Counter Offers - how do you deal with them?Things to Consider When Presented with a Counter Offer

Counter offers are a common occurrence in the broader job market. They typically arise when a person, poised to leave for a new opportunity, receives an offer from their current employer to stay. This scenario presents unique things to consider for both the job seeker and the prospective employer and there are some sobering statistics around why counter offers ultimately fail to retain your services.

There are many reasons for this to happen, some are positive and some are not, what we would like to focus on in this article is how you should deal with them if/when they are presented.

Advice for the Job Seeker

Evaluate it properly

When presented with a counter offer, it’s crucial for the job seeker to assess not just the immediate benefits, but also the long-term implications. This includes understanding the reasons behind the offer and whether it aligns with one’s career aspirations. While it can seem flattering, it is important to not allow this feeling to steer your decision. In nearly every situation, a counter-offer is a fast response to an unexpected event – you submitting your notice.

Consider, for example, if the initial decision to leave was due to limited career progression, does the counter offer convincingly address this? It’s vital to review the offer’s components – salary, role enhancement, additional responsibilities, and perhaps training opportunities. Can you compare the two options in front of you from an outsider’s perspective to assess which is the choice that aligns with your chosen career direction and reasons for moving in the first place?

Weighing Pros and Cons

Weighing up the pros and cons goes beyond a simple comparison of job specs. It involves a bit of introspection about what you really want. For instance, a salary increase might seem appealing, but if the root cause of unhappiness was a stifling work environment or a lack of recognition, will a financial boost alone remedy these issues? It’s about figuring out whether the counter offer truly fixes the reasons for wanting to leave or does it just put a temporary veneer over persistent issues. Job seekers should consider the broader picture including the potential for professional growth, the quality of management, and the cultural environment of the workplace.

Long-Term Career Goals and Growth Opportunities

Long-term career goals should be at the front of this too. Think about whether staying with your current employer will help or hinder these goals. Does the counter offer present a path to new skills, expanding your professional network, or advancing to higher roles? It’s also important to consider the sincerity of the offer: is it a genuine attempt to retain a valued employee by aligning their career path with the company’s growth, or a stop-gap measure to prevent immediate disruption?

Perspective of the Employers (existing and new)

Reasons for Making a Counter Offer

As an employer, when you’re chasing a candidate and they’ve accepted your offer in principle, at some point they will have to hand their notice into their current employer. If they are valuable employees (and they should be if you’re trying to hire them!), their employers will likely counter-offer.

There is no way to prevent a company from presenting a counter-offer, but you can prepare the candidate for it. For example, here at Sourced, we make sure that all of our candidates are aware a counter-offer could be made, and give advice on how best to deal with it during their first interview with us.

Sometimes a counter-offer is simply too good to turn down, or it genuinely addresses the candidate’s key reasons for leaving. In these situations there is not much that can be done, so providing you have put your best offer forward in the first instance, it’s best to move on.

How to deal with one of your Employees resigning

If you’re in the unfortunate situation of having one of your employees hand their notice in, it can often feel like you have very little time to react. This is largely true as the employee will expect you to accept their resignation almost instantly. If you would like to retain them, simply ask for 24 hours to come back to them with a response. There is no need to mention a counter-offer – simply ask for the time so that you can carefully evaluate your options.

Many accepted counter-offers only prolong the employee’s decision to leave, so ensure you are clear on whether a counter-offer is to avoid short-term pain or if you truly would like the employee to remain with your business. The worst case scenario is to retain talent only to have them become increasingly demotivated with the situation.

It pays to also look on the positive side of an employee leaving. Though it may result in additional costs and stress, it provides the opportunity to bring fresh, new, motivated talent into your business. It also gives you the chance to conduct an exit interview, which you can use to gain some valuable insights into how your business could be improved to retain other talented employees.

Helpful Resources

For further insights and perspectives on this topic, consider exploring:


Q1: Is it a good sign if an employer makes a counter offer?

A counter offer can be interpreted as a positive sign, showing that your employer values your contributions and is keen to keep you. It reflects your importance within the organisation and their recognition of your skills and achievements. However, it’s also important to consider why the counter offer is being made. Is it a genuine effort to address your concerns and career aspirations, or a reactive measure to avoid the inconvenience of replacing you? Assessing the motivations behind the counter offer is as crucial as the offer itself.

Q2: How should I negotiate a counter offer?

Negotiating a counter offer requires a tactful yet straightforward approach. First, clearly understand your own priorities and what you want from the negotiation, whether it’s a salary increase, better work-life balance, or career progression opportunities. Communicate these needs clearly and respectfully. Be prepared to discuss specific reasons why you believe these changes are neccessary. It’s also important to show appreciation for the counter offer and to maintain a professional demeanour throughout the negotiation process. Remember, negotiation is not just about making demands but also about finding a mutually beneficial solution.

Q3: Can accepting a counter offer affect my career negatively?

Accepting a counter offer can have mixed implications on your career. On one hand, it might lead to better $$ and job satisfaction if the offer aligns well with your career goals. On the other hand, it could potentially harm your reputation within the current organisation, as some employers might question your loyalty or commitment. There’s also a risk that the reasons you wanted to leave might not be fully resolved, leading to continued unhappiness. It’s important to ensure that the offer genuinely addresses your concerns and contributes positively to your career path.

Q4: How common are counter offers in today’s job market?

Counter offers have become increasingly common in today’s competitive job market. Employers are more aware of the costs and challenges associated with recruiting and training new staff, especially in high-demand industries. As a result, many companies are more inclined to make counter offers to retain valuable employees. This trend reflects the shifting dynamics of the workplace, where skilled employees often have more leverage and negotiation power.

Q5: Should I discuss a counter offer with my prospective employer?

Discussing a counter offer with a prospective employer is a delicate matter and should be approached with discretion. If bring it up, do so in a way that communicates your commitment to making an informed career decision. It’s important to avoid giving the impression that you’re using the counter offer simply as a bargaining chip. Instead, frame the discussion in a manner that underscores your value and professionalism.  You can express your genuine interest in understanding how the new opportunity aligns with your career objectives.

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