10 Reasons I Won’t Accept a Job Counter Offer

by Ron Haynes

Have you ever resigned from a position and had your boss try to get you to stay? I’ve been counter-offered better pay, better conditions, or better benefits in attempts to “keep me on board.” I’ve turned down every counter offer in the past and here are my reasons why:

Negotiation?1. At this point, I’ve made my current employer aware of my intentions to find another position. My boss now knew that I was unhappy long enough to search for, apply for, interview for, and accept a new position. I’m sure I didn’t make my frustrations known to him in a way that he took seriously. Now, with egg on his face, because he assumed I would never leave, my boss was in the unenviable position of having to scramble to keep me. If I had chosen to stay, he would have resented me and questioned my loyalty. Not only that, but taking a day off here and there would put me under his suspicion that I was interviewing again. Who wants to work under those conditions?

2. I would burn the bridge with my prospective new employer.
If I had accepted the new offer, my new employer was expecting me to show up. My new employer had made announcements about me coming on board, had canceled open job notices and advertisements, and had arranged for training. In other cases, a new employer may have released the person you’re going to replace. If your new employer pulled the rug out from under YOU by rescinding the offer, how would you feel? Don’t pull the rug from under them.

3. When the time came to decide who would be considered for a promotion, my current employer would definitely remember who almost went to work elsewhere. Many times, bosses reward blind loyalty more than anything else. Who do YOU think would have gotten the next promotion or assigned the next big project? It wouldn’t have been me!

4. When the economy tanks, chances are that I would have been at the top of the list for personnel cutbacks. He already knew I was unhappy and didn’t really want to be there. Why would he keep me on the payroll when this would be his perfect chance to terminate me and it not look like revenge?

5. If I accepted the counter-offer, I would have been just a little trophy,
bought with some pocket change. This would’ve been more than little blow to my pride. You may disagree, but I don’t want to work somewhere that I’m not valued properly.

Backfire!6. Since this company had salary guidelines, it was possible that I just got my next raise. My raise after that would have probably disgusted me, but by then I would have burned a bridge, right? See #2 above. Not only that, but the bookkeeper was continually complaining about how much she was paid and she wrote the payroll checks for the entire company. I would never have heard the end of it.

7. There would have been a high likelihood that my boss would start looking for my replacement
— at a cheaper price. No one should overestimate their own value to any organization. Virtually everyone can be replaced. My “new” value to my “old” company wouldn’t mean anything. It could mean that they were just passing time until they could replace me on their schedule.

8. Would anything have really changed
? Was it ONLY the money that caused me to start looking for a better position? (no) Would getting a raise make me more willing to endure the circumstances that prompted me to accept a new position or would I just lie down, roll over, and take the little doggie biscuit?

9. Some statistics show that 75% to 90% of those who accept counter offers quit within six months anyway. . . or are terminated within one year. Why would I want to be in THAT position? Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire. A common investing rhyme is: The trend is your friend. In other words, look for trends up and stick with them or look for trends down and stay away. The trend on those accepting a counter-offer is down, down, down.

10. In my eyes, my value was established at the new company. They thought I was worth a lot more than my then current company. Why was I having to threaten to leave before I could get paid what I was worth? My co-workers knew I was leaving and it was actually fun hearing them discussing what they thought I was getting paid at the new company. If I had stayed because I accepted a counter-offer with more pay, I believe they would have ended up resenting me. People think of payroll as a zero sum game, if one person gets a huge raise, it means everyone else gets a small one. Whether it’s true or not does not matter. What people believe is what matters.

Additionally, my new company had found me through an executive recruiter and they were willing to pay many tens of thousands of dollars to have me on their team. My old company wouldn’t even give me a modest raise that was a fraction of that. Where was I really valued?

