A Rock and a Hard Place: 4 Reasons to Rethink a Counter Offer

Job-hunting is a stressful process. It’s hard to juggle all of the searches and interviews with everything else in your life, especially if your current job is still in the mix, so when you finally find the right fit, of course you feel proud and excited! Why shouldn’t you? It’s no easy feat getting to this point. However, there is still one very important step left: informing your boss of your resignation. This in itself can be a challenge, but it also gives your boss the opportunity to present a counter offer. What should you do? Stick to your guns and move forward with the new position or accept the counter and stay put?

I’ve seen this situation occur numerous times over the course of my recruiting career and seen the stress it puts candidates under, and I would like to share my advice on the situation. While counter offers may work in certain cases, more often than not they don’t present any viable solutions. If anything, they tend to create even more problems that will put you in the exact same position within a year but without as many opportunities. Here are four reasons why counter offers may not be all they are cracked up to be:

It doesn’t actually solve the problem

There is a reason you’re leaving your current job, and, it probably isn’t based solely on salary. Whether you’re unhappy because of the relationship with your boss or lack of passion, accepting a pay raise or promotion isn’t going to fix the issue. Sure, it might seem nice now, but think about it: is it really going to be enough to keep you at this company for the rest of your career? Chances are those same issues that have you inching toward the door now will creep back up on you later on down the road.

It might affect the trust

You just signaled to your boss that you’re no longer happy working for the company and would rather be working elsewhere, so your loyalty will be in question from this point forward. Why would your boss give you that big, career-defining project when he or she feels you could be out the door at any point in time? Accepting a counter offer can affect future raises, promotions, or important projects, and, when it comes time for layoffs, you might find yourself at the top of the list.

It may impair relationships

Your coworkers and managers are no longer going to see you as a team player. They may assume you are willing to leave the company for a better opportunity at a moment’s notice and aren’t going to depend on you for as much. You may have to work twice as hard to rebuild those relationships, which can be a daunting task, and if things don’t work out, this could lead to feelings of isolation and unhappiness.

Sometimes it’s more about the boss

Your boss is about to lose a key employee and have a gap in the company. Who’s going to finish your projects? How will it affect operations? There are so many things going through your boss’s mind that could potentially reflect poorly on him or her, and, unfortunately, your happiness is probably not at the top of the list. Your boss is going to see this as a burden on him or her and might only be offering you the raise to give the company enough time to find a replacement.

Counter offers are nice, but the most important thing to consider when faced with one is the reason you began your job search in the first place. Think back to what got you looking in the first place. If the problem could have been remedied by a simple raise or promotion, then you would have asked for one. The reality is that, while counter offers are flattering, they usually don’t solve the underlying issues that caused you to look for a new job in the first place and may just make those issues worse.