Why Accepting a Counteroffer could be a Very Bad Decision



Revealing plans to resign is rarely a conversation most employees look forward to. Some have gone so far as to say it’s one of the conversations they dread the most. It can be a particularly challenging event if the very reason for your departure is the deficiency of your manager. What, though, would be your response if your manager took you completely by surprise and asked you to stay?

Why accepting counteroffer

Reality Bites

Particularly if you haven’t felt appreciated during your time with this employer, it might be truly difficult imagining them asking you to stay. However, be warned, Manager’s have been known to propose counter-offers on the spot as part of what can only be considered a knee-jerk reaction.

Your manager may be shocked when faced with the realization that all the time and money they’ve invested into you, may soon be walking out the door. Further to that, they may be additionally shaken by the fact you might join the competition. Your manager may be fearful of how he or she will cope without you or who will undertake the job in your absence. They may also be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of time it will undoubtedly take to train someone new.

High Risk and for what Reward?

The risk for you comes in identifying the real reasons for asking you to stay. You must be cautious your employer isn’t simply planning to keep your seat warm in order to bide time whilst they train a new incumbent. If they successfully lure you to stay, they might still proceed with implementing a succession plan. As such, your replacement may be hired right under your nose. In this case, accepting a counteroffer may be detrimental to your career moving forward.

The very act of tendering your resignation has identified you as a high risk employee; one that already has a foot out the door. If you stay, they might cease your training and development in the belief that you’re highly likely to leave at some point in the not-too-distant future. Your employer is in business to make a profit after all, and has an obligation to look after themselves just as you’re responsible for future proofing your own career.

As flattering as it may feel to receive a counteroffer, it may not be conducive to advancing your career in the long term. Now is the time to consider the multiple reasons that motivated you to search for a new position in the first place. Was it the lack of promotion or career advancement opportunities? Was it the search for a higher salary or yearning for a new corporate culture?  Whatever the reasons, it’s critical not to forget them because those circumstances are unlikely to change regardless if you decide to stay.

Burning Bridges

Accepting the counteroffer means you’ll be responsible for delivering the news to your prospective employer. Regardless of your acceptance, you’ve probably already damaged the relationship with your existing employer. In addition, your relationship with the prospective employer will be placed in jeopardy also. Ultimately, you may burn both bridges.


The new employer will likely feel as if you’ve wasted their time and cheated their recruitment process whilst your existing employer will likely assume you’re a disengaged employee. Your current employer may question your motives and commitment over the long term, and effectively have the writing on the wall for your position before you know it. Depending on the size and nature of your industry, word may also spread like wildfire, and your reputation tarnished.

If you accept the counteroffer, news is likely to spread within the existing company that you were looking for work and that you accepted the counteroffer. People will speculate about the incentives that were offered to entice you to stay and the expectation that you will produce amazing results will be sizable. Only consider accepting a counteroffer if you believe you can live up to these expectations and ideally, exceed them.

If you attempted to rectify concerns such as poor management, the scope of your job or your salary prior to searching for work elsewhere, you may ultimately identify a counteroffer as being insincere. A genuinely caring employer would have attempted to rectify these issues at the time they were raised, rather than waiting until they received your resignation.

Why accepting counteroffer

Careful Balance

If declining, it’s critical to notify your employer immediately and graciously thank them for their offer. Provide explanation that your sights are set on the future role and confirm your commitment to your new employer. Thank your current employer for providing you with opportunities for learning and progression during your time with them. Remember, in the future you may work with them again, possibly in a different capacity. You never know, one day you might even become their customer or client.

If accepting the counteroffer, hopefully you have decided to do so prior to formally accepting an  offer from the prospective employer. This will save you a partial amount of grace and dignity because you can simply decline their offer. Expect their hiring manager to be disgruntled, but remember why you’ve made your decision and stand by the reasons with conviction.

The future of your career is clearly not a game and therefore shouldn’t be treated as such. Your professional identity is serious business and the circumstances surrounding any transition in role or company will vary greatly from one person to the next. Invest time in considering all your options carefully before making a decision that will impact the foreseeable future of your career because your personal and professional happiness will thank you in the long term.


Alan Anwar is the Managing Director at Datasearch Consulting, a leading executive recruitment firm specialising in the Financial Technology & Data sectors.

You can download their FREE comprehensive guide on “The Complete Guide to Hiring Fintech & Data Talent – 5 Proven Steps to Secure your Ideal Fintech or Data Role”.Alternatively, you can view the Datasearch Consulting website or contact them directly on info@datasearchconsulting.com for a more detailed discussion.

Share This