It's not a good idea to accept a counteroffer from your current employer when you've already accepted an offer with another employer. That's not just true for finance and accounting professionals. It's universal.
As tempting as it may be to jump at a salary increase and additional perks at a new firm, sticking with your current position when you've been given a counteroffer can lead to more problems than if you were to get a new start. Despite your employer's seemingly genuine attempt to keep you as a valuable member of the team, that worth could diminish quickly if you decide to stay on.
Why? Counteroffers often result from employers' suspicions that they may be losing an especially talented employee. There's something that another company sees in you, so you are worth investing in a little more. However, this does not necessarily mean the luster will last, while rejecting a job offer from a new firm could be detrimental to your future opportunities.
In a Robert Half survey of CFOs, 78 percent said they don’t extend counteroffers to keep employees from leaving for another job.
The downside of 'almost' leaving
Although your employer may seem happy to retain you as an employee, you could be seen as the one who almost got away. When a promotion opportunity arises, you may be one of the last people considered, because your employer won't be sure if and when you'll be putting in your two weeks' notice again.
Your status as a potential deserter could also be a mitigating factor if the company needs to make layoffs. Unlike the seemingly loyal employees who appear to be team players, you were already dissatisfied, so you could be more vulnerable to a cutback.
It may be only a matter of time
What may appear to be a sweet deal could actually be just a temporary solution on your employer's end. There's a chance the company is only offering you more favorable terms until it can find someone else who can take over your responsibilities. Once your employer locates a replacement to fill your role, you may be expendable.
Are you worried about being seen as a job-hopper? There are some benefits to making successive career moves.
How much were you really worth?
Considering the fact that you had to accept another offer to get more favorable terms with your employer, your value may not have been truly recognized. If your employer noticed your talents as a necessary part of your accounting firm's team, you would have been able to negotiate long ago for any additional perks.
There is even a possibility that you'll have a harder time negotiating for a raise in the future, given that your employer already gave you one to keep you from leaving.
Make sure you're up to date on the salary ranges for your position and in your region by visiting Robert Half's Salary Center.
Rejecting a job offer could burn bridges
You run the risk of severing ties with the other firm by rejecting their job offer. If things still don't work out with your current employer after you accept the counteroffer, and you're looking to change jobs, the new company may not be inclined to give you another chance.
A good amount of time went into interviewing and selecting you, and they would have to go through the process again if you turn down the offer.
Putting your own needs first
When delivering a counteroffer, employers are more often concerned with fulfilling the company's own needs than they are improving your job satisfaction. To be fair, however, your company may have just been not paying attention and took it for granted that you were happy in your role. Still, you need to do what's necessary to get ahead in your career. Opt for the business that knows your worth.
Is it really all about the money?
Even if the salary increase was the main reason you were ready to leave, using a counteroffer as a means of upping your pay does not provide sufficient cause to stay. In most cases, there are other factors at play that made you feel like leaving, whether they included unresponsive management, unfavorable working conditions or burnout in your job.
Not only does more money not change your situation — such as how much you're appreciated or your work-life balance — but money probably isn't the only reason you wanted to leave. Counteroffers can be flattering and even tempting, but the risks outweigh the rewards. Leave on good terms. You may be able to return later, if that's your best option.
Read about finding the right job in finance and accounting, gaining a competitive edge and working with a recruiter.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated recently to reflect more current information.