Infographic: Should You Accept a Counter Offer?

By Robert Half May 7, 2014 at 7:00am

It may feel good to be in demand – so much so that your current employer presents you with a counter offer after you've accepted another job – but should you be tempted to stay? A TCG survey reveals that your loyalty may come into question if you're willing to accept a counter offer.

The laws of supply and demand often create a natural order in the job market. If your role is highly sought after you'll likely have your pick of companies looking for people with your skill set. Couple that with a limited pool of qualified applicants, and you've got the perfect environment for rising salaries. And while that may put you in a unique place when it comes to new job opportunities, it may also put you in a tricky one when it comes to handling counter offers.

Is the counter offer counter productive?

Research from TCG indicates that the counter offer is becoming more common. But accepters beware: They can be a double-edged sword. As the person being pulled in two directions, is a counter offer the long-term solution to your readiness to leave? Or is it simply a quick fix that will keep you temporarily appeased? (Check out our infographic below highlighting the survey results.)

Are you really serious about leaving?

If occasional-to-incessant wooing is leaving you curious about what else is out there, or if you're beginning a new job search on your own, consider these two strategies before you get caught up in interviews, negotiations, offers (and counter offers).

1. Be honest with your current employer. Let your boss know if you have been getting calls or emails from other companies. This gives your current employer the opportunity to be proactive. It also opens up the conversation about your job satisfaction and what you need – more challenging assignments or greater autonomy, for example – to continue working happily. However, approach the conversation respectfully; don't present the information like a threat. Rather, reinforce that it may be time to re-evaluate compensation and perks given the competitiveness of the market.

2. Make a must-have list. If you're generally happy with your current job, but would consider jumping ship for the perfect opportunity, make a list of what it would take. Maybe it's a shorter commute, a better job title or the opportunity to work in an industry you're passionate about. Whatever compels you, knowing what's most important will keep you grounded when opportunities come knocking, especially those simply offering higher salaries.

Why you should table the counter offer

Even if you've been transparent with your current employer and have your must-have list in place, that ideal role may be worth taking. If your company responds to your resignation with a counter offer, consider these three questions before you accept:

1. Will it address your real issues? What prompted you to look around or respond to other inquiries in the first place? (Re-read #2 above; is the reason on your must-have list?) It's never wise to seek out other opportunities simply to create a bidding war in your favor.

2. Is it too little, too late? Did you ask for a raise six months ago and not get it? Assuming you came to the table with relevant details around why you deserved it, getting the salary boost now versus then may feel confusing or off-putting. If your employer truly values you, they should compensate you fairly and reward excellence without being forced by circumstance. 

3. Will it make you feel entitled? Be honest with yourself. If knowing that you earn more than your peers will put you in a position to treat them differently, it may not be a good idea to stay. Even if you agree to a higher salary, your title may remain intact, which means you'll likely maintain a similar dynamic with coworkers. If an elevated title is ultimately what you're after, it may be better to move on, especially if you feel you've outgrown your role.


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