Should you take advantage of a counteroffer? 

If you’re on the job hunt, a counteroffer can be a tempting proposition. After all, what’s not to like about being offered a competitive salary raise or promotion? While these enticing incentives may make you feel valued, a counteroffer is rife with potential risks you should take into account. Often, a counteroffer is a staff retention tactic and a last-ditch attempt by your employer to prevent you from moving to a new company. It doesn’t always mean your workplace situation will improve in the long run if you accept. 

As recruiters, we have seen counteroffers play out many times to varying degrees of success. And, spoiler alert: With both loyalty and trust at stake, accepting a counteroffer is rarely a lasting win for either party.

Consider this statistic from CEB Inc. (now Gartner): On average, 50% of people who accept a counteroffer leave the company within 12 months.1 

You have to ask yourself whether jumping ship is really worth it. Will a salary bump or a promotion really change how you feel about your current job and company? Will you still be satisfied with your job and duties? How will your relationship be affected with your boss, now that they know you were job-hunting? 

It’s also important to identify the real reason behind why you are looking for a new job. Sure, making more money may be the main driver for most, but other factors play heavily into it too. A recent Canadian survey involving more than 1,800 respondents found that people resign for a variety of other reasons that go beyond money (the most common reason).2 Other reasons include a lack of trust in senior leaders, a lack of work-life balance and an unhealthy work culture. In those cases, an accepted counteroffer is not going to change the root cause of job dissatisfaction. 

If you’re thinking of switching jobs, speak to your employer first (if appropriate) before you start looking. Communicate clearly and speak up if there’s an area of your work or role that could benefit from some change, progression or improvement. In today’s competitive job market, employers and companies want to retain staffing levels and improve employee satisfaction. By being proactive in your career, you might just find a compromise or solution with your employer, plus it gives you the chance to make a strong case for a salary raise or promotion. 

From our perspective, it’s best to “fear” the counteroffer and ask yourself what workplace values are important to you. In our experience, employees who accept counteroffers are often seen as a flight risk by their employers. Once this happens, it can be hard for employees to regain the trust of their employer. 

If you are presented with a counteroffer, we caution you to think and act very carefully. You may even want to enlist the help of a career coach to help guide you through it. Ultimately, we recommend you weigh all the pros and cons and take into account factors such as your career goals, values and your professional standing with your current employer, to help make the right decision. 


1 CEB Inc. (now Gartner). The New Path Forward: Creating Compelling Careers for Employees and Organizations.2 Why People Leave Their Jobs.