Never accept a counter-offer

I guess we all have experienced a job change at least once. There might be different reasons to change the job; new opportunities, better salary, problems with coworkers and so on. I call it a trigger of a change. When it triggers, it’s hard to stop and there are two possible scenarios afterwards

  • You start looking for a new job
  • New job starts looking for you

Sooner or later the moment comes, you get an offer which is so attractive that you feel crazy (or stupid) to reject. After accepting an offer, you suddenly remember about this thing which is called resignation meeting. You remember your good relationships with your current employer and start to prepare resignation letter late evening.

Sometimes, given you have been a good employee, your current company may give you a counter-offer. This could happen even momentarily during the meeting. Of course, they will give you time to think and you will respond with appreciation and promise to answer as soon as possible. In fact, you should always be prepared for it. I find counter-offer quite dangerous, actually. By saying you have to be prepared for it, I meant that you should never accept a counter offer.

“You will earn twice more, you will get a promotion, you will get public transport ticket, you will get FREE SNACKS!”

Let’s take an example and say that some Problem A has triggered a need of change. As you are a good employee you have tried already to solve the problem (e.g. you asked for more money or you tried to change the process), you failed. Now, all of a sudden Problem A gets solved in just some 10 minutes. Why wasn’t it solved before? How long will it take until this kind of a Problem B will appear? When Problem B comes, it’s going to hit harder. Things won’t change.

What about a scenario, when there isn’t any reason/problem at all? When all you have is just a feeling of a need for a change. We are all human beings, and not all our actions are rational, so even a feeling which you can’t explain may trigger that need. The reality gets much harder in such cases. People don’t expect from a guy who is almost invaluable to come one day and say “I am leaving you guys because I have a weird feeling”. When it’s all about a feeling, things are hardly going to change even with a great counteroffer, so staying in the same place because now you have a free public transport ticket is just an apathy. That feeling will stalk you forever, it will make the relationship between you and your employer worse and there will be no winning side.

I have seen surveys showing that majority of the employees who accepted a counter-offer are leaving the company after an average of 15 months. There are always exceptions, even more, there are cases when accepting a counter-offer is a right decision (your cat dies and you need bunch of money to save her).

Unless it’s not an exception - here is the answer for a counter-offer which you should give

“No, thanks”


There have been a lot of comments in HN regards the topic so I’d like to clarify few points.

  • I’m not a recruiter. I’m don’t have any relations to neither a recruting agency nor an individual recruiter. What you read is purely my personal opinion.
  • My opinion is not based on the mentioned sources, I’ve linked them as an additional source for thought. You can take a look at this discussion for more insights regarding such surveys.
  • Many commenters wrote that if you’re happy with your current job and the counter-offer gives you a salary raise you should accept it and stay there with a higher salary. I think if you’re happy with your current job and the salary is the only thing you’re unhappy with, you shouldn’t be looking for a new job in the first place. You need to communicate with your manager and ask for a pay raise. But if you’ve done so and received no raise, and only got it after you’ve threatened to leave, that’s when I’d think that if other issues rise they also won’t be met until you go through an entire recruitment process at another company and prepare to leave.
Written on October 2, 2016