffer, that decision is based on their own well-being, not yours. Bribes are always in the best interest of the briber; which also means that they can hold their “bribe” over your head for as long as they wish every time they need something else. It never stops at the counteroffer alone.

Looking to the future

Where is the money for your counteroffer coming from? Your next promotion? And if the company should falter unexpectedly and be forced to cut corners, they will remember that you once wanted to leave. As far as your co-workers are concerned, you’ve changed the office dynamics. Your lack of dedication to the team means that they now view you as having one foot out the door. All of these pressures hit candidates who accept counteroffers less than six months after doing so. Which is why people end up leaving anyway.

*The bottom line is that if you wish to stay with your current employer, don’t offer your resignation; if you do offer your resignation, don’t stay.

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