Counteroffer Dilemma: When to Accept and When to Walk Away


You've just been presented with a job offer - you feel pretty satisfied, right? You've negotiated wages, signing bonuses and other benefits, and it feels like a dream come true.

Until one minor issue shows up in the form of a counteroffer from your current employer.

Now you're faced with an age-old dilemma: should you accept the counteroffer and stay put, or take your new offer and move on? It can be tricky to make such a decision, especially when money is involved - after all, it's never easy to say goodbye to extra cash.


  • What Exactly Is a Counteroffer?
  • 4 Reasons Why Companies Provide Counteroffers
  • 5 Reasons to Accept a Counteroffer
  • 4 Reasons to Decline a Counteroffer
  • 4 Ways to Evaluate a Counteroffer

Let's take a look at the counteroffer dilemma like a coin: two sides that need careful consideration before coming to your conclusion.

What Exactly Is a Counteroffer?

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Ah, the age-old counteroffer conundrum. You've applied for a job and received THE offer – a big fat YES, congrats!

You were ready to march around with your head held high and start a new chapter in your life…but then something strange happens you get an unexpected response — the dreaded COUNTEROFFER.

So, what exactly is counteroffer? Well, think of it this way: It's like the boss saying, "I like the terms of the offer you've presented me, but can I change it up a bit just for kicks?" A counteroffer is really just a response to an offer.

At this point, you're likely thinking “Hey, this sounds like an even better deal than before — why not take it?

But remember, with any counteroffer, there can be consequences—so think things over carefully before you make your decision.

Why Companies Provide Counteroffers

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We've all heard stories of employees providing their employers with a notice of resignation, only to have the boss come up with a counteroffer to keep said employee.

What's really going on here? Are companies really that desperate to hold onto talent? Well, not exactly.

Existing employers often provide counteroffers and the primary reasons for providing counteroffers are:

1. Retention of valuable employees

Employers recognize the value and expertise of their current employees. Losing a skilled and experienced employee can be costly in terms of recruitment, training, and knowledge transfer.

Providing a counteroffer is a way to retain top talent and avoid disruption to ongoing projects or team dynamics.

2. Cost savings

It can be more cost-effective for employers to retain an existing employee than to hire and onboard a new one.

By offering a counteroffer, employers aim to keep an employee without incurring the costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement.

3. Avoiding knowledge loss

Long-standing employees often possess institutional knowledge and expertise that may be difficult to replace.

By offering a counteroffer, employers hope to retain these valuable assets and prevent the loss of critical knowledge that could affect productivity and business operations.

4. Preserving team dynamics

Employees often develop strong working relationships with their colleagues. When a valued team member announces their departure, it can disrupt the team's dynamics and morale.

Providing a counteroffer is an attempt to maintain the cohesion and productivity of the existing team.

It's important to note that while counteroffers can be enticing, employees should carefully evaluate the pros and cons before accepting. Factors such as long-term career growth, job satisfaction, and the reasons for considering the initial offer should be taken into account when making a decision.

Reasons to Accept a Counteroffer

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On one hand, accepting could mean pretty great stuff like increased salary, better long-term prospects, and even career advancement.

On the other hand, if you don't know what to look for in a counteroffer and don't negotiate properly then you might end up in an even worse position than before—not ideal.

Should you choose to accept, it’s likely that you’ll be in the 80% of people who leave within six months, or the 90% who leave within a year afterwards

But if you do decide to accept a counteroffer then there are some really great reasons why:

1. Improved Sense of Self-Worth

A well-crafted counteroffer can provide a much-needed boost of self-worth in the workplace—especially if it was your superior who came knocking with the deal.

This improved sense of self-worth can be enough to reignite passion and commitment within an individual, leading to greater career success over time.

2. Increased Salary and Benefits

If salary is your main concern, then accepting a counteroffer can help bridge the gap between what you're currently earning and what you're hoping to in future.

Sometimes, a counteroffer can include improved work-life balance arrangements, such as flexible working hours, remote work options, or reduced workload.

3. Familiarity and Comfort

Staying with your current employer means you already know the work environment, culture, and colleagues.

If you value the familiarity and feel a strong sense of belonging within the organization, accepting a counteroffer can provide a sense of stability and comfort.

4. Advancement Opportunities

When well structured, counteroffers can provide tangible opportunities for advancement and promotion within an organization—a valuable asset for any employee looking for career success!

In these scenarios, it's important to be clear about expectations from both parties so there's no surprises down the line.

5. Impact on Personal Life

Factors outside of work, such as family obligations, community involvement, or personal circumstances, can play a significant role in your decision.

If the counteroffer addresses any concerns related to your personal life and allows you to maintain a healthy work-life integration, it may be a reason to accept.

Reasons to Decline a Counteroffer

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It may not seem like a good idea to turn down money and potential job security, but counteroffers can come with caveats you didn't bargain for.

Here are some compelling reasons why declining a counteroffer may be in your best interest:

1. The employer does not value you

Counteroffers can be a sign that the employer did not originally value the employee.

In fact, the employer could be desperate to keep you on staff. This could lead to them offering more money without any real commitment to job satisfaction or advancement opportunities in the future.

2. Loyalty will be questioned

If you accept a counteroffer, it is likely that your loyalty and trustworthiness will come into question with your employer.

They may start viewing employees as replaceable commodities instead of trusted team members—not exactly an ideal environment for personal growth or career satisfaction down the road.

3. Continued dissatisfaction with job

Counteroffers can often fail to address underlying issues that prompted an employee to look elsewhere in the first place, such as inadequate compensation or lack of career advancement opportunities in the workplace.

This can lead to ongoing job dissatisfaction—ultimately leading back to point one about not feeling valued by employers.

4. Future Opportunities

By accepting a counteroffer, you may miss out on potential career growth and advancement opportunities that the new job offer presents.

The new role may offer better prospects, increased responsibilities, or exposure to new industries or technologies.

Consider whether the counteroffer aligns with your long-term career goals and whether it will limit your options for future professional development.

How to Evaluate a Counteroffer

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It's decision time! You've been presented with a counteroffer, and now you have to weigh the pros and cons of each scenario.

Don't let the company push you into a hasty decision—take your time and consider all aspects before signing on the dotted line.

Here's some factors to consider when evaluating the counteroffers:

1. Reflect on Your Initial Reasons

Recall the reasons that prompted you to consider the new job offer in the first place. Assess whether the counteroffer addresses those concerns adequately.

Consider factors such as compensation, career growth, work-life balance, job satisfaction, and any other relevant aspects.

2. Assess the Counteroffer's Components

Carefully review the details of the counteroffer, including the proposed salary, benefits, bonuses, additional responsibilities, promotion opportunities, and any other terms that may affect your decision.

Compare these components with your current situation and the new job offer.

3. Consider Long-Term Career Goals

Evaluate how the counteroffer aligns with your long-term career goals. Does it offer the potential for growth, advancement, and skill development?

Assess whether the counteroffer provides opportunities that are in line with your desired career trajectory.

4. Trust Your Intuition

Gut feelings and instincts can play a role in decision-making. Take into account your instincts and how you feel about the counteroffer and your current situation.

If something doesn't feel right or align with your values, it may be an indication that the counteroffer is not the best option for you.


In the end, the counteroffer dilemma boils down to this: make sure no matter what you decide, you know in your gut that it's the right choice for you.

Only you know the ins and outs of the situation and what you need in your career—so make sure you listen to the voice in your heart and trust your gut.

If the counteroffer looks too good to be true, remember that it just might be.

And if you decide to walk away, just remember: there's always a new opportunity on the horizon, and it might be even better than the one you had. Good luck!

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