Should You Accept a Counteroffer? Three Pros and Cons

In this competitive hiring environment, many employers continue to find it challenging to hire the technical professionals needed to achieve their technology objectives. So when faced with a surprise resignation, their staffing challenges may be magnified. Frequently, an employer’s natural reaction is to try to keep a top performer who plans to leave.  But should you accept a counteroffer? 

That counteroffer may hinge on additional compensation, work schedule flexibility or immediate promotion opportunities – things designed to respond to persuade you to change your mind and stay with the company.

In general, I don’t think IT pros should accept a counteroffer. Here's why:

  1. It shouldn’t take a formal resignation to spur your employer into action. If they were aware of your concerns and weren’t able to address them, why wait until your resignation to offer you what you wanted? Consider whether it will take a resignation in the future to address your concerns.
  2. Your loyalty will always be in question. Once you accept a counteroffer and they know you were prepared to move on, it will always be in the back of your employer’s mind. If the company is faced with layoffs or a reorganization, your previous resignation could influence your employer’s decisions.
  3. A counteroffer only addresses your immediate concerns. You likely weighed all the factors about your job when you decided to leave the company, and you chose to move on. Some issues – you have a completely different vision than your manager, for example – aren’t going to be easily resolved. So if you accept a counteroffer it may only be a temporary resolution until the old issues once again arise.

However, there are some situations in which it could make sense to accept a counteroffer:

  1. The grass is not always greener. I can recite many examples of people who left a good job to go to a new organization and what seemed like a great job. However, while a new firm may address some of your concerns (offer you more money or a shorter commute, for example), you will be presented with an entirely new set of concerns. Maybe you and your new counterpart won’t see eye to eye, for example. If you think your current employer is genuinely interested in addressing your concerns, it may make sense to accept a counteroffer and stay.
  2. It's a short-term situation that’s not ideal. It’s easy to get caught up in a period on the job where things feel stale or stressful. Try to evaluate your employment and career over the long term, and don’t overreact based on what may be temporary circumstances. You could regret making a career-defining decision based on a challenging, but short-term, period of time at your firm.
  3. You never clearly voiced your concerns. If you didn’t express your dissatisfaction with your current job to your manager, it’s tough for him or her to respond and address them. (That’s assuming the concerns didn’t have to do with a personality issue, which is more complicated.) A counteroffer may simply be a response to your concerns when your manager hears of them for the first time. (Note: It’s always better to provide your employer an opportunity to hear and address your concerns before you resign.)

While there are exceptions, as I said earlier, I don't typically advise IT pros to accept a counteroffer. They are typically a temporary fix to issues that can resurface again down the road.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Thank you.