Why You Should Absolutely NOT Accept a Counteroffer… Ever (Under Any Circumstance)

Why You Should Absolutely NOT Accept a Counteroffer

by Elyce Murillo

In recruitment/HR, there are countless moving parts and variables that make a potential job marriage successful. 

First: is the candidate qualified for the role?
Then: does the candidate want the role?
Now: does the client want to see the candidate?
If yes: do schedules coincide?
If yes, once they’ve met: how did it go?
Did the manager and the group vibe well with the candidate?
Is the candidate interested?
Is the client interested?
Are there other contenders in the running for the role?
Is the candidate interviewing for other roles that are moving faster than this one?
Does the commute make sense?
Does the compensation make sense?
Is the candidate walking away from a bonus? etc.

Even recounting all that is stressful!

In a job market where companies are on the up-and-up, quality professionals are often faced with multiple options, and, with that, inevitably comes what HR and recruiters dub “the turndown.”

Turndown for What?

There are a lot of reasons why someone might turn down an offer and, frankly, every one of them really should have been considered and addressed prior to the final round interview, if not sooner. To name a few: the commute is too long; they don’t like the team; they just generally don’t like the opportunity; they have another offer elsewhere and the opportunity seems better; and, finally, the worst of all: they’ve accepted a counteroffer.

Dun Dun Dun… the Counteroffer

When I think of a counter, the first things that come to mind are temporary and bribe. Let’s be logical when considering what goes through an employer’s mind when someone resigns. Think of it as dueling rivalry between what he’s saying and what he’s thinking…

What He’s Saying What He’s Thinking
“I’m shocked – I thought you were happy with us.” This couldn’t come at a worse time.
“But it’s the middle of the quarter – we really count on you.” How are we going to finish this project now?
“You’re so valued here; do you feel undervalued?” Now who is going to cover me while I am on vacation?
“We have some exciting plans for your future growth here!” Who is going to pick up this workload?
“Where are you going?” Ugh. Better not say my competitor.
“What type of package are they offering?” How much will it take to appease you for the time being?

Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200

If you previously couldn’t get a raise but can once you’ve produced an offer from another firm, ask yourself why am I being offered a raise now that I’m resigning? You weren’t valuable enough for a promotion/raise before, but during the last 8 minutes you have suddenly earned your stripes. Go ahead; try to justify this to yourself.

The reality of the situation is if you resign, you are wildly disrupting the entire office environment, not to mention the stability of your co-workers, morale of the group, and overall workload of your team. It’s much easier for everyone if you just stay. A compensation-motivated counteroffer is like trying to treat a bullet wound with a Flintstones Band-Aid. Your dissatisfaction will still be there once the monetary distraction has subsided, albeit, perhaps in a more expensive suit.

Money Can't Buy Love

Happy employees don’t apply for new roles. They don’t explore the market just to “see what’s out there.” They don’t take phone calls from recruiters. They certainly don’t interview for other positions. PERIOD.

Consider this: why did you interview in the first place? You are obviously discontented with something at work, and the chances of whatever that is changing now that you’ve decided to stay are slim. If you sweep dirt under the rug, is it still there?

The Proof is in the Pudding

I’ll just leave this right here…

Statistics prove that 85% of employees who accept a counteroffer are gone within six months.

Help Me, I'm Poor

Guess what? There are a hundred people just like you, who can do what you do, who won’t try to leave AND who come much cheaper than what you are now being paid. Change the word counter in your mind to panic – if you actually leave when you resign, you’re probably leaving your team in a bit of a lurch and finding someone new could take weeks, even months. If you accept a counter, your manager now has ample time to find someone else and will most likely lay you off once their search is successful. Call me crazy, but the new guy on your left that you’ve been training has an alarmingly similar skillset…

They say “expect the unexpected,” but in this case, you can absolutely expect that your employer is keeping you around so they can be selective when identifying your (likely cheaper) replacement.

Bueller... Bueller... 

Two words for you: FLIGHT RISK. I can’t think of many things that breed more mistrust than completing an entire interview process with another firm – and none of them are legal. Count on a 0% chance that your employer will have the same level of confidence in you moving forward. You can bet that all upper management will question your commitment and loyalty. Your boss will always wonder if your search has resumed. Ever stick out like a sore thumb? Not more than you will after accepting a counteroffer. I hope you don’t mind pressure, because you will probably be in the hot seat at every meeting, every review. All eyes will be on you: how long have you been gone for lunch? Were you interviewing? Why are you 7 minutes late this morning? Were you interviewing? What are you looking at on your computer? A job ad? Who are you texting? A recruiter? Oh, and start taking Vitamin C because you better not get sick! That day off will definitely cost you. Were you interviewing? Do you have a doctor’s note? You don’t look sick…

What’s more, if things get sticky, budgets get cut, groups get restructured, etc. guess who the first one on the chopping block will be? Don’t worry; it’s a rhetorical question.

Burn, Baby, Burn

Think: the managers you work for. The hiring managers you just declined an offer from. The HR team who just wasted their time structuring an offer. The firm that enabled you to interview with this company. All bridges burned.

I'm in a Glass Case of Emotion

It’s a lot easier to say you will do something than it is to actually do it. This is true for your employer as well. Once the dust has settled, you can bet the raises, bonuses, growth, new responsibilities, etc. won’t flow as easily as the promises did. You just got an increase, remember? Now you’re back on the fast-track to dissatisfied. But, wait, isn’t that why you were looking to leave in the first place? Yikes.

Rule Number 76: No excuses, Play like a Champion

Of course, leaving any company is going to be harder than staying. You’ve probably grown comfortable; it’s easy – mindless even. Remember why you’ve made the decision to make a move and stick to it. There is no possible gain in accepting a counteroffer, so stick to your guns and don’t be wishy-washy! I’ll give you some tough love as a sendoff: if you can look at yourself in the mirror and honestly believe that accepting a counter will be good for your career, then please refer to the above header, and look again.

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