Counter Offer? Flattering. But, No Thanks!

What do you do when a great employee resigns?


Written by Jon Rosser


Counter Offer: When you get an offer from another company, accept that offer, resign with current employer, current employer then provides a “counter offer” trying to get you to stay.

Counter Offers are more common now than we’ve seen in years. Why?

Leverage swings back and forth between employers and candidates. Right now, it’s a candidate’s market.

It is as hard as it’s been in years to find good talent. When someone resigns, many companies resort to counter offers.

It’s a solution for employers. Not for you. It buys your employer time until you eventually leave. And, you will.

Top 10 Things To Consider If You Get a Counter Offer:

  1. Why did your employer wait until after you resigned to offer more money, perks or promotions?  They either 1) should have appreciated your efforts and talent sooner or 2) they don’t appreciate, they’re just buying time. Neither feels good, right?
  2. Is the counter offer genuine interest in specifically keeping you or are they selfishly concerned with their own situation? Their team is now short-staffed, it can take a while to find a replacement, who is going to do this work. Some companies go as far as making employees feel guilty for resigning. How could you do this to them, especially right now when it is soooo busy? Guess what, they will be fine.
  3. If business slows down and tough decisions need to be made, how will your resignation and then counter offer acceptance factor into their staffing decisions? At this point, loyalty is already a concern.
  4. Where is the increased money coming from? Your next raise? Or, will it even be paid…
  5. If they are promising more money and maybe even a promotion, is this coming in writing? Most counters are conversations full of promises with no formal obligation to see them through. I can’t tell you how many calls we’ve gotten a month after someone accepted a counter offer and nothing has changed.
  6. Why did you consider a new opportunity in the first place? In our experience, money shouldn’t be the only reason you’re looking for a new job unless you are significantly under paid. In either case, if it’s all about the money, ask for a raise before you leave. We get it, it’s not a comfortable conversation. If done the right way, the worst they can say is no. At the very least your concern is on record and can be discussed again in the future. When people look for a new opportunity and ultimately find one, there are usually a variety of reasons beyond just money. Better hours, better boss, more career growth, closer to home, etc. Does a counter offer solve these problems?
  7. If you accept a counter offer and then in a year (if you are still there) are neck in neck with a co-worker for a promotion, do you think your resignation will come into play?  Yep.
  8. Loyalty is a great attribute. Don’t let it be a detriment. Your boss takes calls from recruiters. Will he/she think twice if a great opportunity comes along? Will they consider how their departure will impact you when they’re deciding on an opportunity? You should be fair and reasonable to your employer. But, at the end of the day, even your bosses are thinking about what is best for their own careers and families.
  9. Counter Offers are short-term fixes for both sides. It won’t fix why you were looking to leave in the first place. Employers buy time to consider replacements. It keeps a boss from being temporarily short-staffed. It’s a band-aid. Statistics show you will likely be resigning again within the year if you aren’t replaced sooner.
  10. Lastly, the best companies don’t make counter offers. While they might be sad to see you go, they support your continued career growth. They might even ask questions, listen, and learn a little more about why you decided to leave.

Hiring a new employee?

This topic is important for you as well. A lot can happen between the accepted offer and their first day of work. Be sure you’re keeping in touch. Get them out to lunch. Keep them engaged and excited about your opportunity.

In fact, here’s a New-Hire Checklist!