Why You Should Never Accept a Counteroffer When Resigning

Black man sitting in front of a computer at a desk with his hands on his head in frustration

Searching for a new job while still employed is not an uncommon practice, especially when you’re unhappy working for your current employer.

If you’re fortunate enough to get an offer from a new employer where you think you’ll be happier the decision to leave can still feel like a big leap of faith.

What’s important to remember is that when resigning from one job to move on to another, your current employer may come back with a counteroffer to try to get you to stay.

While there are many reasons an employer may extend a counteroffer after you reisgn, there are even more reasons to decline the counteroffer, which we detail below.

What is a counteroffer?

In terms of employment, a counter offer is an offer made to an employee in response to an initial offer they received from a new potential employer.

In other words, it’s when your employer tries to keep you from resigning by making a competing offer that they hope is more attractive than the one you’ve already accepted.

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Why do companies make counter offers?

One of the more dubious reasons is that employers may sometimes use counteroffers as a tactic to buy them time to find your replacement while you consider their offer.

Some other reasons companies make counter offers include:

  • Your departure may have come as a surprise to them
  • They want to try to salvage the situation to save face
  • They’re worried about how your resignation will impact morale
  • They’re concerned about their ability to meet deadlines and goals
  • The cost of your raise is less than the cost of hiring someone new

Reasons why you might accept a counteroffer

  • You may feel guilty about leaving
  • You may have been with the company for a long time and feel a sense of loyalty
  • The new position may be less certain than your current one
  • The pay raise or other benefits being offered may be significant
  • You may be worried about the impact your resignation will have on your current team
  • You’re comfortable in your position and unsure you can achieve success in a new role

While these are all valid concerns, they shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether or not to quit your job or accept a counteroffer.

Why you should never accept a counteroffer when resigning

1. Your loyalty will be questioned

If you accept a counteroffer from your current employer after already accepting another offer, it will likely damage your relationship with both your current and future employers.

This is because when an employee resigns it’s usually taken as a sign that they’re unhappy with their current situation and are looking for something new — so if you go back on your word and decide to stay, your employer may question your loyalty and commitment.

2. It could be a sign that they don’t value you

If your current employer only makes you a counteroffer after you’ve handed in your notice, it could be a sign that they don’t really value or appreciate you as an employee.

If they truly valued your contribution to the company, they would have made an effort to keep you happy in your current role so you wouldn’t have looked for a new job — especially in the age of the Great Resignation.

3. You might not be getting the whole story

When you’re considering a counteroffer it’s important to get all the facts and ask yourself whether or not you’re being given the whole story.

Your employer may try to make the counteroffer seem more attractive by promising things like a raise or promotion, but these things may not be guaranteed — and even if they are, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive them in the timeframe you want or that they’ll actually make you happy in your current role.

4. More money for the same headaches

If you’re leaving your job because you’re unhappy with the current situation, more money isn’t going to change that.

In fact, accepting a counteroffer could just mean delaying the inevitable and prolonging your unhappiness.

It’s also important to remember that if you do accept a counteroffer, you’ll be sending a message to your employer that you’re willing to be bought — and they may start low-balling you in the future or taking advantage of your loyalty.

5. The company culture stays the same

Even if your employer makes some changes in an attempt to keep you happy, the company culture is likely to stay the same.

If you weren’t happy with it before, there’s a good chance you won’t be happy with it down the road.

Additionally, your co-workers may resent you for trying to negotiate a better deal or for being given special treatment, which could make going to work every day even more unpleasant.

6. You’ve been underpaid

If you’re offered a raise in order to stay with your current employer, it could be a sign that you were being underpaid to begin with.

If this is the case, it’s likely that your dissatisfaction with your salary was one of the main reasons you were looking for a new job in the first place.

If you do accept a counteroffer, there’s no guarantee that your salary will stay at the new, higher level in the long run.

7. If things were going to change they would have already

If you’re considering a counteroffer because you’re hoping things will change at your current job, it’s important to remember the fact that you felt the need to look for a new job in the first place is usually a sign that something about the situation isn’t working.

It’s likely that you’ve already asked for a raise or more responsibility and less micromanagement and didn’t get them — or that you work for an employer with whom you don’t feel comfortable expressing your needs. Either way, it’s time to move on.

8. Your future employer sees your value

When you’ve already accepted a new job, your future employer has made it clear that they see your value and are willing to pay what you’re worth.

If you go back on your word and decide to stay with your current employer, it sends a message that you’re not reliable.

Your future employer may start to question whether or not they made the right decision in hiring you.

9. Taking risks leads to professional growth

While it may be scary to leave a comfortable situation — or simply one you’re used to — sometimes taking risks is necessary for professional growth.

Leaving your current job — even if it means going into uncharted territory — could lead to new opportunities and experiences that you never would have had if you’d stayed put.

10. Working for a new employer could improve your wellbeing 

It’s not always about the money — when it comes to employment, there’s more to consider than just salary. If you’re unhappy in your current role, chances are it’s affecting other areas of your life as well.

Making a change could improve your well-being in both your professional and personal life, and it may be worth considering even if it doesn’t come with a bigger paycheck.

Statistics on accepting a counteroffer

• 50% of candidates are presented with counteroffers when they resign.
• 57% of those candidates accept.
• 80% of those who accept counters are terminated or quit within 6 months.
• 90% are gone within 12 months.
• 50% of those who accept a counteroffer are actively looking for a new job within 2 months.

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The final verdict on accepting counteroffers

In the end, it’s important to remember that accepting a counteroffer is a big decision — and one that shouldn’t be made lightly.

While it may be tempting to stay at your current job for a little longer, the cons of accepting a counteroffer usually outweigh the pros.

All things considered, it’s usually best to decline a counteroffer and stick with your original decision to leave.

Looking for your next gig? Let us help.

Every year, Mondo helps over 2,000 candidates find jobs they love.

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