In my opinion, accepting a counter-offer is career suicide. Your boss is probably thinking that he or she will be blamed for your unhappiness and the much coveted annual bonus may now be in jeopardy. Desperation sinks in and you start hearing phrases like:

  • I had no idea you were unhappy. Let’s sit down and discuss what we can do to alleviate your concerns and what we need to do to keep you on this team.
  • The team needs you, I need you. We’re making good progress on [project name] and our budget looks really good. You’ll share in the credit for this success. Why would you throw this away now?
  • You have no idea the promotion and raise I was already considering for you. Let’s talk about it before you make any rash decisions.

One phrase I heard was, “I have my vacation coming up in 6 weeks. Is there any way you could stay until I get back?” (True story)

My advice: stick with your plan. Make a list of everything that irks you and read it back to yourself before you go tell your boss that you’re giving a two week notice. I mean list every little thing. My list was 86 items long. But I still almost caved in. After all, he had that vacation planned for months! 8 to be exact … )


About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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Allen Taylor

I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

Allen Taylor


go to # 6 graphic illustration if you aren’t self employed. sorry!


I would say all this to say…………..
Know what you want and “go” for it with gusto!
And don’t be wishy-washy…..stick to your decision! :-)

Also, #6 is a wake-up shake-up! :-)


All useful points here, Ron. To me, taking a counter offer would be going backward. I can learn lots from the past, but I want to use that knowledge as I move forward. Once I gather up as much of that knowledge as I can, I try to put it to work for today and tomorrow–instead of finding myself spending too much time lamenting yesterday.


Very insightful. Moving forward and moving backward are perfect analogies. Thanks for commenting.

Jeff@My Super-Charged Life

I made the mistake once of accepting a company’s counter-offer. Six months or less later the president of the company walked into the Monday morning meeting and announced that the company was closing down. I learned my lesson. The big pay increase sure didn’t last long on that one. I have always believed in walking away from counters for the reasons stated above. The one time that I broke my own rule, it bit me hard.


Hey Jeff, thanks for dropping by (LOVE your new site btw)
It seems you’re one of those who got to learn by doing. It sinks in stronger that way but is sure is disappointing when you’re in the middle of it. I’ll bet you never break that rule again! :) Keep up your good work.


Hello there LP. No wishy-washy here!


You are exactly right. That’s why I included that illustration in this post!
Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to your comments in the future.


@Allen Taylor
Hello Allen. Thanks for commenting. Glad to hear that Technorati is keeping up with me. Thank you very much for adding me to your RSS feed. I really appreciate that plus being able to hear from readers like you.

Four Pillars

Interesting thought. I guess an exception might be if you get another job offer for the specific purpose of getting a raise at your current job?

I apply the same logic to mortgages – I let my last institution get the first chance for my business (and they blew it) so I went elsewhere. I’m sure that once I had the other offer ready they would have matched it.

By the way – the first comment (Allen Taylor) is spam – I’ve seen the exact same comment on several blogs with either the investerworld link or a debt company.


Mrs. Micah

Unless it was a common practice in my field, I couldn’t imagine staying in a place after I’d almost left it. I feel like it’d get very awkward around my boss, I’d have to go to new lengths to rebuild trust, I’d be worried they’d fire me…all things you mentioned.

As for the vacation, I did postpone my leaving beyond when I had to at the last job (I gave them 3 weeks notice) because one of those weeks was my boss’s vacation. As the only other person in the office, I knew she’d need me to cover for her. And she might have needed time to find a newer person. And that newer person couldn’t have covered because they wouldn’t know everything I did. I tried not to burn bridges I didn’t have to.


@ Mrs. M
Hey thanks for stopping by.
I would have been happy to stay for a couple of weeks but I was asked to put my plans (and life!) on hold for 6+ weeks. Two or three I could have lived with, but six???

I’ve stayed in touch since then and don’t think I burned a bridge because I helped train my replacement. The last time I checked, he was doing fabulous and had taken a lateral move into sales and had become one of the company’s top salesmen.


Ron, this is great advice. I am hoping to receive a new offer soon, and I am sure they will try this trick on me. I know I won’t fall for it! The reason I am looking for new employment is not just the money, but about a dozen other reasons. And the reasons I wouldn’t stay re well outlined above. Great article. :)

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