Accepting a counter offer is career suicide and statistically those who accept them are gone within 24 months. Although it feels good when you have two companies who want you, just remember the reasons you were leaving in the first place and why you began job searching in the first place. Your resignation is an inconvenience to your employer, you have betrayed their trust, your boss feels that you have fired him or her and they are probably offering you a counter offer to buy themselves time.

Why accepting a counter offer is career suicide

Although “career suicide” seems too alarmist, let me begin with a story.

Fifteen years ago, I sat in a client’s office and he pointed through the window of his office at an employee. “I need you to do a confidential search to replace that person”. I asked why and he replied “because we can’t trust him we just had to pay him $15 000.00 and two extra weeks holidays to keep him” At this point I asked the obvious question. Why would they counter offer a candidate who they did not trust and six months later chose to replace?
The answer was what fifteen years later has continued to be my experience. They were in the middle of a crucial IT Infrastructure project and could not afford to lose him. Once the project was complete however, they did not feel that he was the right fit for the organization. He had betrayed their trust by job searching and forcing a counter offer during a time when their hands were tied. Losing him during the project would have cost the company too much in knowledge transfer, downtime and ramping up a new hire so they paid him to stay while they were in a crunch.

Over and over I have heard similar stories from clients and candidates and I am here to say as soon as you decide to leave a company and accept a job offer from another employer you must move on.
To accept a counter offer is suicide and statistically you will be gone within 24 months if you do accept that offer.

1. Often clients believe that you are using your job offer as a bargaining chip as does your new employer that has offered you the new job
2. Your current employer will have lingering feelings of your disloyalty
3. If you did not discuss and resolve issues before the counter offer clients feel you are dishonest and wonder why you never brought your issues up before going out to find a new job.
4. Re-gaining trust is difficult after a counter offer
5. The reasons you were leaving in the first place may not go away
6. Clients believe if you strayed once you will stray again and often immediately start looking for a back-up candidate
7. If your co-workers or subordinates find out that you were going to leave they may also lose trust in you and in your commitment to them

My clients have offered counter offers in the past for the following reasons:

1. Inconvenient timing
2. Already short staffed and afraid of admitting to retention issues
3. Knowing that another candidate will cost more and take time to train
4. Due to a lack of an knowledge transfer, Candidate has a great deal of the companies IP
5. Ego is hurt when losing an employee to a competitor
6. Client realizes that there are issues and believes they can be resolved and truly wants candidate to remain
If you are considering a counter offer, be honest and upfront with yourself.

Why did it take your resignation for your employer to consider your needs?
Will changes make your current position as interesting and fulfilling as the new opportunity?
What were your reasons for leaving in the first place?
Write down the pros and cons of staying and the pros and cons of leaving and leave your ego out of it.
Will money or promises really make a difference in your level of job satisfaction?

The counter offer must address all of your needs and deal head on with your issues in every way or I guarantee you will be looking again in six months and wishing that you accepted that great job. I can also guarantee that your boss is keeping an eye on you and considering other candidates for your job just in case you stray again.