Ah, the dangerous allure of counter offers… This happens all too often, and if you look into it, you will realise why 95% of the time it is a very…bad…idea.


Obviously there is a reason you wish to leave your job in the first place and move to another one; you could be feeling underappreciated, undervalued, underpaid or just not getting the respect you deserve. If you hand in your resignation it is like you are firing your boss, not the other way round and they obviously won’t like it.


There are certain things your boss will say to deter you from leaving, but you must read between the lines and understand what these things really mean.


For example “But we need you” = “we need you until this project/financial year/ target is done, and we can find a replacement.”

And “we didn’t realise you were unhappy” = “we didn’t think you were that serious about being unhappy”. Don’t fall for the guilt trip!


Counter offers will only be counter-productive for your career. The fact that you want to move means you are looking to move forward in your career and if this was happening in your present job, you wouldn’t be considering moving.


If you are given a counter offer, this means the company already had that money to spare… so why did they not just offer you that in the first place?   Recognise that you are being undervalued and taken advantage of.


And it is very likely you will be being taken advantage of again if you accept the counter offer, as the main reason for offering it to you is so that they are in control of the timetable for your leaving. You generally have to give a notice period when handing in your resignation and that means the company only has that long to fill your position. As I work for a recruitment company, I understand this is a long process and the chances of finding the perfect someone for that role in that timeframe are very slim.


Once you accept the counter offer – the ball is now in their court, and the balance of power is reversed. The boss can take however long they want to find this perfect candidate, look through as many CV’s as they want, have as many interviews as they wish, and when they do find that special someone… POOF. You’re history. Are you regretting taking that counter offer yet?


So don’t fall into the trap of thinking “better to be safe than sorry,” and stay in your comfort zone as in actual fact, it’s not guaranteed that you will be safe.


Even if this doesn’t happen and they have no immediate plans to let you go, once the immediate relief of not having to fill your gap dies down you will start to be seen as untrustworthy and disloyal; maybe even a traitor to the company, if you will.

From that moment onwards the company will be suspicious of what you’re doing. You can’t be in a relationship with someone and flirting with someone else and still be considered virtuous: you will be dropped from the relationship quicker than you can say P45.


 You’ve already shown you are willing to move and this creates unnecessary, awkward tension. They’ll be waiting for you to do it again… another reason to drop you as soon as they have someone to cover that position, or as soon as redundancies are on the horizon.

And this awkward tension won’t just be with your boss and managers; it could also be with co-workers. Don’t be surprised if they act differently towards you now you are being paid more than them.   Whilst this does not jeopardise your job, it could be awkward and uncomfortable and that’s not something you want to deal with at your place of work, is it?


I said at the start – 95% of the time it is a bad idea for all kinds of reasons, and the industry average is 6 months – ie the vast majority of people who accept a counter offer are back on the market within 6 months.  But by then they have lost that dream job they were offered.  And now they have been sacked or made redundant – which looks a lot worse on their CV than if they had left in the first place.


So beware of the dangerous allure of counter-offers.


Tom Duffy