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Counter offers – should you take them?

October 21, 2009

Dear Damien,

After being at my wits end for a year, I tendered my resignation last week and am serving my notice. But guess what? My company decided to give me a counter offer. A promotion to Assistant Manager position and an immediate 20% raise which I had been fighting for all along. This package puts it at par with the offer that I got outside. Should I take the counter offer?

Dear Megan,

If it was the highest bidder you were after, then you should go to whoever pays you higher, even if its $100 more. There’s nothing to think about.

But if its more than just about money, then think before you jump. There’s pros and cons to everything.

First, the pros. If your initial gripe was about money and position, then you got what you wanted. You need not re-learn anything. You know your way around, people know you, life goes on as usual. The difference is you having more money in your pocket and a more flattering title on your business card.

The cons: History can and will often repeat itself.

By giving you a counter offer, the company basically admits its a poor judge of talent and a worse one at handling it. Perhaps they didn’t think you were worth that much. Or perhaps they did, but they thought they could get away with underpaying you. If its the latter, then you know there’s something fundamentally dishonest about that counter offer.

Personally, I think the cons are bigger than the pros. Why do I say that?

Because by taking the offer, you’d be falling back on the same old mechanism that screwed you over in the first place. Unless they’ll make changes like transferring you to a new boss who actually knows what he’s doing, who’s to say you won’t find yourself in the same situation next year?

Second is what accepting a counter offer might say about you as a person and its usually along the lines of money can silence you. You can be bought. True or not, its a perception. A statement of character. It can impact your superiors’ choices about you later. The more senior you are, the more damaging u-turns can be to you.

So my advice to you is, before you accept a counter offer, ask them some hard questions like

1. Why the counter offer and why now

2. How did they drive you to a point where you felt you had to leave to save your career

3. What are their plans for your future

4. Will they put you in this situation again

Only reconsider your departure if real reconciliation is possible. If not, you’re better off elsewhere.

Good luck.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2009 10:44 pm

    I’ll never take a counter offer because i always spend an awful amount of time to decide before finding another job. If I’ve decided, means I’ve already given myself enough justifications that this company is pretty hopeless. If there’s still a glimmer of hope, I would’ve just walked to the boss and have a chat.

    And I seriously do not want to be regarded as someone who can be bought over by money…..a money-minded person who cares nothing other than money. Because i’m not. Money IS important but enjoying your work and feeling happy with the company are even more important.

    Often the glimmer of hope is a false one because no one is indispensable, least of all low and mid-level employees. Sometimes I feel that counter offers are just a way for them to keep you long enough to train your replacement. People who take counter offers will usually leave within 1 year anyway.

  2. October 22, 2009 3:10 am

    Well , I thank God i am a stubborn son .
    At least i do not need to face this kinda “counter offer” dilemma

    Once i said go for it , i finish it .No looking back.

    But of course you have counter offers. Don’t customers and suppliers bargain with you? 😀

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