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Counteroffers: What do they mean, and what should you do?

Goodwin Recruiting | | November 17, 2020

Counteroffers - What do they mean, and what should you do_

Deciding to leave your job is never something you should undertake lightly. It’s a lot of work to look for a new job. It takes hours of poring through job boards, speaking to recruiters and hiring managers, completing applications, and interviewing. But when it is time to leave, you know it in your gut.

Finally, you will have an offer in hand for a position you are truly excited about. But when you give your formal notice to your current employer, including your resignation letter, you need to be prepared…for a counteroffer.

What is a counteroffer?

A counteroffer is when your current employer, the one you are presently handing your two weeks’ notice to, decides to persuade you to stay, with tactics such as a pay raise, promotion, or other incentives that may have led you to look for a new job in the first place.

Counteroffers, on the surface, can be very flattering and can seem like a wonderful opportunity. It often provides the validation you’ve been seeking from an employer who rarely showed that kind of appreciation in the past. Otherwise, why would you be looking? But such offers are like a Trojan Horse, impressive on the outside but hidden with danger on the inside.

What to consider when you receive a counteroffer

Here are a few important things to keep in mind when you receive a counteroffer:

  • Think about why you decided to look for a new position in the first place: disorganization, an uninspiring work environment, lack of opportunities for growth, poor compensation, work-life balance issues, lack of recognition, or a failing company. It is not likely that any of that has changed enough to make a true impact.
  • Companies usually view employees who have received and decided to accept job offers from other companies as disloyal. It will be difficult to be viewed as trustworthy moving forward. Like it or not, there’s now a target on your back.
  • A counteroffer is generally a quick fix to bide time while the employer begins looking for a replacement – someone who can come in for less money, is not yet jaded, and who didn’t betray them.
  • Why did it take a threat to leave for your current employer to compensate you properly and show you the true value of your hard work?

It is tempting to consider accepting a counteroffer. Change is difficult and uncomfortable. If you stay where you are, you won’t have to learn new skills or spend time navigating new personalities. The risk that you might not be as successful at the new company as you are at your current company can creep in easily.

Do not sell yourself short. You have a great new offer on the table because you provide value to a new organization that wants you to be part of the team, and this is an exciting time.

What should I know if I am considering taking a counteroffer?

Really consider the long-term consequences of your decision. Companies present counteroffers to keep their intellectual property from walking out the door. This is about them, not you.

  • You will be under constant scrutiny if you stay. Time off will be questioned, as people wonder if you are out interviewing again.
  • Your less expensive replacement will be sought out as your employer knows you were unhappy enough to consider leaving.

There are a lot of articles out there on counteroffers, and none of them recommend accepting one. In fact, you will find statistics that show that people who do accept a counteroffer rarely remain at their workplace for any significant period of time afterward. They either quit because the things that made them want to leave the first time still make them want to leave, or they are let go because their employer just kept them around long enough to find a replacement. Either way, you still lose and are too quickly back out on the job market.

How do I decline a counteroffer?

The best way to decline a counteroffer is to do so directly and respectfully. Now is not the time to burn any bridges or air your grievances. If you have constructive feedback, save it for your exit interview. Simply tell your boss that while you appreciate the offer and consideration, it is time to move on to a new opportunity. You may want to thank them for your time in the role or any specific skills you enhanced while in the role.

Once you find a new job, be prepared when you make your decision to give your notice. As tempting as it may seem, the counteroffer is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Hold your head high and be strong. Write a resignation letter, have the appropriate conversations with your boss and team, and finish your time with professionalism. You’ll be avoiding a major landmine and a circular path back to the arduous job search by sticking to your decision.

Goodwin Recruiting is here for you!

With over 20 years in the recruiting business and recognized as one of Forbes America’s Best Recruiting Firms 2020Goodwin Recruiting is a full-service recruiting agency that was founded in hospitality. As we have expanded into various industries, that hospitality and service mentality has remained rooted at our core. Each Goodwin Recruiting partner is an expert in his or her field. We speak your language, we put our core values first, and we establish game-changing partnerships with employers and job seekers alike.