Why You Should Never Accept A Counter-Offer

Posted by Adam Hoffarber on 7/17/19 9:20 AM
Adam Hoffarber
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In recent months we’ve seen a rise in the number of counter-offers offered to candidates as sought after skills becoming harder to find. As the labor market improves, we expect to see the number and strength of these counter-offers increase.

At SkyWater Search, the counter-offer scenario is an aspect of the hiring process we cover with all of our candidates and our advice from a career perspective is...you guessed it; don’t accept a counter-offer!

The majority of candidates who accept a counter-offer (some studies suggest over 90%) either quit their job or are back on the market within a year. Most will leave within the first six months after they’ve accepted a counter-offer.

As you bask in the ego-boosted glow of your counter offer, we’ll try and explain our reasoning, derived from years of recruitment experience:

Counter offers can be flattering. Finally, you’ve grabbed your boss’s attention; after all the years of trying you feel wanted and valued by your employer – at last!

Of course you do. You’re causing them a major headache and the onus is on them to keep you in place until such time as they can hire your replacement.

Here’s why:

  • Hiring costs are expensive. The cost of a bad hire means those costs spiral. Replacing a departing employee probably isn’t in their budget plans right now.
  • Effective hiring takes time. If your company is in the middle of a big project, planning a conference or is currently submitting a major bid to a potential new client, your resignation letter is a temporary inconvenience – no more than that. If you’re a key part of those projects, it makes your imminent departure all the more inconvenient.
  • Training a new employee can be as time consuming as the hiring process itself. Again, enticing you to stay until your boss decides on the next step will be the primary aim.
  • Losing a team member may not reflect well on your manager.

If that’s not enough to stop you in your tracks, consider this; the hiring process takes time, effort and commitment on the part of you, the applicant.

The majority of candidates only apply for other jobs as a last resort influenced by a number of factors. It’s not all about the money. An increase in salary may be welcome but most candidates are attracted by intangible benefits such as work/life balance, better culture fit and improved career development prospects.

If you forget all of those reasons and decide to stay, remember:

  • You can no longer be trusted by your employer. Expect to be side-lined on important projects and excluded from crucial meetings.
  • The pay raise you just accepted is the last you will see for a while.
  • You can be bought. Period.
  • It’s taken you waving a resignation letter for your boss to listen to you. Are you with a company that truly values its employees?
  • It’s unlikely the issues that caused you to seek an alternative job in the first place will have disappeared.
  • Your boss will be searching for your replacement immediately.
  • You’ll be top of the list if your company reduces its headcount in the future.
  • If you’ve secured your job through a recruiter, it’s unlikely they will consider you for future positions when you find yourself back on the job market. You’re no longer trustworthy.

In summary

Take it from us, accepting the counter offer is never a good idea but if you receive one in the near future, remember:


  • Anticipate a counter-offer and prepare your response.
  • Be sure to get the offer in writing.
  • Evaluate it thoroughly – is it more than a simple pay raise? What does it offer for your long-term career prospects?
  • Check whether or not it includes training.
  • Recognize that you it’s unlikely you’ll receive another pay rise in the foreseeable future.


  • Be distracted by your ego and the sudden unprecedented attention.
  • Forget your reasons for looking for another job initially. Those reasons won’t go away.
  • Accept the offer instantly – take your time to reflect on it.
  • Believe in the promises made if you’ve heard it all before (and nothing changed then either).
  • Expect a sudden turn-around in company culture and transparency – it won’t happen.

Ask the SkyWater Community

Are you conflicted while you choose between accepting a new job offer or a counter-offer  from your current employer? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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