should you accept a counter offer?

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written byContent Strategist, Remote Lifestyle & Career, EPAM Anywhere

With a focus on remote lifestyle and career development, Gayane shares practical insight and career advice that informs and empowers tech talent to thrive in the world of remote work.

With a focus on remote lifestyle and career development, Gayane shares practical insight and career advice that informs and empowers tech talent to thrive in the world of remote work.

Common knowledge says you should never accept a counter offer. Still, there are some reasons when a counter offer can work in your favor. You might have had every intention of leaving your job, but the new compensation package can be just what you need to stay.

So should you accept a counter offer or not? Let's find out.

Cases when accepting a counter offer is right

Since accepting a counter offer is ill-advised, there are only a few scenarios where staying with your current employer can work to your advantage.

Remember, there is a reason why you first decided to leave. You recognized an issue or problem (company complacency, payscale considerations, etc.) that you couldn’t resolve — any counter offer must respect that primary request. With that in mind, the company or you can make the necessary adjustments, turning the counter offer into an attractive possibility.

Salary compensation meets expectations

First and foremost, the counter offer will include an upgraded payment structure. Since the original company invested time and effort into you and your training, they want to continue that investment. It is far more expensive to rehire and retrain, so a salary increase is normal in most counter offers.

If you feel comfortable with the salary increase, it might make the situation with your current employer a win-win. Such a counter offer feels even more engaging if the primary reason you decided to quit involved compensation disagreements.

Significant life changes require a reevaluation

Another reason for accepting a counter offer involves acts beyond your control. Many life events can force you to reconsider whether or not you wish to stay in your current position.

For example, a major health crisis can alter plans. Or if the new job entails a cross-country move, you might have visa problems and immigration issues. A relationship change or reconnection with an old partner can also change your decision.

In such situations, the counter offer can be the perfect antidote. While other parts of your life are chaotic, it is helpful to stay with the routine you had with your original employer.

You acted in haste

We all have spent our days looking at job adverts. When things get tough, it is easy to bail. We can get swept up in a positive interview process or feel pressure from headhunters.

Often, after the dust has settled, it is easy to see that you made a hasty choice. The employer's response to your counter offer could be warm and welcoming, and the company could answer back with a list of changes that fit your requests. You just might want to stay and accept the offer after all.

Staying is significantly easier

Lastly, most people accept the counter offer because it is simple. Changing jobs is tumultuous, and that causes stress. There will be new coworkers to meet, technical interview questions to prepare for, routines to schedule, and a foreign office culture to learn. Plus, your new job might require extensive training or onboarding procedures. Sometimes it is easier to stay planted where you are.

3 reasons why you should not accept a counter offer

With the exceptions listed above, the overwhelming majority agree it is a bad idea to remain with an employer you have already decided to leave. Let's look at the reasons why you should never accept a counter offer.

The job requirements or conditions haven’t changed

In most cases, the company won’t be able to adjust to the changes you requested. You decided to leave for a reason, and if there is no direct proof of company action toward your concerns, the counter offer won’t improve your work conditions.

For many companies, certain employee requests are unfeasible: work hours, remote office locations, status increases, and company values. If you want change, bring such desires to your new employer instead.

The original position can’t support your career trajectory

Most people leave a job to accelerate their career path. Even a lateral move salary-wise can pay dividends — ambition is a key factor for a change of scenery.

In most cases, the possibilities and potential lie with your new employer. You negotiated a new and exciting opportunity, and the old employer will likely not be able to offer such career advancement in such a short time. Unless the employer's response to the counter offer states in clear words the new roles and responsibilities, you can find a more open, barrier-free career trajectory elsewhere.

All business relationships are fractured beyond repair

After you submit your notice, the current team dynamics are forever changed. Your loyalty will be questioned, even if you do accept the counter offer and return to your original role.

Without any initial trust, you will have painted a target on your back, and that can lead to passed promotions and relegation to less than desired tasks.

Some employers even use a counter offer as a delay tactic. You might be first on the chopping block now for future cuts as the company leverages what time is available before your replacement arrives.

Lastly, you might not also get the same levels of appreciation for work as relationships with other workers have strained. On the flip side, you might not feel very appreciated either. If the employer could have paid you the amount in the counter offer, why didn’t they? Were you not paid enough? It is common for both parties to feel used in such scenarios and a prime reason for why you should not accept a counter offer.

How to decline a counter offer politely

If you decide to reject the counter offer, attempt to save the working relationship. There is no need to burn bridges. Leaving a company in good standing can result in recommendations and job offers. Plus, it keeps your reputation intact. The following tips can teach you how to reject a counter offer politely:

  • Use the same communication method: If the company sent the counter offer to you through email, a response message is enough. For those who wish to talk in person, take the opportunity for a more intimate and positive farewell.
  • Express thanks and willingness to stay in touch: Let your employer know the gratitude you feel for the time you spent together. Make note of the helpful training moments and all the investments placed into your professional development. If possible, offer to maintain communication, as it could lead to future work opportunities.
  • Deliver the rejection in clear terms: When saying no, do not beat around the bush. There is no need to be harsh, but state the rejection in clear terms to avoid confusion.
  • Support onboarding: Under certain circumstances, offer to help with new recruits. If you have specialized knowledge related to your previous role, be sure to impart that to your replacement as a gesture of support to the company.

Should you tell your new employer about the counter offer?

Yes! You should tell your new employer about the counter offer, especially if you’re asking for more time to consider their job offer.

Regardless of your decision, your new employer will want to stay in the loop. Start the new work relationship on the right foot. Honesty will work to your advantage and might even lead to a counter-counter offer. You don’t have to divulge details, but keeping all parties informed is a common courtesy.

So should you accept a counter offer or not? Final considerations

At the end of the day, accepting a counter offer is a personal decision. Take time to consider all the different variables and do what is right for you and your career. Consult coworkers or friends for their opinion. Ask more questions before accepting the new job to see what awaits you. And if possible, invest in a mentor or industry expert to help you grasp the extent of your decision, as they will likely help you answer this burning question of “Should I accept a counter offer or not?”

Are you considering making a job change? Check out EPAM Anywhere and our jobs to search for open remote tech opportunities.

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published 28 Oct 2022
updated 23 Jan 2024
Gayane_Hakobyan.jpg
written byContent Strategist, Remote Lifestyle & Career, EPAM Anywhere

With a focus on remote lifestyle and career development, Gayane shares practical insight and career advice that informs and empowers tech talent to thrive in the world of remote work.

With a focus on remote lifestyle and career development, Gayane shares practical insight and career advice that informs and empowers tech talent to thrive in the world of remote work.

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