The Counter Offer

A ‘counter-offer’ is a proposal from your employer with the intention of convincing you to to stay with your present company. Typically presented when you are about to offer your resignation, this last-ditch overture from your boss can be very flattering and even rather lucrative.

Sounds pretty good, right?


When faced with losing quality talent – such as yourself – it’s perfectly understandable that your boss will do (almost) anything to retain you and your skills. After all, replacing employees is an arduous and costly task. However, accepting The Counter Offer might be the worst-possible career decision.

If you are about to resign and embark on a change in career, you won’t have made such a decision lightly. Therefore, it is essential to remind yourself of your reasons for leaving before you meet with your boss. While “more money” is an acceptable answer, there are other tangible motivations that your new role can offer. These might include:

  • – Better career prospects and future opportunities
  • – Professional growth and new challenges
  • – Inflexible working hours or excessive business travel
  • – Your company’s performance, or the wider direction of the business

Your boss will explore your motives for wanting a new job and (gasp) may even disparage your reasons for leaving in an attempt to exploit any uncertainties, before extending the soothing, comforting balm of The Counter Offer. Your boss is hoping you will be dissuaded from leaving by (brace yourself):

  • – A salary increase
  • – A promotion or change in role
  • – Additional benefits

A calculating careerist may have used their resignation as a power-play to trigger an improved salary package and/or a promotion and has no intention of leaving the company. Kudos to their Machiavellian traits. The Counter Offer can be very attractive – but beware accepting one:

  • – Your loyalty is in doubt. Managers don’t usually relish ultimatums from subordinates, and will start thinking: ‘What happens the next time you feel undervalued?’
  • – You’ll need to secure a timetable for future performance reviews. Only now are you being fairly compensated or recognised, when this could have been offered weeks or even months earlier.
  • – Your boss will inevitably begin considering your potential replacement, now the idea of life after you has been floated and you just increased your cost to the department
  • – Have the real reasons for your resignation been adequately addressed?


The Counter Offer is designed to cloud your judgement, mixing the allure of a salary increase with pangs of sympathy for your manager’s plight – but if you’ve made your mind up to resign, don’t be swayed from your objective:

NEVER accept The Counter Offer!