Are Counter-Offers a Poisoned Apple?

A guest post by Ryan Tiwari of Accounting Advantage

I have come across many people from time-to-time that ask me what to do should they receive a job offer from a new company and their current boss offers to either match, or exceed the compensation listed on the job-offer letter. You would be surprised how many people think that they should just take the counter-offer and stay at their current role. You would be even more surprised at their reactions when I tell them that they might as well be committing career-suicide.

Admiral Ackbar got it right

Like everyone’s favorite commander in Star Wars, a counter-offer is essentially a trap given by your current employer; to buy themselves time, to work on getting your replacement. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense: why keep someone around who has just indicated they wanted to leave? It does not add up. Your boss can’t afford to lose you in the 2 or 3 weeks’ notice period that you give them, but what about 2-to-3 months from now, when they have had time to find your replacement.

Your past comes back to haunt you

Once you indicate that you have obtained a new position, all of your most recent actions will come into question. All those times you were calling in “sick” or “running late” will suddenly pop up in your boss’ mind. It may be all smiles and handshakes in the meeting, but really, your boss will start to lose faith in you. For, should you accept the counter-offer, the next time you’re sick, or running late, they will doubt that you really are. All the trust, all the good-will that you spent months and years building up, will instantly evaporate.

Money is not everything…

Nor was it most likely the reason that you wanted to leave in the first place. Maybe it was growth, maybe it was location, and maybe it was the working environment. Do you really think money will solve any of those problems? You might as well be putting a Band-Aid on a wound that needs stitches. A few weeks or months go by (assuming they decided not to get rid of you before that), you will remember that you’re still not happy at your job and you will most likely end up leaving anyways.

Even if it was just money that you wanted…

Threatening to leave is no way to get what you want. You become a somewhat of an extortionist, someone who holds the company and others hostage, until their demands are met. No one likes to have their arm twisted, and your boss will definitely remember your actions – in a negative manner. Besides, if you get a “raise” out of it today, tomorrow, you better believe that there will be a ton of more work for you to do, after all, you’re getting paid more. Not to mention, the money they give you for that “raise”, comes from a budget, so if you get one today, when your performance-appraisal meeting comes around, odds are, you won’t be getting another one. Essentially you poison the well, just to break even.

Et tu, Brute?

Once trust is gone, it’s very difficult to regain. An employee that a boss cannot trust becomes a huge liability, and your loyalty to the organization will come into question… quite frequently, should you accept the counter-offer. You will become an outsider to your boss and everyone else around you.

Accepting a counter-offer does not do you any good…

What happens is you will lose. When you normally resign from a position, you are leaving on your terms. When you accept a counter-offer, you will leave… but on your employer’s terms. It might mean you’re first on the list for layoffs. Make no mistake, there’s a target on your back, and it does not say “promote”. You can go back and sit at your desk and pretend everything will be back to normal within a couple months, but chances are you won’t be around by then either.


Ryan Tiwari is a Staffing Manager with our Accounting Advantage division and is based in Toronto, Ontario Canada.  He focuses on successfully filling roles in the Accounting and Finance industries: Investor Relations Specialist, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Collections Representative, Pricing Analyst, Bookkeeper, Treasury Analyst, Recruiter, Payroll Administrator, and Accounting Assistant.  This article originally appeared on Ryan’s LinkedIn profile.


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