How to Handle a Counter-Offer?

12 Jun 2022


You managed to land a new job-polish your resume, do well in an interview, get a job for a great new role, and tell your leader that you will leave the company. After submitting your resignation, then your employer will come back with a counter offer designed to seduce you to stay. This is a popular tactic among employers. Up to 50% of withdrawn candidates receive a counter offer. Then, what should you do? 

A lot of people would advise you to reject the counteroffers. According to statistics, up to 80% of people who accept counter offers will leave their current employer within 6 months and 9 out of 10  within a year. However, the decision is not always easy, and no matter how compelling the offer is, you need to consider what is right for you in the long run.

What is a Counter-Offer?

A counter offer is an offer that is made in response to another offer. In a hiring scenario, it is the employer's offer to prevent a good employee from leaving the company, usually, after the employee submits his resignation. Counter offers are designed to reconsider your dismissal and usually promise a salary increase or promotion.

Employers tend to make counter-offers for the following reasons:

  • To maintain employee knowledge of the company, customers, and processes
  • To minimize the costs of hiring and training a replacement.
  • To avoid transferring extra workload to other members of the team.
  • To maintain employee morale and team relationships.

The Potential Pitfalls of Staying

There are several reasons that the best option might be to stick with the job offer for your new role.

  • Your main reason for leaving is the work culture. No amount of pay hike, compensations, and training opportunities is worth staying if the work environment is not right for you.
  • The only offer is an increase in salary. On balance, your future career growth is at least as important, if not more so, than short term financial gain.
  • You do not have a good relationship with your manager. Your intent to resign may create resentment and a lack of trust even if you choose to stay. Eventually, you could be passed over for promotions or training opportunities if your manager feels you aren’t fully committed to a long-term career at the company.
  • The reason the employer is counter-offering is just to avoid the hassle of finding a replacement for you. If you feel that you’re being asked to stay just to cut down on hiring costs and not because they value and appreciate you, it might be best to head for the exit.

How to Handle a Counter-Offer

Whatever your reasons are for resigning, avoid accepting or rejecting a counter-offer straight away. Here are some tips for dealing with a counter-offer.

  • Speak to your manager and check out the terms of the offer.
    Go directly to your manager, and find out why they want to keep you. Is it because you are valued or is it just to avoid turnover costs? You don’t need to decide right there and then - ask for a day or two to think it over. Take some time to consider their proposal so that you can be confident you’re making the right decision, whichever way you go.
  • Compare the offer with your new job offer.
    Assess the strength of the counter-offer, and compare it with the offer from your prospective employer. Look at more than just the salary and benefits. Consider which company will help you to develop your career in the long term. Where can you develop most? Which offers more opportunities for progression? Also, consider which company best aligns with your values; company culture and vision is an important factor as they can affect how engaged, motivated and happy you are at work.
  • Speak to your Recruitment Consultant
  • If you’re using a Recruiter, let them know about the counter-offer as soon as possible. They’ll have been through this process plenty of times before with other candidates and can give you their professional opinion on what else you need to consider. It’s in their interest to help you make the right decision, as their client will be looking for candidates who want to stay long term and progress within their company, not leave after a few months and go back to their old employer.
  • Revisit your reasons for leaving.
    Most counter-offers include salary increases, but money is usually not the main reason someone quits their job. Many people are looking for employment elsewhere to balance better work and life, gain more experience and responsibilities, and be in a more dynamic work environment. Ask yourself why you were looking for a new job and see if you have what you need for a counter offer.
  • Listen to your inner voice.
    You’re probably familiar with the advice to ‘go with your gut’ or ‘trust your intuition'. This applies when finding a new job, too. Although you should be methodical when assessing the pros and cons of the counter-offer versus the new job offer you’ve accepted. But if there’s a nagging feeling that staying isn’t the right thing to do, then leaving is the best decision. Whether it was down to the lack of inspirational leadership, opportunities that are few and far between, or subtle office politics, your inner voice was telling you to leave and look for another job, so if you ignore it, it could cost you in the future.
  • Make your Decision
    Whether it's best to stay or leave depends on your unique circumstances, from career goals to financial needs. Eventually, you are the one who knows what is best for you and your career. Tell your current employer and recruiter or new employer as soon as you decide what to do.


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