On To the Next One: Why You Should Never Accept a Counter Offer

Breakups are tough! We’ve all been with that someone who looked good on paper at the start but eventually revealed that they aren’t the person you thought they were. Their participation in your life became draining of both your time and your resources; you no longer felt supported or encouraged. The relationship stopped growing and the chemistry fell flat. Despite bringing up the disconnect and your needs multiple times, there wasn’t any follow through. It was decidedly time to walk, time to find satisfaction.

But what happens? That person doesn’t want to lose you. Who would? They thought you two had a good thing going when really it’s been one-sided. They promise to try harder, to do more, including all the things that pained you in the past. Do you believe them? Of course not. Their track record speaks for itself and it would be foolish to believe that your happiness can be built back up.

So if you wouldn’t believe an ex’s promises, why would you believe that a company’s counter offer could suddenly bring you the career satisfaction you’ve been lacking?

Too often people think it’s all about the money. Yes, if you’re feeling under appreciated, the bump in salary and additional bonuses feel like a step in the right direction, especially if they’re higher than the new position’s offer. But the truth is that bump isn’t going suddenly make you feel appreciated, it’s going to make you wonder they haven’t been valuing you all along. That’s all the more reason negotiate a salary that fits your needs during the hiring process. Your starting title is also important. Will it set you on a path of potential promotions that align with where you want to go? These are important questions to answer during the hiring process and certainly when faced with a counter offer.

The reality is that a change in title doesn’t make a counteroffer any better in the long run either. Whether it comes with a bump in pay or not, a counter offer that elevates your title may still lack the growth opportunity that the new position will. Employment feels stagnant often because executives feel they aren’t consistently challenged or not given the opportunity to lead the company down progressive paths. While all of us want to make more money in order to enjoy our life outside the office, inside the office is where we spend most of our time. When you’re chosen to lead and the company doesn’t follow that disconnect becomes a source of frustration and ultimately unhappiness. Distrust begins to build between you and the company, once again resulting in a stalemate in your career.

For argument sake, let’s say you accept. What happens after the lure of the counteroffer wears off and you feel like you’re back on that same hamster wheel? You’ll want to leave but now the role you were offered previously has been filled. Even if there’s another interesting role open at that company, who is to say that business is going to consider you a second time? Recruitment and hiring is a full-time job. There were a lot of man hours put in by that company to vet you and put together that first offer. With the potential of being a fickle candidate, they may not be willing to waste their resources on a second try.

We’re all allowed to change our minds from time to time but job searching is a long and involved process with plenty of pit stops that allow you to mull over the changes that could lay ahead. What’s most likely happening is a bit of cold feet and you may need to give yourself a push to come to that aha moment. Change is good for us; it’s an opportunity for growth and happiness.

APEX Executive Search is very familiar with the counter offer practice. We don’t place individuals chasing a paycheck. Our clients are exceptional in their industries and strive to build synergistic work environments from the top down. We find executives who will fit and excel within our clients’ unique company culture. The best fit isn’t just who looks good on paper; it’s a leader who connects with the company and finds purpose in their role.