Should a candidate accept a counteroffer? Based on my vast experience in recruiting, working with both clients and candidates, I would say “No!” Some may say that every situation is unique and you can’t generalize, but I disagree. You may be wondering why I have this opinion. Here are a few reasons.

Fear of Loss

Think about it from the boss’s perspective. If someone is putting in a resignation, it’s as if there is a gun to the supervisor’s head. Now management is making decisions under extreme duress. A major fear of loss is arising within his or her mind. They’re thinking along these lines:

  • Who is going to take care of project x?
  • Everyone’s already overworked.
  • How will this affect everyone’s morale?
  • What is my supervisor going to think?
  • Who are we going to hire?
  • How long will that take?
  • How much money will this cost us?

You can see the swirling thoughts and emotions going through your supervisor’s mind. The easiest solution they can think of in this state is to throw money at the problem, make promises about promotions, and attempt to change everything that caused you angst. But have they solved the problem? Or just bought themselves some time?

People Don’t Change

Let’s face it, money was only one reason you wanted to leave to begin with. But you’ve decided to stay. What happened to all those promises they made? Good intentions are one thing, but the truth is that people don’t change that easily. Now that you’ve decided to stay, you are viewed as a flight risk. Every time you are out of the office, they think you’re looking for a job (even though you’re just at the doctor’s office). Ninety percent of people who accept a counteroffer are no longer with the company within a year after acceptance. Promises don’t come to fruition. Your loyalty is now shot. Suspicion sets in on your supervisor’s part. Paranoia sets in on your part. And you’ll find that promotions are given to those who are loyal.

What Happened?

Counteroffers could be renamed “future raises given now to put out a fire.” It’s more cost-effective to give a raise than to rehire. It could be expensive for a position to go unfilled for months on end, so giving a raise buys them some time. And it’s pretty cost-effective if you think about it. If they give you a $20,000 raise, then only have to pay you 2/12 of that raise, they made out pretty well, because once they gave the raise they started secretly looking to replace you. I have half a dozen searches like this right now. Offering a raise bought them some time. Now everything is on their terms. It’s less interruptive for them to take this route. So now they shop for someone new.

Is this how you want things to go in your career? Doesn’t this say career suicide to you? The best option when presented with a counteroffer, is to stay strong in your resolve and move on with your original plan. Money wasn’t the only reason you wanted to leave to begin with, and people don’t change that easily. Once you’re seen as a flight risk they will be looking to replace you.

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