Counteroffers: Should I?

Counteroffers: Should I?

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

It’s Friday afternoon. You walk into your boss’ office and ask the question that has scared many managers. “Do you have a minute?” you ask. At that moment, they know you’re resigning and if he/she wants you, they will have to fight to keep you.

“Why? We love you. Please stay! Don’t go! What do we have to do to keep you?”

You should not be amazed to receive a counteroffer after you give your notice because in times of labor shortages, the cost of replacing you can be enormous. Those costs can include:

  • The impact of stretching your colleagues while they look for a replacement
  • The cost of advertising and responding to every respondent
  • The cost of taking people away from their tasks to interview
  • The fee to a search firm
  • The cost of getting your successor “up to speed”

Yet, the question remains, should you take a counteroffer? Should you consider accepting your current company’s proposal? Here are a few things to consider:

  • What kind of company do you work for if you have to threaten to leave to get the salary you want or title you deserve? This is not a question of ego; it is recognizing that there is a message in every action or inaction a company makes. You can expect the same inertia the next time.
  • Your company may start looking for your replacement. Now that you’ve announced that you’re unhappy, your firm may start looking for a replacement that meets their timetable, rather than yours.
  • Where is the funding coming from for this? Since companies generally have guidelines for increases, are they only giving your next raise early?
  • Your loyalty will be questioned. The next time a promotion is in order and the choice is between you and “the loyal one,” who do you think will be rewarded?
  • When the next cutbacks occur, who becomes an obvious target? Good times eventually end and firms make cuts. You are an obvious target.
  • The circumstances that caused you to want to leave will reoccur. It’s like the spouse or partner who promises to act better when they are threatened by you leaving. They may act better for a while, but the old behaviors repeat themselves after the crisis disappears. As a result, (Using the spouse is an excellent example and a poor choice)
  • Statistics show that the person who accepts a counteroffer is far more likely to leave their job within a year of accepting it. Pretty grim, huh?
  • You are being “bought” to overlook other faults. Your job is frustrating, your manager is a jerk, the location is wrong, the benefits are terrible, you received a bad bonus and your colleagues are incompetent. Here are a few thousand dollars more to forget about these other things, As tempting as it may be to accept a counteroffer, you must carefully evaluate the benefits of leaving with the risks of staying. Most people are far better served by leaving, rather than staying.

At the time you decide to change jobs, write down the reasons why you want to leave. ­­I’m bored. I want to make more money. My boss is a micromanager. I want to learn something new. I want to work closer to home ­­write down the reasons and put them in a place where you can find them at the time you give notice.

Then, before giving notice, find the list and review it. Do not be seduced by the emotional response you may receive. Remember, the money they offer may only be your next raise pushed up a few months. Listen carefully to the promises that are made and remember that nothing is being put into writing; it is a desperate effort to keep someone who was taken for granted for so long and who they are now forced to remember they have underpaid, treated poorly and who they need to accomplish their objectives.


Few counteroffers should be considered, let alone accepted. I fully expect to see the consultant’s resume online again in a few months because the core issues that caused him to look for a job were not resolved


Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2006, 2012, 2016, 2021 


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