Reasons to Decline Your Employer’s Counteroffer

September 20, 2022

The TGRP recruiting team meets candidates all across the career spectrum. Some come to us knowing that they want to switch companies and roles in the near but not immediate future. Some professionals recognize the value of networking and keeping a finger on the pulse of the job market, but aren’t actively searching.

Others contact our recruiting team with clear goals in mind: they want to leave their employer and they’re ready to start looking for their next great opportunity. Their reasons might include at least one of the following:

  • They’ve been in their current role for a while and feel underchallenged and underutilized.
  • They have realized that their current company culture is not a good fit for them.
  • They like their current company and perhaps even their current job, but they are ready to take on new challenges and their company lacks growth opportunities.
  • They are unhappy in their job because they’re overworked or underpaid or lack likeminded, supportive peers or leadership.
  • They have concerns about the company’s stability or direction.

Know your reasons

When you start any job search, it’s important to keep *your* reasons in mind. In today’s market, we’ve seen an increase in counteroffers from employers when an employee attempts to put in notice. Good employees are valuable (and in Denver, in demand), after all. To keep an employee from quitting (and leaving the company in a bind), companies might come up with a counteroffer of a higher salary.

It’s about more than money

For most candidates, increasing their salary is high on the list of goals when making a job change. There’s nothing wrong with this, but rarely does a counteroffer from an employer include more than a salary increase (and maybe a few vague promises).

Let’s use an example: Joe comes to TGRP in hopes of moving from a senior accountant position (which he has held for three years) to an accounting manager position (or similar) with more responsibility and challenge. He’s bored in his current job and wants to work at a larger company with a larger accounting department to increase his career mobility opportunities.

Joe goes through two rounds of interviews with a new company that checks all those boxes and receives an offer to become their accounting manager—at a salary that’s 10% higher than his current salary. But when Joe goes to give his notice, his employer begs to keep him, offering a 15% raise and alluding to a possible title change down the road.

A 15% salary bump is obviously enticing, but money isn’t everything. Accepting this offer would mean Joe overlooks all the reasons he started looking for a new job: his boredom, lack of growth opportunities, and desire for a larger company.

The downsides of accepting a counteroffer

Here are the biggest cons of accepting a counteroffer from your current employer when you go to put in notice to leave:

  • The reasons you engaged in a job search haven’t gone away. You were serious enough about leaving your company that you started job hunting and interviewing. Does the counteroffer address anything you were unsatisfied with other than salary?
  • Accepting a counteroffer from your current company is likely to change your relationship with your boss and others. Your peers might find out about your higher salary and get upset. Your boss or other company leaders might be less trusting of your longevity knowing you’ve been unhappy and looking for another job.
  • You had to attempt to quit to get a raise. Remember, you only got that salary increase because you told your company you were leaving. If you accept that counteroffer now, there’s a good chance you won’t get another raise for a while.
  • After things return to “business as usual,” your employer might have second thoughts about keeping you. Your employer might have reacted in a panic with an offer of more money, but will they start to second-guess that decision and make plans to replace you with someone willing to make the lower salary?
  • Long term, you are likely to regret the decision. You were excited about your new job offer. In the long run, you might regret passing it up for a primarily financial counteroffer from your current employer.

Exploring career options and going on interviews are things that every professional does. Just keep it classy in the process! If you receive an offer from a company, think through your decision carefully, including the reasons you set out on a job search in the first place. In the end, you should be respectful of others’ time while also making the best decision for you.

If TGRP can help you with your job search, contact us!

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