Counter Offers

...and Do you Really Want to Find Another Job?

Resigning from your job is a serious matter and will probably negatively affect your relationship with your current employer if you then chose to accept a counter offer and stay. If your dissatisfaction with your employer can be resolved, then we suggest you attempt to resolve it.  If you can't resolve those issues, but are really not prepared for the disruption of changing jobs, then maybe it is best to accept the situation and make the best of it. If you  really don’t want to leave your company, then why bother looking for another job?

On the other hand, if you are convinced you would be happier somewhere else, then stay convinced and do it.  Find the company and position that meets your career and personal goals, accept the job offer, and carry through with it.  Don't let the quick, but admittedly uncomfortable, act of telling your boss you are resigning alter your long term goals. Your recruiter can give you guidance on how to present your resignation to your boss, making it quick and relatively stress free.

We are not recommending that you never accept a counter offer, but suggest that you strongly consider the pros and cons of resigning and then accepting a counter offer.  Our advice is to make, or not make, the commitment to change jobs before you embark upon a job search and stick with your convictions.

If you are a valuable resource, then your boss and your company won’t want to see you walk out the door, especially to the competition. They may make every attempt to convince you to stay, either by:

  • Making you a counter offer
  • Making you feel incredibly guilty and disloyal
  • Lovin’ you like they’ve never ‘loved’ you before – be suspicious of this

An attractive counter offer is instantly good for your ego but you must take a number of things into consideration before saying “thanks” or “no thanks.”

Much research and many surveys have been completed over the years to measure what happens to employees who accept counter offers. Only 6 out of 100 employees are still with their company after 12 months, and some important points become apparent:

  • Salary was hardly ever the prime motivator for resigning – more money didn’t ultimately change the reasons the person found another job and resigned.   Besides, sometimes subsequent pay raises may be less to "make up" for the temporarily increased pay.
  • Despite what your employer is saying to you, they will probably now consider you a risk and may make contingency plans without your knowledge. You may not be seen as a true member of the team and  your loyalty may be questioned, far into the future.  Potentially, that next promotion may go to someone else because your boss is worried that you are still looking for another job anyway.
  • Sometimes people chosen for the next staff reduction are those whom the boss thinks may be looking for another job.
  • Sometimes the counter offer is simply a way to get you to stay for awhile, and the boss immediately initiates a confidential search for your replacement as he thinks you are no  longer loyal, a flight risk, and probably will not stay much longer anyway.  Once that replacement is identified, you might be terminated.
  • Things often do not take long to return to the way they were before the resignation.  If you were unhappy with how the boss or coworkers treat you, or the perceived future of the company, or your responsibilities/authority, how will a simple pay increase or promises of "we'll make changes to make you feel better" change that?
  • You may have only received a counter offer because you resigned. It is a purely reactive tactic from your employer and should make you wonder whether you need to resign every time you want to improve your situation. If your employer thought you were truly worthy and wants you to stay, why didn’t they improve your situation anyway rather than wait for you to resign?
  • Before accepting a counter offer, ask yourself why your employer has made the offer. There is a strong possibility that the cons will outweigh the pros and you will realize that your decision to resign was right after all.

Some of the more common thoughts that the boss (who is probably thinking of himself, not you) may have are:

  • He’s one of my best performers. How am I supposed to replace him, keep the team together, and achieve budget?  
  • What inconvenient timing – I was about to go on annual leave for 3 weeks
  • How am I going to look to the board/senior management for losing this person?
  • Where is he going?
  • Can I get her to stay until I find a replacement and have an effective hand over?
  • How can I get her to stay?