Two Big Reasons Not to Accept that Counter Offer

Back when I joined OpenView, my very first blog post was about making a career move and the things that you should consider when making that decision. In that post I spoke briefly about counter offers — now, two years later, I would like to go back to that subject and dig in a bit deeper.

As a recruiter for OpenView and our portfolio companies, I’m consistently striving to land the very best talent possible. By nature, these candidates are top performers in their field, and they contribute a lot to their companies. That typically means the last thing those companies want to hear is that they’re leaving for another opportunity! In addition to surprise and dismay, the company’s response will often include a counter offer promising more money, a promotion, or maybe even a different position better suited to the candidate’s goals.

My advice for candidates who receive counter offers? Don’t just immediately accept them. Stop, relax, and consider the following…

Two Big Reasons Not to Accept a Counter Offer

There’s no denying counter offers are enticing. After all, making a move is scary. Add some extra incentive not to take the risk and instead stay in the place where you’ve been successful and comfortable? That’s hard to resist.

Beware though, accepting that counter offer may not be the right decision in the long run. Here’s why.

1) The Reasons You Were Looking to Leave May Not Change

The most common reasons for looking at a career change are culture, career growth, and challenging/interesting work. If you take a counter offer, really think about whether or not that will solve the problems you were having before deciding to look for a change.

If you were offered more money, the answer is probably no. If your current company offers you a promotion or a different role, think about the position and how it fits in the company. Are they just changing your title? Did they create a new role for you that doesn’t really fit? You want to make sure that they aren’t simply putting a Band-Aid over your problems — all Band-Aids come off eventually.

2) You Now Have a Target on Your Back

If you’ve received a counter offer that means you’ve told your current employer that you have received an offer from another company and that you are considering taking it. Your employer isn’t dumb. They can assume that means you have interviewed with at least one (but most likely more) new companies. While they may want you to stay they know that you tried to leave and may try again. As a result, your name may be one that comes up when cuts need to be made, or they may even start looking for your replacement.

I’m not suggesting that will definitely be the case, or that accepting a counter offer is always a bad idea. What I am saying is that it’s not a decision that should be made based on the thrill of more money, being wanted, or staying in a comfortable place.

In the end, your decision should come down to determining which offer presents the most career growth potential and the best chance for you to be happy.

What’s your take on counter offers? Let me know in the comments below!

Photo by: Nicolas Raymond

Meghan Maher
Meghan Maher
Senior Talent Manager, Engineering

Meghan Maher is Senior Talent Manager, Engineering, actively recruiting top talent for OpenView and its Portfolio Companies. Her tech background has helped OpenView hire for nearly 20 IT and engineering positions. Meghan began her career at AVID Technical Resources, where she was a Technical Recruiter for two years.
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