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Home  > Article

Be Cautious About Counteroffers

By From the career experts at Robert Half
Robert Half International

You've received a great job offer from another company, and, when you tell your boss you're leaving, he offers you more money to stay on. While having two employers competing for your services may seem like a win-win situation, proceed with caution -- dealing with a counteroffer can be tricky.

The effect on relationships

      You may be tempted to take the counteroffer to avoid leaving a familiar environment and undergoing the change that accepting a new job would entail.  But your relationship with your boss could change dramatically if you stay with your current employer.  Having attempted to jump ship, you will be under a microscope, and your actions will be closely scrutinized for signs of disloyalty.  After all, you've already said, in effect, that you wish you were elsewhere.

      To alleviate this impression, you will have to work very hard to regain the trust of your manager.  A good way to do so is to demonstrate a positive attitude.  Approach your tasks with enthusiasm, volunteer for additional projects and aim to exceed expectations on every assignment.  Be as determined to create a good impression as you would if you had taken the new position.  Remember, though, that it may take some time before your relationship with your supervisor is fully repaired.

      Of course, your relationships with your colleagues could change as well.  If your coworkers hear you've been given a bump in pay or new title to prevent you from accepting another opportunity, they could grow resentful.  So, above all, keep the terms of the counteroffer to yourself.  In addition to showing discretion, try to maintain good relations with your peers by being cooperative and offering extra support.

Consider compensation

      If you do accept the counteroffer, bear in mind that your boss might consider it an advance on a future raise.  To counter this possibility, negotiate that you will still receive a salary review at your regularly scheduled time.

      One possibility is that you were being paid less than market value for your role, and, when you resigned, your boss realized the discrepancy.  If so, the counteroffer could be an attempt to rectify the situation.  If your only dissatisfaction was salary, and you otherwise enjoy your position, you might consider accepting the offer, making sure the company follows through on the adjustment in compensation.

Does the offer meet your needs?

      No matter the details of the counteroffer, remember that you were looking for a new job for a reason, and it may not be all about money.  Step back and recall why you thought another opportunity would be better.  Did you seek an improved work environment?  Greater advancement opportunities?  A more supportive boss?  Consider whether your employer's counteroffer addresses your dissatisfaction or if the original reason will still exist. 

      For example, you may have decided to leave because the new organization would give you more time off for family responsibilities.  If your present firm offers you a more flexible schedule or the option to occasionally telecommute, your objection might be met. Also consider why it took an offer from another company to prompt action on the company's part, especially if you've voiced your dissatisfaction with certain aspects of your position.   

Reaching a decision

      Once you've made a decision, inform both parties immediately.  If you've already accepted one of the offers, reneging on the agreement can seriously damager your professional relationship, so make sure you are confident in your decision before communicating it.  Whatever your choice, maintain your professionalism at all times; you never know who you may work for or with in the future. 

      Accepting or declining a counteroffer is never an easy decision, and the right course of action depends heavily on your individual situation.  While there's no standard response to a counteroffer, considering all of the details and potential ramifications involved will help you make the best choice. 

Founded in 1948, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, a division of Robert Half International Inc., the world's largest specialized financial recruiting service and a leading authority on workplace and management trends. The company has more than 350 offices throughout North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. Learn more at

Copyright 2008 Robert Half International. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

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