The Truth About Counteroffers

March 4th, 2010 | Counteroffers | 3 Comments »


Congratulations! You just received an offer for an exciting new opportunity! But wait, now that it’s a reality, what’s next? You put in your notice with your current employer and you’re all ready and excited to start your new career. Imagine your surprise when suddenly your current employer gives you a counteroffer. Bet you never expected that one!

It may look shiny and exciting, but under all that glitter, what exactly is a counteroffer? Ultimately, it’s an attempt to entice you to stay. A counteroffer is not typically your employer suddenly reviewing your performance or rethinking budget allocations. Their job is to take care of both their employees and their business productivity. When you leave, you upset the balance between those, which is clearly a cause for worry for your employer.

Counteroffers happen more than you’d think, especially in the IT industry. So be prepared! Consider the thought process of your current employer. They think you’re happy and loyal to the company. When you hand in your notice, they assume that you’re no longer happy or loyal. You’ve taken control, and this may shock them. What will they do with your current projects? How will they find someone new to fill your shoes? The hiring process can be lengthy, time consuming, and costly. Combine this with the fact that they will soon feel the hurt from having your position empty, and you’ve caused a major commotion!

So how do they handle it all? Simple! They will offer you more money, a nice new title with more responsibility, or even extended benefits – basically, something to regain that balance for a while. Awesome, you may think! These new terms might seem tempting enough to reject your new offer.

Wait! Keep in mind that when you first turned in your notice, you were – in the eyes of your employer – communicating unhappiness and disloyalty, and this can never be reversed. Inevitably, this will lead to your employer letting you go a month or two or even six down the road – however long it takes them to find someone to fill your shoes; someone who will be happier and more loyal.

So how do you avoid this whole miserable situation? Think about why you initially started your job search and decided to make the move. A counteroffer rarely, if ever, is a solution to your original problems with the company or your role within it. It’s an emergency fix, and once you get over the surprise and novelty of it, the same reasons for your original leaving will return to haunt you.

Before you even send out your resume for another opportunity, make sure you’re clear about the reasons why you’re leaving. Ask yourself honestly if these reasons could be resolved by some form of counteroffer and don’t let yourself get trapped in a situation where you might later regret it.

In conclusion, counteroffers are all too common and are not special treatment. Be prepared and understand your employer’s motives behind the counteroffer. Remind yourself why you’re leaving in the first place, and be careful not to get trapped by the consequences of taking a counteroffer.

Teresa Olsen – IT Search Manager at Ashley Ellis

Related Links

How to Effectively Use Recruiters in Your Job Search
10 Tips to a Successful Interview
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3 Responses to “The Truth About Counteroffers”

  1. Mihir says:

    Hi Teresa,
    Nicely written, good for all the newbies in the IT industry.

  2. Ron Grimes says:

    Your article has relevance for those who are looking for jobs for reasons other than compensation dissatisfaction. But, I don’t believe your advice holds true for those who are looking primarily because of compensation dissatisfaction.

    For the latter category, the fact of the matter is this. Often, your boss may want to pay you what you’re worth, but his/her hands are tied by H/R and executive board policies. All corporations (or, just about all) are stupid when it comes to compensation. They gave the same 3-5% annual increase to everyone, regardless of merit. As an employee, I know this. I can either live with it or do something about it. The “something about it” is unfortunately that I must go out and get a better job offer – an offer I would be more than happy accepting should my current employer not counter. I can then take this offer lettter to my employer and, in essence, say, “Here! I have now proven that this is what I should be making. You can take this to the top and get approval to give me the increase that I’m worth, or you can consider this as my resignation.”

    I’ve only had to do that twice in the last 10 years, but it’s a tactic that has paid off handsomely.

  3. Clare Saumell says:


    Thanks for your response. I thought your comment was worthy of more discussion in the topic of counteroffers, so I’ve written a new article discussing the matter. Find it at:

    Thanks again