Personal Finance

Should You Accept a Counteroffer?

Advertiser Disclosure This article/post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers or partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products or services.
Last updated on July 23, 2019 Comments: 8

Reader Aaron writes in with his latest workplace developments and a question. While working at my current job, I have been interviewing for a new position with the same company. The new position is at a significantly higher level with a title to match, a higher salary, a better commute, and what seems to be a friendlier environment. Last night, I was offered the new position. So, this morning I prepared my resignation letter but told my manager in person of my intentions without officially resigning. To my surprise, she presented a counteroffer that seems slightly better than the offer for my new position. Should I entertain the counteroffer?

I’m not an expert on career advice; if I were, I’d be much farther along in my professional career. Yet, a similar situation happened to me last year when I took my latest position with my company. For me it was easy; the counteroffer did not match my new offer. When informing my manager of my intentions to take a new position, her response was, “But I was just about promote you…” (Long overdue, in my opinion, of course.) The promotion wouldn’t have matched my new offer, so the decision was easy for me. If a manager makes a serious counteroffer, it can be difficult to work out the best thing to do, because you have to weigh factors other than numbers.

If you’re looking for a new position, most likely you are unhappy in your current position for one reason or another. It may just be about the money and title, so if the counteroffer fixes those problems, and you truly don’t mind sticking around, feel free to stay. But if you’re like most people, it’s not just the money and title. There is some aspect of the working condition that is not a good match for your personality or philosophy. If that is the case, don’t even consider staying. You should never have to suffer longer than absolutely necessary in a situation for which you have a better alternative.

Also if you stick around after accepting a counteroffer it may change the dynamic of the relationship between you and your manager — or worse, you and your co-workers if they know of your situation. If your current manager is offering you more money and you take the counteroffer for that reason, she may end up resenting you and you may resent your choice to stay. Sometimes it’s better to get a fresh start… without burning your bridges behind you as you leave.

Article comments

Anonymous says:

I think when you’re relativley young, jobs are all about where they will get you rather what they give you now. Having an offer and counteroffer is no different really than having two different offers. Which one would you take?

Anonymous says:

Take the new job. A fresh start can do wonders for you. A shorter commute? Better environment? You’ll be better off mentally and physically with these two benefits alone! Bumping you up to the next job level would, I imagine, put you lower on that level’s pay scale, so you may see better raises in the future. Bumping your salary while staying at the same job level may put you on the high side of that job level’s pay scale, so future raises may not be that great.

New experiences can only help your future employability.

Anonymous says:

Now, lets pretend to ignore office politics and whether you wanted to change jobs for personal reasons.

For purely financial reasons, a counteroffer matching another offer is likely a bad idea. Say you make $40k and you have been looking for a raise for a while. You get another job offer of $55k and your current boss offers to match it. Their value of you will invariably be less than $55k, but they want to keep you to avoid turnover. On the other hand, the people making you the new offer value you at $55k right off the bat, knowing that you will have to learn a bit to perform in the new position.

Lets look a year down the road, where your ‘real’ value is, say $60k. Your new boss would probably be likely of giving you that raise as you are probably worth that much more in your new position. However, your old boss may think you aren’t even worth the $55k yet.

Take the new job

Anonymous says:

“The new position is at a significantly higher level with a title to match, a higher salary, a better commute, and what seems to be a friendlier environment.”

I think you answered your own question. If the salary is equal, then a higher level, title, better commute, and friendlier environment win out every time. (The only way I would take a job that loses in those categories is if they are fairly similar, just a little lower, and if I were earning quite a bit more salary).

You will be staying in the same company, so your benefits and seniority level remain unchanged. I would recommend *gracefully* declining your boss’s offer and tell her you are looking for a new personal and professional challenge.

Anonymous says:

Good thoughts. Focus on total satisfaction as opposed to cash only is an important, common sense recommendation that we still manage to overlook.

Anonymous says:

nah, fresh start is always good, especially your intention has been exposed

Anonymous says:

I don’t see any reason not to take the counteroffer if you are happy in your current division. However, the real issue seems to be why you didn’t ask for a promotion or higher salary from your current division in the first place. after all, you were “surprised” that your manager made a counteroffer. What was it that made you look into a different division in the first place? answer that, and then make the decision. If all things are equal, then I’d accept the counteroffer; however, you should look a the bigger picture of upward mobility if you are into that, or chances for raises in the future.

Anonymous says:

If you are considering moving jobs anyway then I agree that its probably not a good idea to take the counteroffer. Money is never the only thing that makes you move.

If truly the only reason you want to move is for more money, and they don’t offer you any more until you want to hand in your resignation, then do they really value you anyway?