Why You Should Avoid The Sexy Stench Of Counter Offers

by Rich DeMatteo on April 7, 2011 · 5 comments

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Laura is based out of Calgary, Alberta Canada, where she spends her weekends snowboarding in Canada’s Rocky Mountains. Laura is an active blogger at IT Matters Canada!. Laura started her blog  to help others go beyond  their career potential and find fulfillment in what they do. She also works at a leading IT firm as a senior IT recruiter pulling in her nine years of recruiting experience from multiple cities, verticals and even hemispheres. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Going through the recruiting process is not a fun one. It’s the courtship on the professional level: initial interview, technical interview, coffee meetings, meeting the team, negotiations… it is a serious process that no one likes to do too often in their careers!

There is a reason a candidate will go through this process.  It’s often a level of dissatisfaction in their current role that will inspire a person to look beyond their partition and into a whole new world.  One with potentially greater opportunity.

This dissatisfaction can be on multiple levels. It can be a career ceiling, being set up for failure, not providing enough support, bad management or leadership, toxic environments, or money. It could be all of these things wrapped up with deaf ears that either ignore or refuse to accept the cries for help from their ‘valued’ employees.

So the courtship begins  with someone else.  All of a sudden the candidate sees just how valuable their skill set and experience is. “Wow!” they think, “I have not been valued by my boss AT ALL!”

The candidate gets an offer that checks off all of their wants.   Greater opportunity, support mechanisms for growth and achievement, more cash, and a dynamic team environment and projects. They know this is the right move for them.

When the time comes to dump their current employer, the proverbial hits the fan. Current boss freaks out, and starts showering them with the promise of more resources, better profile, and more money.  Not until they are faced with the possibility of losing them, do they realize how valuable their employee is.

And I think that sucks. Why does it take SO LONG for a manager to start listening?  What kind of respect is that? What’s taken you so long to realize that this great employee is worth something?

For those of you in the position of being countered by their current company: listen up. When you are presented with a counter offer, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is my company’s track record on keeping their word? What is the likelihood of them actually delivering on the promises they are making to me in order to keep me from leaving? Is this just another case of empty promises?
  • Now that my  manager knows that I am prepared to leave, how will they regard my future loyalty as an employee? Will this have an adverse effect on my  tenure if things go bad, or when my project ends
  • Even though I have been promised all these wonderful things, will I actually be satisfied?
  • Remembering my reasons for going through the recruitment process in the first place, do these new promises measure up or do they fall short?

In my experience as a recruiter, I would  guess that the vast majority of counter offers I’ve seen candidates accept, those same candidates have come back to me in three to six months time, still miserable with their situation and still wanting a change that they were promised and have not seen.

Make sure you consider what they have to say, as well as what is being left unsaid.

Here’s to your job search!


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That would be a great thing to hear from a current employer, if only so you could have an opportunity to tell them "Eff you." Which is basically what they had been telling you all this time that they had NOT realized your value, right?

Just some guy...
Just some guy...

I couldn't agree more. If it takes another offer to get what you deserve, then fuck your current job and fuck your current boss.

Laura Vezer
Laura Vezer

Thanks for your thoughts, Corey! You're right - it's always a good idea to decline a counter offer from your employer with dignity and respect. You never know when you might need them again!

Corey Witt
Corey Witt

Hi Laura, Awesome topic that doesn't get much attention. I think once you a job seeker finds a new job that they think they will happy with, they just need to go with it and not look back. Try to be as polite and diplomatic as possible when declining the counter-offer, because if they new job doesn't work out, their might be a possibility of coming back to the first company if things do not work out at the second company. I think one exception to my opinion is if the old company would be willing to sign you a contract which specifically outlines employment and any issues you have. - Corey Urban Interns http://www.urbaninterns.com