Your resignation letter landed on their desk and your boss feels a rush of panic. In a desperate plea to convince you to stay they may have thrown the moon at you. An almost irresistible counter offer with promises of nothing but rainbows and butterflies.

CAUTION: Hazard Ahead!

Counter offers are tricky business and there are lots of warning signs you need to be wary of when considering your options. Here are four important questions we suggest job seekers ask themselves when faced with a counter offer.

Why weren’t you valued before?

Why did it take the prospect of your resignation to propel them into action and value you at the rate you value yourself? Where is this money coming from? Is this really a salary increase or just your raise coming early? In some cases the reason behind counter offering is more to do with inconvenience than valuing you as an employee. It may even be a ploy to buy the time they need to find a replacement for you at a lower price.

What will it be like if you decide to stay?

The cat’s out of the bag. Your boss is now well aware you were unhappy and seeking out greener pastures. Doubt has now been cast on your loyalty and there is a loss of trust. Are you really going to a dentist appointment? Why are you dressed particularly nice today?

Think about what the work dynamics will be like if you decide to stay. There may be a hanging fear that you are still looking to fly the coop, as well as feelings of betrayal, abandonment and dishonesty.

What were 3 key reasons for wanting to leave?

Money is almost never the sole reason for deciding to resign. In fact, it becomes less important the further up the corporate ladder you climb. When considering a counter offer, revisit three key reasons you wanted to leave in the first place. Have those reasons changed? Does this counter offer address some of the pitfalls that you wanted to leave behind?

If any employer does promise change, tread carefully. You don’t want to be burned by empty promises. Consider whether the problem is habitual or circumstantial. Any problems you have with the company related to ongoing behaviours, habit and ingrained culture are highly unlikely to change.

Are you willing to burn bridges with future employers?

You went through the interview process, you met with key management, shook hands with the team you’ll be working with, negotiated a salary and benefits package and were presented with an attractive offer… and then you pulled the rug out from under them. Ouch. Employers invest a lot of time and resources into the hiring process and having your hopeful new recruit pull out at the last minute hurts.

This is when it really helps to take a step back and look at the big picture. Is this a company that I would like to work with in the future? Will rejecting their offer tarnish my reputation not just within the company but also in the industry as well?


Counter offers rarely provide a long-term benefit to the employer or the employee. Consider all your options and the consequences involved. With any career-related move, try not to lose focus of the big picture and be clear about where each step is taking you. It can take a brave face and strong resolve to say no to a generous counter offer, but it may just be the thing that saves your career in the long run.