Received a counter offer? Here's what you can do.

You applied for another job and got it. Go you! You’ve done all the hard yards of applying for a job, getting to the interview, getting excited about taking on something new and a new team.  What’s next?  You have to quit your current job. Unless you are unhappy and relishing the chance to say see you later, this is often the hardest part of the process in your new career journey.

So, what happens if your current employer doesn’t want you to leave and they offer incentives or promises to get you to stay? You are now dealing with a counter offer. Maybe you didn’t see it coming, or maybe you should have. Either way, it’s on the table now and you have to deal with it. Losing your skills, experience and knowledge from their business is one thing employers do not want. They know how hard it is to find a good replacement for a good employee and by getting you to stay they know they will save themselves a lot of hard work.

Now more than ever employers are likely to make counter offers so it’s important to be prepared and think about what you want to do. Not sure where to start with this? In this blog, we share tips of what you can do once you receive a counter offer.

Should you stay or should you go?
What is a counter offer?

A counter offer is a proposal made by your current employer when they become aware of your intentions to leave their company. The offer is made with the hope that you will stay with the company. Most people receive a counter offer because they are leaving to work elsewhere. A counter offer could be around increasing salary, a promotion to a new role, gain greater responsibilities, moving to a new team; the list of items on the  counter offer table are vast and will depend on what your employer has to offer and what your reasons for leaving are. Basically, the offer is anything the employer thinks will motivate you to stay with them. 

Beware false promises

There are several options here – you can accept and move to a new role, deal done; or you could review the offer and go back to your prospective new employer and see if they will match it; or you can stay and take the counter offer.

If this is your first time receiving a counter offer, here’s what you can do to navigate the process:

Assume you’re going to receive a counter offer

Make a list of the pros and cons of your current job and the new job. Compare the jobs side by side. Is it all about tasks, culture, management issues, salary – what are the key things that are really driving you to take the other role and not stay where you are? Remember that whilst money is important and can be a key driver, there are other things that affect us in our day to day work. Working out what will really make you happy is important. We suggest you compare a range of areas such as:

  • Team fit
  • Management/Leadership style
  • Salary
  • Tasks
  • Career progression
  • Job satisfaction
  • Company values

If you don’t like the work environment, no amount of added perks will ever change that in the future. It is important to understand the whole value of the new job offer.

Understand that counter offers are about the employer, not you

It is flattering to receive a counter offer; we want to feel wanted and valued. However, be warned and understand that a counter offer is always about solving the employer problem and not yours. You’ve presented your resignation letter and they will now have the difficult task of finding a suitable candidate to replace you. It’s a project they do not want to add to their to-do list. Hiring a new staff member takes resources, time and money out of the day to day core focus of the business. On top of this, there is the unseen cost of replacing the organisational knowledge, training, lost productivity and revenue.

It’s usually easier for the employer if you don’t leave. A counter offer may also keep you around long enough for them to plan for your inevitable departure or, look for a suitable replacement. They may now realise how hard it would be to replace you, a smart employer will always want to cover that gap in their business.  That is why it’s important to contemplate the next few steps.

Role-play a counter offer situation

Find a trusted colleague and role-play the situation with them. Practice your response and feel comfortable saying it out loud. Prepare yourself and make sure you know why you are really leaving. List three key motivators for changing your job and share these with your current employer. Being prepared is important as when the counter offer happens it could be a more emotional reaction than logical. Knowing why you are leaving and being able to point these things out will ensure you are in control of your resignation process.  

You will burn some bridges

Whether you accept or reject the counter offer, you need to know that you will burn a bridge with someone. You’ve spent interview time with the new employer and turning them down will mean they’ll have to start over, they will have been thinking you have a start date and perhaps even told other applicants they weren’t successful. They may also see you as unprofessional and not consider you for future roles. Meanwhile, your current employer might now be questioning your loyalty to them the future; you have shown them that you are happy to move on and they may not have full trust in your commitment to the team. It’s important to think about how this will impact you personally and prepare for this.

Not sure how to resign? If you choose to resign, use our tips for resigning the right way.


Receiving a counter offer definitely brings risk and uncertainty. Don’t allow guilt or anxiety to make a decision for you. Understand and analyse your situation and career path clearly before making the move. Focus on the good things waiting for you and move forward with confidence.

Whatever you choose to do, remember to thank your current employer for the good bits. The learning, growth and professional experience they’ve provided is what has enabled you to be in this situation of receiving a counter offer!

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