Accepting a Counter Offer – why it’s a bad career move

Ange Connor

Good employees are hard to find. Although unemployment is high, finding skilled, qualified and experienced people with the right employability skills is not easy. Which is why counter offers are so common at the moment. A counter offer is when an individual is made a “counter offer” by their current employer when they resign to take on a new job. Often the counter offer is in the form of a pay increase that matches or exceeds what the individual has been offered for the new position.

Counter offers are flattering and tempting. If you’ve ever been made a counter offer you’ll understand the emotions experienced when you receive a counter offer. You’re starry eyed, two companies want you; you feel in a position of power. It’s nice to feel wanted! Counter offers are very tempting. You’re thinking if I can get more money and stay in the job and workplace I know, it will be easier than having to start again and what if the grass isn’t greener on the other side. And that’s why so many counter offers get accepted.

It’s a mistake I see made all the time and in nearly every instance that individual is back talking to me about looking for a new job within 3 or 6 months time. Accepting a counter offer is a bad career move.

What you have to remember when weighing up if you should accept a counter offer is the reasons you started looking for another job in the first place. Yes, you might have wanted more money but more often than not there are many other reasons that motivated you to start looking for a new opportunity. Reasons I am given are there is no career progression, I’m not valued and appreciated, there has been a change of management and it doesn’t fit with my values anymore, the culture is poor, there is no challenge or variety, I’m not using my skills, I’m ready for a change, there’s no give and take or my employer is not flexible. The reasons are endless.

When you’re being tempted by the dollar signs and promises that things will change, the reasons that motivated you to start looking in the first place are what you need to remember and base your decision for accepting a counter offer on.

You need to remember the company didn’t value you enough yesterday, or last week or at your last performance appraisal to increase your salary or agree to your request for professional development or flexibility with your hours or whatever the request was. If they are succumbing to making you a counter offer now when they haven’t valued you in the past their motivations in doing so are all wrong.

An extra $5,000 or $10,000 might sound great or the promise that things will change or that they’ll sign you up for that course next time might sound great in theory but is it really going to change how you feel? The extra money might make you happy in the short term but it will only be the short term. Those other issues that have been eating away at you or frustrating you for months now will keep frustrating you in the months ahead and eventually you’ll realise that you are still in the same situation and that the extra dollars in your bank account each week don’t change your level of frustration.

There is no going back. From the minute you go in and tell your manager that you are resigning your relationship changes. Yes, they might come back to you with a counter offer but it doesn’t always mean they want to retain you for the reasons you think. No matter what, your manager will always be wondering every time you walk in to their office, is he/she going to resign, does he/she have another job offer. The trust you had in the relationship will be damaged and potentially they’ll end up feeling that they were backed in to a corner and had no choice but to make a counter offer because losing you would have meant an aspect of their business was vulnerable.

You also don’t know their motivations for making a counter offer. If they accept your resignation and it comes as a shock and they are ill prepared to handle the gap you will leave in the team, maybe they are simply counter offering you until they set themselves up to better handle your transition out of the business. Believe me it does happen, businesses have been known to counter offer simply to buy themselves time, to be able to gather the knowledge you have, put a plan in place to find a replacement and then transition you out.

High performing businesses don’t give counter offers. They’ll never be backed in to a corner where they have to increase your salary and/or meet your demands or risk losing you.

Be prepared for the counter offer when you go to resign and remember what it was that motivated you to apply for another job in the first place, weigh up what you’re being offered and don’t be dazzled by the dollars. That way you’ll ensure you’re not making a bad career move.

Have you been counter offered? What happened? Did you stay only to realise it was a mistake? I’d love to hear your experiences with counter offers and how you’ve handled the situation.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

Hand drawn outline of mobile phone, laptop, cup of tea and book from a birdseye view.
Leave A Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to get in touch

What would happen if you spent just one hour focusing on your people strategy? Contact us to book your free one hour Inspire HQ People Hour; we’ll help you assess how to build a better workplace.
Megan and Ange are sitting in the Inspire HQ boardroom talking to a man and showing him a report with DiSC in the background.
Contact Us