Why It's Never a Good Idea to Accept a Counter Offer

All of us get to a point in our careers, perhaps several times, when we consider accepting a new position. You may become discontent in your current role and see no path for advancement. You may decide that you want to move in a different direction in your career and that opportunity is not available with your current employer. You may feel that your work is not recognized or appreciated. You may feel that the company you work for is stalled or has a culture that is not comfortable to work in. You may feel that you are not being compensated fairly for your work relative to the job market. All of these are valid reasons to consider taking a new position in your industry.

Whether you go out and seek a role or whether you are recruited, you will have a chance to see an organization and a new culture that brings new possibilities for your future.

You consider the new position very carefully and decide whether it solves the problem and offers you the opportunity you are seeking. Before you give notice to resign your current position, you must be prepared to encounter powerful, persuasive tactics from your current employer to try to change your mind.

If you work in the technology field, this is happening more often than it ever has in the past. Unemployment in certain sectors of the technology industry is at zero, and replacing you may be a very costly and time-consuming proposition for your old employer. So, it’s more likely than ever that you may receive a counter offer when you go in to give notice to an employer. This may take the form of a large compensation increase that you had been asking for but never received. This may include changes to your benefits package, a new title and promises to change the things that made you discontent in your current job.

Moss Search has been recruiting in the technology industry for more than 20 years. During that time, several candidates whom we have represented have received counter offers. In our experience, most candidates who accept counteroffers leave their positions within six months. Once you go to your current employer and give notice, they know you are unhappy and will regard you as a business problem to be solved. They want to buy time to arrange a replacement or they may want to keep a critical project that you are working on up to speed.

Statistics show that over 90% of candidates that accept counteroffers leave that employer within six months.

We all feel loyalty to the companies that we work for. We make friendships and we bond with the people on our teams. That is to be expected; it’s what makes us good employees in the first place. Your current employer will often choose to play on your emotions and loyalty to get you to stay.

The key thing to consider is that the real reasons that made you decide to make a job change will not go away. You actually have a lot of information about this because you’ve worked for the company, you know what the managers and culture are like, and you know whether or not they keep their promises. Once you accept a counter offer, your loyalty and commitment to that employer will always be questioned and under scrutiny. If they didn’t pay you what you were worth before you gave notice, why are they offering to do it now? If they did not offer you opportunities for career growth, why would they do it now?

Companies that make counter offers are often companies that have dysfunctional cultures. It sends a very bad message to other employees in the company when they see colleagues walking into a manager's office and getting a counter offer and a raise. Companies with good cultures that are managed properly don’t force their employees to go to that extreme to be recognized and rewarded for their hard work.

So think carefully about your job change. Ask good questions. Rely on the recruiter that you are working with to help you, and make sure that they get you timely, complete answers to your questions. When you make a decision to leave your current employer to accept a new offer, trust that decision.