What if you receive a counter offer?

You’ve just received a job offer, congratulations! But what if your current employer is keen for you to stay? Whilst this can be extremely flattering, it’s important to remember why you have been looking for a new role and whether what your current employer can offer meets the goals you have set for yourself. 


Man discussing counter offer in a job interview


You might have been looking to leave your role because you felt you had gone as far as you possibly could and were generally dissatisfied, or your head might have been turned by a new, exciting opportunity. Ultimately, you are the only person who can make the decision on whether to accept a counter offer, so here are our top tips to help you decide what is right for your career.


Before you start applying for jobs

Before you even begin applying to new roles, it might be useful to take some time to think about what would happen if you were counter offered – what would make you want to stay? If you can, approach your manager to discuss any frustrations prior to searching for work – you may be able to solve them without even having to attend an interview. Likewise, think about the reasons why you are looking for a new role, and what you would need from a potential offer in order to accept it.

If your current boss has previously shown that you are important to the company and has taken steps to provide development opportunities, letting them know that you have been approached by another employer is a fair thing to do. If your boss can’t help you achieve your aspirations, you will often find that they are supportive of your move because of your honesty. On the other hand, if a counter offer is genuinely a knee-jerk response based not on supporting your career but on avoiding costs, accepting this may not be the right thing to do.


The application process

In order to place yourself in the most suitable role possible, it is important to be extremely clear on what it is you’re looking for and apply only for jobs that will improve your situation. You should be honest with yourself and your recruitment consultant about what you want to achieve in your career. Are you looking for an increase in salary? Do you need a role that offers more flexibility? You may find it useful to produce a set of career goals to help you decide whether moving jobs is going to be the right decision, and if it is, what role will be suitable. Your recruiter will be able to offer insights into whether a position in question will meet your needs. Read our article on how to help us help you during your job hunt. 

An interview is a great time to discuss the benefits of working for a company, gain an understanding of their progression pathways and development opportunities, and learn more about the role itself. You should use this as your chance to find out everything you can about a company, which will allow you to make a better informed career decision on whether the new role or counter offer is more suitable.


The job offer versus the counter offer

Once it comes down to making the final decision, there are some important things to consider, such as:

  • Think about the real motives behind the counter offer. Does your employer truly value you as an individual, or is it just easier and cheaper to retain you than recruit a new member of staff?
  • What are the reasons you haven’t been offered this level of job improvement earlier? Is the counter offer based on merit or fear of losing you?
  • Think about your reasons for leaving – have these been addressed by the counter offer? You might feel like you don’t have enough autonomy at your current job, or have a poor working relationship with your colleagues so these need to be resolved.
  • If you have now demonstrated that you are willing to leave the business and your colleagues become aware of the improved package offer, are they likely to resent you? Your loyalty may be questioned, and your employer may struggle to trust you fully.
  • On the other hand, if you have gone through the application process, negotiated a salary and accepted an offer with a prospective employer before then deciding against it, the chances of a future relationship with this company may be damaged. Breaking a commitment can lead to being labelled a time-waster, therefore you may need to consider the implications for your long-term career and future job searches.


After making the decision

Taking all of this into account, you may still decide that you’re going to accept the counter offer. Be honest with all parties about the course of action that you intend to take, and make sure that you don’t close off communications without formally declining an offer. The company may need to re-advertise, or there may be another candidate under consideration.

Further to this, be sure to formalise the process with your current employer. It is important to ensure that you have a formal offer in writing before you decide to walk away from a prospective employer.


You may also like to read:

Managing multiple job offers

How to job hunt online

How to use LinkedIn for your job search

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