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Responding to a Counter Offer: Should I Accept or Reject?

October 07, 2015

You have just accepted a position with another company and told your current boss, only to have him/her present you with a counter offer to make you stay—what should you do?

If you have accepted a position at another company because you are dissatisfied with your current situation, be mindful that once you tell your current boss, he/she could present a counter offer. A counter offer is an attempt by your current boss to keep you around, through a pay raise, a more flexible schedule, promotion, etc. Though it might be tempting to stick to a company you have grown comfortable with, be mindful that counter offers have some serious drawbacks—which makes accepting or declining one a very difficult decision.

Advantages of accepting a counter offer

There are some obvious reasons why you would want to accept a counter offer, which might include:

  • Financial/ Other incentive- If the main reason you started to look for other jobs stemmed from your dissatisfaction with your compensation, a counter offer for higher pay could be a great opportunity for you to stay at a company you have grown comfortable with. Similarly, if your current boss offers you a promotion, it will be tempting to accept an invitation to advance in the company you know.
  • Comfort- Starting a new job can be stressful, so being offered a new and improved version of your old job can be tempting. You already have a relationship with your boss and co-workers, you know your way around the office, etc.
  • Satisfying the boss- Walking in to your boss’ office to tell him/her that you have accepted another job will be a tough conversation, because your position will likely be tough to fill. Accepting an attractive counter offer can be a good way of clearing the air and showing the boss that you value both your position at the company and your relationship with him/her.

Drawbacks of accepting

Even though a counter offer might seem like a validation of your value within the company that the boss cannot afford to lose, take note of some drawbacks before you accept the offer:

  • Your boss will lose trust and respect in you. As soon as your boss finds out that you have been looking at other companies, his/her trust in you will most likely be changed.
  • You could solely be a temporary place holder for your replacement. By accepting the counter offer, you could simply be giving your employer a little time to find a replacement for you.
  • You could lose your chance of promotion. Once your employer realizes that you are questioning your position within the company, you could lose any chance of advancement within the company (provided that a promotion was not part of the counter offer).
  • You could lose your chance of a better position somewhere else. Once you accept the counter offer, you will lose the chance of a fresh start at a new company. Remember that your current boss could only keep you around shortly after the counter offer—you will surely regret not taking the other position if this is the case!

Every employee wants to be valued, and though a counter offer might seem like a promising offer and a validation of your value within the company, be mindful of the serious risks involved. Think hard about why you considered leaving the company in the first place—will a raise or other incentives really make things better—or simply more tolerable?

Questions? Contact the KLR Executive Search Group, LLC.

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