accept a counter offer

Wait! Should I Accept a Counteroffer?

Wait! Should I Accept a Counteroffer?
Reading Time: 5 minutes

So, you found yourself a great career opportunity, or maybe this amazing job offer found you! You are excited about taking the next step. But just as you are on your way out of your current job, ready to say goodbye to your coworkers, your boss draws its secret weapon: the counteroffer. 

It’s possible that you didn’t even think you would receive a counteroffer, and you’re now questioning your entire decision, or maybe that’s exactly what you were hoping for. Either way, the question is: should you accept the counteroffer?

The reality of a counteroffer

While some publications will tell you that you should immediately turn down a counteroffer, you have to keep in mind that your situation is unique, and you should treat it as such. But, yes, according to the Harvard Business Review, only 5% to 25% of counteroffers actually work out great for the employee, so you better make sure you are taking the right path for your specific goals.

Start by being honest with yourself. What do you want? Even if you weren’t looking for this new career opportunity, were you thinking about leaving anytime soon? Some people feel stuck or like they have already peaked at their company but don’t really take action until an outstanding opportunity comes along. Others are not even sure about what’s bothering them but actively go on with their job search, hoping that starting a new job will be the answer.

Now, something led you to take a job offer somewhere else. You just have to be very clear on your reasoning. Pinpoint each cause for your decision. Is it a lack of work-life balance? Are you looking after your career progression? Do you find yourself in a toxic work environment? Have you asked for a promotion before but never got it? Write it down so there’s no confusion in your choice-making process.

Stay ahead!

Let’s be real for a second. You probably should have given some thought to your reasoning way earlier in the process. At the very least since before you started your interview process with the new company. If you have a recruiter working with you, you probably have this clear from the start. But let’s say you found the job on your own or got word from a friend; you need to prep yourself to make sure you are making the right move.

Job counteroffers can be tricky if you are not expecting them. Your boss will likely catch you off guard after you’ve given your notice. If that already happened to you, then you probably had to think on your feet! Hopefully, you didn’t have to give an answer then and there because that’s how a lot of employees end up giving part of the negotiation away.

Things to consider before accepting a counteroffer

Well, you are now at your boss’ office or on Zoom, where you are playing a counteroffer match. The first thing you need to do is stay calm and read the room. How many people are in the negotiation? Just you and your boss? Or is there a third party? If there is someone else, understand their role in this conversation.

Remember, you are not talking to “the company,” you are talking to people. So, before you give anything away, listen carefully to what they are saying to understand where they are coming from and what they are offering. Is it just a higher salary? Or are they offering to enhance your benefits packages, like health insurance, education stipends, permanent remote work, or extended parental leave?

Think about their offer and if it addresses your reasons for leaving. Maybe your main reason to go was that you wanted to spend more time with your family, not necessarily make some extra money. If the offer matches your concerns, it means that at least your boss heard you and understood where you were coming from when you decided to leave.

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What are their motives?

Also, why do they want to keep you? Employee retention is vital to any company, but all operation costs aside, why are you valuable to them? Ask this question if it’s not been made clear to you. Of course, you know what you can bring to the table. Still, this question is about understanding motivations and your future in the company should you decide to stay.

One of the main reasons why accepting a counteroffer is often discouraged is because there’s the risk that your current employer is only doing this to keep up with the work while they find a replacement. While this is a low blow to any professional, it can happen.

They can also question your loyalty or define this offer as your final advancement in the company. So, make sure they want to keep you because they truly value you and want to continue growing together. Just watch out for any bluff!

Beyond the benefits

No matter how attractive a counteroffer may sound, if you are aware that you were leaving because of a stressful work environment or because there have been incidents with your boss or coworkers, no offer will change that. This negotiation is meant to change things for you, but not the workplace.

Unless your boss recognizes the issue and commits to taking the right measures, this scenario you’ve been dreading will stay the same. Hear what they have to say about that, but don’t forget that your mental health is not up for negotiation.

Ready to accept the offer?

You now have all the information you need, what is in the offer and why they want to keep you. If the offer caters exactly to what you were struggling with and you can stay there for the long run, then maybe you could accept. Just don’t do it right away!

It’s ok to think things through. Say how much you appreciate them making the offer and that you don’t want to play around, so you’ll think it over then give them an answer. You may have to reply in a couple of hours, but don’t let that pressure distract you.

Ask yourself, are you really done with the new career opportunity? Were you excited to start working with this other company? Is the counteroffer a match to what you are getting from this new job?

If you were already on your way out, don’t just let go of what you had already deemed as a dream job. In the end, just make sure you know what you want and be confident in turning down what you don’t.

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Contributed by Monica Martin del Campo & Mary Dominguez

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