The Counter Offer: Accept or Decline?

By Richard J. Carroll Sr., Sr. VP at Grafton Engineering

During your career, you will most likely seek to leave or be recruited away from your current place of employment. When that happens, as a professional, you will give your employer the obligatory two weeks notice. You do this because, in most cases,  you never want to burn a bridge and probably because you really enjoyed working there. Also, you have true respect for your team mates.

Then one of three things may happen depending on company policy.

First, they may ask you to leave that very day, which is perfectly normal as you are no longer a loyal company associate. There may be sensitive information that you should not have access to.

Second, they may allow you to stay until your two weeks is up as they need your support to finish the project you may be working on. And to some degree they trust you.  But this does not seem to be the case in most instances.

Third, they give you a Counter Offer to stay… and this is where it becomes interesting. Now you think you have a choice to make… stay or go. However, in reality do you? Remember, whatever the reason, you were looking to leave. You carefully weighed all the alternatives and came to the realization that it was better for your career to make a change.

So ask yourself, why now?

Why are you getting the offer now? What changed in the company that made them realize you are now worth more? Now you have to review what their offer consists of and how it will impact your career both short and long term. It’s easy to say yes and stay because change is always difficult, but is it the right decision?

Now let’s look at it from the employers point of view because there are a multitude of factors to consider: Why are you leaving? Why now? How will it affect the company? Can they find your replacement? Can they really afford to keep you and if so for how long? If they raise your pay, how many others will want the same? Are you a key player or just on the margins? How do they see you short and long term?

The key question you should be asking yourself is: what if I accept and then they find a replacement that is better and not as expensive? After all, you have already showed them that you are ready and willing to leave, so why should they be loyal to you? In fact, you may have disrupted the organization, so while they may say they want you to stay, they are probably beginning a search for your replacement.

Counter Offers: Accept or Decline?Research shows that you will probably leave in six months or less after accepting a counter offer, either by their choice or yours.

So, you really don’t have a choice when it comes to a counter offer, if you are being honest with yourself. You mentally checked out when you accepted the other job offer, and you really had your mind made up to leave then. While the counter offer may be flattering, it is probably not in your best interests and that is what is most important — your best interests.

So, say thank you, leave on good terms, and enjoy your new opportunity! You earned it!