6 Reasons to Reject a Counteroffer

Considering that counteroffer? Here are a few reasons to say no.

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Luke Roney
You've accepted an offer to work for a new company and it's time to quit your current job. Shouldn't be too difficult.

You do all the right things: give notice, offer to help in the transition, finish projects, say thanks for the opportunity. But instead of just shaking your hand and wishing you good luck, your boss hits you with a counteroffer – one that includes more money, more vacation, and better benefits.

[See the 50 Best Careers.]

While a counteroffer can be flattering, chances are your boss has ulterior motives. Employee resignations can hurt a manager's record. Or, maybe, he or she wants to keep you on long enough to find a replacement. Perhaps it’s their motive  because it's cheaper to pay you a bit more than it is to recruit, hire, and train a new employee.

In some instances, accepting a counteroffer may be a good move. But before you say yes, consider these reasons why you should decline.

1. You had to quit to get a raise. Suddenly you became more valuable after you give notice? It should make you wonder why you weren't valuable enough to deserve a raise before–when you were coming into the office every day and dutifully attending to your job duties.

[See The 50 Best Places to Work for 2012.]

2. Things won't change. The frustration, the stifling feelings, and the dissatisfaction that led you to seek new job opportunities will remain, and it's unlikely that the bump in pay will make those things any more bearable. Whatever turned you off about your job prior to the new offer will continue to be irksome after you accept it.

3. You may be shunned. When you give notice, you are, in effect, dumping your boss. As in many types of relationships, the rebuffed party begins to bargain: Give me another chance. Things will get better. I can change! No one, after all, wants to be the dumpee. But once your boss' anxiety is eased and you've agreed to the counteroffer, new emotions will set in: resentment, suspicion, distrust. You will likely spend your remaining time at the company on the fringes–excised from the inner circle for your show of disloyalty (and coworkers may resent the raise and how you got it).

[See How to Quit Your Job.]

4. Job security will diminish. Your boss fought to keep you from quitting, sure. But when it comes time to lay off some people, it's a safe bet that you'll be somewhere toward the top of the list. Remember: Your boss wanted you to stay for his benefit, not yours. If he has the opportunity to get rid of you on his terms– now that you've revealed a willingness to be a turncoat–he’s likely going to take it.

5. You're going to leave anyway. Four out of five employees who accept counteroffers end up leaving the company within nine months, according to the recruiting firm CyberCoders. Review Nos. 1 through 4 for reasons why.

6. You've already accepted an offer. And what about the new job offer you already accepted?  By virtue of hiring you, that employer already has demonstrated a belief that you are valuable–and you haven't even had your first day yet. Your current employer, on the other hand, has begrudgingly offered you more money to get you to stay to suit his purposes. Also, leading on prospective employer–attending interviews, negotiating, accepting an offer, allowing the them to think the job has been filled–is a bad career strategy in general.

Luke Roney is content manager for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listings, company reviews, salary information and a free career happiness assessment.