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Why Job Seekers Should Not Accept a Counteroffer

by Angie Carson

After 2020 and the uncertainty of the job market that followed, it’s no surprise that a career change fell to the bottom of many worker’s priorities. Many people felt lucky enough just to have a job; looking for a new place of work was no longer on their radar—even if they were unhappy. 

Jobseekers Return to the Job Market

Now that markets are beginning to open up, we’re seeing more workers resuming their old job search. Likely, the reasons that had them looking for a change before the pandemic didn’t go away:

  • Poor management
  • Lack of professional development
  • Lack of flexibility

The list goes on.

When workers choose to accept another position, typically, there is a rush to keep them on board. Counteroffers are made to avoid the costly tasks of sourcing and recruiting a suitable replacement. And then there’s the cost of training the replacement to get them up to the speed and proficiency of the previous employee.

Why Employees in Transition Shouldn’t Take a Counteroffer

A counteroffer may sound tempting. But evidence shows that when workers make up their minds to leave, it’s probably for a good reason. Here is why employees should stick to their decision to leave.

Typically, the reasons that had someone looking for a change are not fixed simply by throwing more money at the problem. A counteroffer may be a useful short-term fix. But often, longer-term problems remain. Studies show that 80% of people who accept a counteroffer are unhappy and back on the job hunt within 12 months. 

There are many reasons not to accept a counteroffer:

  1. Nothing changes: Accepting more money rarely solves the problem of job dissatisfaction, lack of career progression, or the feeling of being unappreciated.
  2. More money, more problems:  Many employers avoid costly replacements with a counteroffer. But it rarely stops there. Many employers believe the pay increase comes with strings attached. Whether it’s increased availability after hours or weekends or requiring an increase in productivity, workers are often surprised to find their counteroffer includes more than they bargained for.
  3. Cheap Boss: A counteroffer is often a sure sign of a boss who underappreciates their staff. If they’re willing to offer a raise when an employee threatens to leave, chances are, they’ve been getting away with underpaying valuable employees for too long. 
  4. Loyalty schmoyalty: Once an employee discusses their decision to leave with the boss, that is often a conversation that can’t be put back in the box. Many employees who accept a counteroffer are surprised to find their loyalty to the company is much more scrutinized than before.

The Pull for Employees to Stay is Real

It can be easy to become comfortable in the day-to-day routine that comes so naturally after being at a company for a while. Paired with a counteroffer, it’s no surprise many people would opt for the easy option. But it’s rarely ever that simple or easy in the long run.

Job seekers need to keep in mind the reasons they were looking for new employment in the first place. They are probably good reasons. Those who stand their ground and leave professionally could discover a world of opportunity awaiting them in their new role!


Are you considering a career change? We can help! At Versique, we are advocates for workers who are looking for more. Contact us today and discover what opportunities await you in your next role!

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