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Employer Counter Offer: Here's Why You Should Never Accept It

John owns a small digital marketing agency and hires several talents for his client's projects. He also writes about careers and HR.

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Have you been feeling underappreciated or underpaid lately? Or were you passed over for a promotion you thought you deserved? Is the work becoming more and more frustrating? Overloaded. Burnt-out.

Well, at some point, you will experience these unpleasing circumstances as a professional. And if you continue to feel the same way for a week or two, you are going to explore other career opportunities and send proposals.

Then BAAM!

You get a response from a promising employer, saying: "we're eager to have you on board, and here's what you get when you're with us (insert satisfying offer)."

Now that you have your safety net, you then write a formal resignation letter to your boss. But here's where the problem arises: you get a counteroffer from your current employer. Making you ask:

Should I Accept a Counteroffer From My Employer?

Quick Answer: No! Never Accept a Current Employer's Counteroffer!

Why?

The reasons that prompted you to look for a new job or employer will still be there after accepting your current employer's counteroffer. You'll still have the same boss you hate, the same awful company culture, the same commute problems, and the same work-life balance issues. Accepting a counteroffer only eases your problems, it doesn't solve them.

Why Trust Me?

I run a small digital marketing agency and have worked as a marketing contractor for over seven years. Part of what I do is to seek out talents and offer them positions for my organization's projects.

It's frustrating to receive responses from my candidates saying they're declining the offer because their current employer gave them a raise, promotion, or anything to counter my offer. However, the painful part is getting an email after two weeks that they've changed their minds. The problem is that the position I once offered them is no longer open.

Counteroffer Definition

Counteroffer Definition

Don't Fall for Your Current Employer's Counteroffer: Three Core Reasons

While you may have heard from several online career gurus that 80% of candidates who accept a counteroffer end up leaving within six months, that's a myth. What's not a myth, however, is that 48% do leave within the first year of accepting a counteroffer. And a whopping 92% leave within 36 months!

That ratio is still staggering and speaks volumes. According to Jan Tegze's research, most leave because of unfulfilled promises from their employer, dead-end career paths, and awful bosses and colleagues. Even if you get a counteroffer that increases your pay significantly, it won't magically make you happier in your current environment.

1. Undervalued or Exploited

First reason you should deeply consider is how your employers and the management see you in the company. If it took a resignation to give you the attention and recognition you deserve, they didn't set a future for you in the company. That's a painful fact that you should accept.

The only probable reason they're countering the offer you got from another organization is their unpreparedness to lose you. Think and analyze the situation. Were you even on your employer's radar if you only got the salary increase or promotion after the resignation attempt?

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Begging the question: is their counteroffer genuine?

Think about the what-ifs:

  • What if that counteroffer buys them time to search for your replacement?
  • What if that counteroffer comes with a promotion so that you can train your replacement?

The corporate world is scary. And these strategies are proven practical ways to keep any company afloat in case a vital employee wants to leave.

2. Sour Work Relationship

After submitting your resignation letter, there's no turning back. You're already igniting the bridge between you and your employer whether you like it or not.

If you accept the counteroffer, the what-ifs above will take place. The management already has this notion that you want to leave. And it's in the best interest of their company to have a contingency plan in case you do (which you likely will -- based on the statistics I've shared above).

The already awful environment will turn bleak. See, your employers and managers will also assume that you're no longer interested in your work and that your output will deteriorate. So you have to prepare for unnecessary quality checks and micromanagement.

Worst, you have to prepare for the fact that you are their No.1 candidate in case the company needs to lay off employees during a rough patch. So don't accept your current employer's counteroffer, please!

3. Potential Reputation Damage

So far, we've only talked about you and your current employer. How about your potential employer(s)? Have you ever thought about their perception of you if you choose a counteroffer?

Potential employers may see you as someone who's unsure or one that easily accepts any offer that bids higher.

Another downside to this is if you do change your mind after a month or two from accepting a counteroffer, knocking on those potential employers' doors again won't be the same. It'll be much more challenging to convince them to hire you or consider you a candidate.

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Current Employer Counteroffer: What You Lose

Apart from what I've mentioned above, here's a list of what you lose by accepting a current employer counteroffer:

Fresh Start

Accepting a counteroffer means throwing away the opportunity to try something completely new. Even if you are applying for an identical position from a different company, you have to understand it's far from being the same.

Yes. Processes and techniques may look similar, but your environment, coworkers, bosses, and overall experience will be very different. The fact that you have to socialize and meet new people proves a new beginning.

The network you gain from a new job from another company is priceless. You'll never know where these new sets of faces will take you. Promotion. High-paying projects.

Growth

Now, you may argue that the counteroffer you accepted boosted your career because you got to hold a new title (senior position). However, we have to consider the fact again if it was a genuine promotion or if the company just doesn't want to lose you because you play a critical role. You may get a new title, but the work and responsibilities stay the same -- so is that really a new position?

By getting into a new company, growth is much more possible because the management and executives will see your performance objectively. They get to see you without any bias, and you also get the chance to prove to them your worth by bringing something new to the table.

How? In most cases, when you're new to a company, you can quickly spot process flaws and redundancies. You get to see things from outside the box. Take that opportunity to contribute more and make things more efficient, and you'll have promotions here and there.

Trust

Things will never be the same. Listen, you showed disinterest already. Moving forward, if you choose to stick with the company, getting the trust you used to have may be impossible.

Your supervisor and the senior management will see you as someone who only wants to get paid. Nothing more. And with that starting atmosphere, do you honestly think that you can work the same way again?

Some of you can, but the majority won't, especially extroverts. And if you think about it, do you think it's worth gaining your colleagues' trust back? After all, you did want to leave because you were unhappy with the environment.

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The Right Way to Decline an Employer Counteroffer

When declining a counteroffer, don't complicate it. Just politely say no. That's it.

The problem with most people is that whenever they get the opportunity to talk to their HR manager or employer, they try and renegotiate everything. They tend to ask too many questions and requests, sometimes putting the employer in a position where outright lying seems to be the best option just to make you stick around.

Again. Do not complicate things.

Look, you're leaving because you're unhappy with how things work. Your company, no matter how empathetic and sympathetic it may seem, has no intention to change how they run things just because one employee isn't satisfied.

At the end of the day, it's all business. So even if your HR promises you this and that, it's best to move on and test new waters. A graceful exit is key. Comply with all the requirements they need from you and prepare for your next professional chapter.

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Your Decision Should Be: No to Counteroffers

I know this article is strongly suggesting that all counteroffers are bad. In reality, however, some counteroffers are actually pretty good, and the company is genuinely trying to make you stay through a salary raise or promotion.

But here's the thing.

You tried leaving for a reason.

No matter how you look at it, there are more pros to getting a new job than staying in one that makes you unhappy and unrecognized for your hard work. Be bold.


Sources

Ignatius, A. (2016). Why People Quit Their Jobs. Harvard Business Review.

Adler, L. (2013). The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired. KDP.

Smart, G., & Street, R. (2008). Who. ghSMART.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 John Emerson Conde

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