How to Handle a Counter Offer

The Counter Offer (CO) can be a difficult scenario for both candidate and recruiter alike

Career Tips
28th August 2017

The Counter Offer (CO) can be a difficult scenario for both candidate and recruiter alike and can cause doubt, second guessing, and in some cases, reversing the acceptance of a new offer.

When resigning, always expect a CO and think in advance about how you would respond. Many candidates will have made up their minds and simply say ‘no thank you’, shake hands and part ways. For those who are unsure of what to do, the points below are from direct experience, taken from candidates who have accepted CO’s and found themselves back in contact with us 6 months later.

Why would an employer counter offer?

On one hand it seems fairly obvious – they don’t want to lose a valuable employee and the CO is a compliment…..


It can also be a knee jerk decision in order to prevent a lengthy recruitment process or buy time to find a replacement.

Things to consider

1. Why did you want to move in the first place?

If you are at a CO stage it is because after a long interview process you have accepted a new role in a new business that has met the criteria and package you were looking for. Before you turn away from this path, think carefully about why you were looking for a new opportunity in the first place. Will these issues go away if you now chose to stay?

2. Why am I only now being presented with these new internal options?

If you are considering a CO because of a promise of increased job responsibilities or pay you need to ask yourself – why have I only just been presented with these opportunities? The same applies if you already asked but didn’t get. If your potential has only been noticed when you want to leave, perhaps your potential is best realised elsewhere.

3. Future earning potential

Any immediate pay increase may simply be future pay increases brought forwards. The short term boost will effectively be negated by lower pay rises in the future

4. Loyalty questions

If your manager knows you are looking elsewhere your commitment to the team/company will have a question mark against it. This could have an impact on the projects you are engaged on or even on future career progression

5. Restrict future opportunities

Your new employer has invested time interviewing you and has met your role and package expectations. If you reverse your acceptance it could have an impact if you wanted to join the business in the future

6. Comfort Zone

Are you being influenced by a fear of leaving your comfort zone? Moving jobs can be departure from your comfort zone making the idea of staying put very tempting. However, personal and professional development is best advanced when you are stretched

Leaving a company that you have been with for a long time can be difficult, particularly if you have been looked after and have had some great colleagues. Certainly, it is not an easy decision and one which carries both pro and cons.

Ultimately, be honest with yourself and make the decision best for YOU.

Of course the decision is completely in your hands, but our advice to you if presented with a counter offer – politely decline, shake hands, and move onto the next chapter of your career.

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