Why You Should Say NO to a Counteroffer

Tug of war over counteroffers

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 more to problems than it does to getting a new start. Despite your employer's seemingly genuine attempt to keep you as a valuable member of his or her 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 further. However, this does not necessarily mean the luster will last, and rejecting an offer from a new firm could be detrimental to future opportunities.

The one that almost got away

Although your employer may seem happy to retain you as an employee, you could be seen as the one who wanted to leave. 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 cut back.

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 with Robert Half's latest Salary Guide.

More than 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.

Burning bridges

You run the risk of severing ties with the other firm by rejecting an 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 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.

Nothing changes

Not only does more money not change your situation (e.g. how much you're appreciated, 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. 

More about the counteroffer

In a Robert Half survey of 2,200 chief financial officers, 78 percent said they don’t extend counteroffers to entice employees from leaving for another job: Most CFOs Say No. And if you're a manager who needs more convincing, here's 4 Reasons Counteroffers Don't Work.

Editor's note: This post was updated in 2016 to reflect more current information.