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  • Tessa Fyson

10 reasons why you should say "no"​ to your counteroffer.


If you’re mulling over handing in your notice, you may be thinking about what your employer might do in response. You might worry that this move isn’t worth the trouble, that you may not like working elsewhere more and that you’re making the wrong decision.


The go-to for most employers is to counteroffer with more money or, if you’re leaving as you want a promotion and more visibility, they may dangle a different job title or more responsibility. This should set alarm bells ringing: if they thought you deserved more money or responsibility, why didn’t they offer it to you before?


However, this by back process is flattering (“they want me after all, they’re listening to me”), so you might be tempted. But we’d advise taking a long hard think about what you do next, our Managing Partner Tom Wilkinson regularly comments to candidates ‘you leave an employer for your reasons and stay for theirs’. You may be persuaded to stay with your current employer, enjoying a higher salary, role promotion and more responsibility. Like any big life decision, it is worth looking at the big picture and reminding yourself why you looked to move in the first place. Will a counteroffer be enough to deter you? Before you make any decisions – and even before you hand in your notice – it’s wise to read our top ten reasons you should consider saying no to any counteroffer.


So, before you resign, think about the following:


1. Why do you want to leave your job?


Most of the time, this comes down to salary, lack of progression, dislike of a boss or team or the need for a new challenge. Before accepting a counteroffer, consider whether it addresses your core reason for wanting to leave.


Counteroffers only usually address salary, which can be tempting at first. But imagine how you’ll feel in three or six months when you’re used to your new salary but still unhappy in your role. Since Covid-19 and the misery it brought, many people are taking more risks at work and jumping ship when they’re unhappy, as we’ve collectively realised that life is too short to spend so much of it feeling miserable. Before you accept your counteroffer, remember why you resigned and don’t stay trapped somewhere where you were not thriving.


2. Why is your employer listening to you now?


Presuming that your employer is already aware of how you were feeling about your role, why are they choosing to act now? Have they been taking you for granted? What’s stopped them from giving you more opportunities, money and benefits up to this point? And once they’ve stopped you from leaving, how will they treat you in the future? Though we naturally think about money, benefits and recognition, mental health should be your first consideration when thinking about leaving a job. Will staying – and continuing to be badly treated – be good for your mental health?


3. Are you prepared to prove yourself AGAIN?


Increased salaries and promotions tend to come with increased responsibilities. This means you have to prove AGAIN that you’re up for the job you’ve been given. Presuming you already felt taken for granted, is this a situation you’d like to be in again? Don’t get us wrong – new challenges are essential for good mental health, personal growth and progression, but only when you feel valued, appreciated and supported.


4. Are you ready for the increased responsibilities?


If you’ve been given additional responsibility as part of your counteroffer, are these responsibilities that you welcome? Will you be able to perform well? Will training or coaching be available to support you, and are your career goals being considered? You may also wonder why you’ve never been given these responsibilities before.

Historically, candidates have told us that their counteroffers were nothing but promises quickly broken. So, if you are considering your counteroffer, make sure it is set in stone and not just pretty words before you seriously consider it.


5. Have you thought carefully about the role you’ve been offered?


Sometimes, resignations take employers by surprise. In these cases, they may make a quick decision – not thought through – which won’t work out for you. You may get offered a rapidly conjured-up new role so that you will not leave. If this happens to you, think about your new role carefully. Why was this role never offered to you before? Why has your employer held back on providing you with more money or responsibility? Does this position have any chance of career progression or development, or is it a dead end? You know your priorities. Is this a long-term solution or a short-term fix?


6. What will happen to your salary in the future?


Many counteroffers come with a pay rise – but why have you not been offered this additional money before? It may be that you weren’t being paid market value beforehand, and all the counteroffer has done is rectified this issue. You may also find that having a salary increase now means that you won’t be considered for your subsequent annual pay rise – so your salary will be frozen. Could accepting your counteroffer ultimately leave you in a worse position financially?


7. What does your employer think of you now?


If your employer knows you want to leave, they will question your loyalty. Will they think of you first, positively, at promotion time, or will the fact that you’ve previously resigned stand against you? Will you be first in line for redundancy? Or for that tricky project which is bound to be a failure? You’re much more likely to have better prospects and a brighter future in a new role. We're all human, and employers may feel a stab of disloyalty if you hand your notice in. Remember that you wouldn't be contemplating leaving if you felt appreciated and valued.


8. Will you regret staying and wonder “what if…” about other paths open to you?


Once you’ve accepted your counteroffer and the adrenaline has dissipated, you may have time to reflect that you’ve made the wrong choice. There’s a whole world out there. Are you holding yourself back? To quote Jeff Bezos, “I knew that if I failed, I wouldn't regret that. But I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying”.


9. Does the counteroffer meet your long-term goals?


Often people resign when their current job is at odds with their dream role, lifestyle or career. By accepting a counteroffer, are you ignoring your long-term goals and denying yourself an exciting and aspirational role at a company that shares your values? Remember: you wanted to leave before you got the counteroffer. Fast forward three or six months – will you want to be on the move again? According to the Harvard Business Review, around 70% of people accepting a counteroffer leave for a new job within the year. Will this include you?



10. Is the counteroffer a stall tactic?


You resign, get a counteroffer and accept it. Your employer then pays you a little more for a few months while finding someone to replace you. Could your counteroffer be a stall tactic – a way for them to get rid of you on their terms when they’re ready? This could be a nasty shock waiting for you around the corner.


As you can see, there are many reasons why we suggest you say no to your counteroffer. Though they can momentarily be flattering and exciting, often, they are not worth the paper they are written on. Whether they’re a stall tactic, too little too late, or a panicked response from someone who can’t face recruitment right now, they are rarely good news for the people receiving them. After all, if you were so happy in your role and team and thought your manager would be responsive to supporting you, why did you resign to start with?

Maybe it’s time to talk to us about how we can find you a role where you can thrive.


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We’re an award-winning search firm and work in close partnership with clients and candidates who want long-term expert support, wise advice and market-leading insight from a pioneering and innovative company. For over a decade, we have been building our business and pursuing excellence across three market verticals: professional services, alternative investments & portfolio companies. For more information on how we can support you: https://www.wilkinsonpartners.com/

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