Posted by Robert Half on 15 May 2017
So you've applied for a new role, impressed the prospective employer in an interview enough to receive a job offer and now you have received a counteroffer.
You've informed your boss of the job opportunity, and handed in your notice. But what's this? Rather than accepting your resignation and wishing you on your way, your current employer is offering you a pay rise to stay.
Your employer's move creates something of a dilemma, particularly as the counteroffer is attractive. Do you stick to your guns and reject the counteroffer or stay where you are?
In this situation – which often arises when high-calibre professionals change jobs – it is important to consider the situation as a whole. You need to think about your long-term career development, and how you will best pursue your long-term professional goals.
In the vast majority of cases, you should avoid accepting a counteroffer made by your current employer for these five reasons:
1. It doesn't address the underlying issue
Only very rarely do people resign from their jobs solely to get a better offer from their employer. They look for a new job because they feel ready for a change or a new challenge. Very often, professionals feel they are stagnating with their current organisation and need to move in order to continue their progress.
Even if there is a promotion on the table, how long will it be until you feel the same way about your job and employer? You could accept the counteroffer and be back in the same position in six months' time.
2. The bond of trust has been broken
Once you have handed in your notice, your employer will never view you in the same light again - even if you retract it and accept the counteroffer. In the boss' eyes, you have shown a lack of loyalty to the organisation and its mission, and this means you can't really be trusted to the same degree as you were before.
Your employer will always be suspicious that you are looking for a new job, and this can impact on your working relationship going forwards.
3. It may be just a cost-saving measure
It can cost a significant amount of money to hire replacement employees and train them up, particularly where senior roles are concerned. In some instances, employers may offer a counteroffer simply to avoid the hassle and expenditure involved with recruiting a new employee and having to train them up. Is this why your boss really wants to keep you? If so, there may be no real benefit in staying as it may hamper your career development.
Your employer hasn't retained you because you're a future leader but because it’s easier to increase your salary then find someone to take your place.
4. You should have received more sooner
If your employer thinks you are worth keeping, why didn't they offer you the salary increase during your last performance review? What has changed in the last three, six or nine months?
If you tried to negotiate a pay rise at an earlier point in time but were refused, it suggests your employer has been trying to get away with paying you less than you are worth. Consulting the Robert Half Salary Guide will show you how much you could, and should, be earning.
5. You don't want to have any regrets
Having worked for your current employer for a length of time, you can probably visualise how your career will develop with the organisation after accepting a counteroffer. You will most likely continue to have the same issue, continue to work in the same environment and have the same career development opportunities.
Sometimes it's important for professionals to make a change and to open the door to new opportunities - some of which are impossible to predict. If you remain with the same employer forever, doing the same type of work, you may end up having career regrets later in life.
The bottom-line: a counter-offer is best avoided
Even if the salary increase was the main reason you were ready to leave, using a counteroffer as a means of upping your pay does not provide sufficient cause to stay. In most cases, there are other factors at play that made you feel like leaving, whether they included unresponsive management, unfavorable working conditions or burnout in your job.
Not only does more money not change your situation — such as how much you're appreciated or your work-life balance — but money probably isn't the only reason you wanted to leave. Counteroffers can be flattering and even tempting, but the risks outweigh the rewards. Leave on good terms. You may be able to return later, if that's your best option.