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How to handle a counter-offer

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 12 Sep 2022

Counter offer image

You’ve accepted a new job offer and handed in your resignation, but your current employer comes back with a counter-offer. What do you do?

There is usually always a reason for leaving your job. So, when your current employer offers you a counter-offer, it may cause confusion and lead you to start questioning your choices. Counter-offers can really throw you off, especially when you just don’t expect it. Whether you are thinking about the offer or are trying to stick to your decision of leaving, it’s important to think about this and weigh out all of your options. 

This article discusses what a counter-offer is, why you should consider it and how to make up your mind.

What is a counter-offer?

A workplace counter-offer is an offer made in response to an employee handing in their resignation letter for another job opportunity. If an employee hands in their resignation, the employer may counter your resignation with a pay rise or change in contract. Usually, to get you to stay with the company or in your current position. 

There are many reasons why an employer may offer a higher salary or other added work benefits but more often than not, it’s to retain good talent. If you are a model employee that works hard and shows drive, why would they want you to leave? - But why did they wait until now to give you what you wanted? An important question to think about. 

Things like salary increases, promise of promotion or new day-to-day duties are just a few examples of what an employer may offer you to stay in your current role. But don’t let the spontaneity of a counter-offer throw you off. If you are given a counter-offer, take the time to think about it and analyse the pros and cons of the situation. 

We talk you through how you can do exactly that.  

Don’t leave them hanging

When you are given a counter-offer, whether it’s straight after you hand in your resignation or closer to the end of your notice period, you don’t have to make any decisions straight away. You should acknowledge the offer, let them know you will think about it and take it from there. 

This way, they know you have seen it and recognised what they have asked of you. Even if you already know your answer, stay professional and balanced until you have some time to think about it. Take the right amount of time for you and remember to consider all of your options. 

You will have a deadline on this decision and although you should think about the situation in-depth, you should do so with some pace. You don’t want to leave either employer hanging without an answer. It’s not only unprofessional but can leave you with nothing if you wait too long. 

What were your initial instincts telling you?

Not everyone leaves a job due to negative experiences, but you may have your own reasons for wanting to move on from the role. Take some time to think about these. Did you feel that the salary you were on wasn’t enough for your skill set anymore, was there lack of opportunity to progress or was there something else that led you to a job search?

If so, is the reason you decided to leave something they are willing to improve and work on? Employers can make mistakes and not all are done on purpose, so if the counter-offer stirred some positive emotions and you think it may be worth it, I would advise seriously thinking about this offer and what it could mean for your future at a company you enjoyed working for.

If your first thoughts were negative, maybe you already have your answer. Money isn’t everything, sometimes the way a job makes you feel is enough to persuade you to leave. You need to be happy in your job and think about the long-term effects it may have if you give up your new job opportunity.

You’re the only one that can answer the question. It’s important to note that, our first instincts say a lot and sometimes it’s worth trusting them. 

Is money an incentive?

Money is an important factor in our jobs, we all want to be paid what we think our skills are worth. Especially after putting a lot of our time into one job or company. However, is the additional money your current employer is offering, enough to persuade you to stay? 

Usually, a counter-offer from your current employer will include a pay rise, if not other potential promises. But money isn’t everything. It’s important to think about why you started your job search in the first place, what made you want to accept the new role and how did the new job offer make you feel? 

  • Did they offer you the salary you asked for?
  • Does the new job include new opportunities
  • Is it in a different sector?
  • Does the company have better benefits?

Answer these questions and it may bring you closer to making a decision. 

Money isn’t everything in a job, but it is very important. For some, money may be the driving factor, so if you are offered more money to stay in a role, why wouldn’t you take it? We need to do what works best for us at the time. But ask yourself, is it enough?

Discuss the counter-offer your line manager

In order to come to a decision, you need to have a clear understanding of what the company are offering you and when this offer will be put in place permanently. When a counter-offer is made, nothing is set in stone. You don’t have to decide straight away, and they don’t have to keep up with their end of the bargain either. Usually, they will set a deadline for you to decide and sign a new contract. But you can see if you can negotiate further. 

Arrange a meeting between you and you line manager (or the person that offered you the counter-offer) and discuss the new terms, the date your new contract can start and ask any further questions or requests you may have. 

Make sure you leave with a better understanding of the offer and taken notes to ensure you are clear on the terms of the new contract, if you were to accept. 

Weigh out the pros and cons

Ultimately, decisions like this can be really hard to make. So, I find that the best way to decide, if you’re on the edge, is to make a list. What are the advantages and disadvantages of your current role and the new job you have accepted. The two roles are likely to have similarities but think about more than just the job. Future opportunities, employee perks and overall health benefits. Your financial wellbeing isn’t the only thing you should be thinking about. 

It’s important to be truthful to yourself. Your job is a long-term decision and although you can change your mind in the future, this is going to affect you and your life now. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why would you stay at your current job?
  • What do you enjoy about it?
  • Why did you want to leave in the first place?

Also, think about why you accepted the new role, what are they offering that made you accept their job offer?

Use the list to compare and hopefully this will help with your decision. 

Think about the new role

It can seem like the simpler option to stay with what you know. You won’t have to be trained on anything new, you don’t have to meet a new team of people and learn the ropes of a new company, but why did you agree in the first place? It can be easy to think about your current role, how well you know it and the ease of staying where you are. But what would you lose if you stayed where you are?

Is the new job offer something that will help you develop as a professional? The new job may teach you new skills and give you opportunities that your current role hasn’t in the past. Sometimes the hardest decision can be giving up what you know. But you have to do exactly that, in order to develop as a professional. 

Your decision

Eventually, you do have to give your employer a decision. Think about everything they have offered. Whether it be a higher salary, better job prospects or even the possibility of moving to another internal team. 

And then think about what the new role is offering. Why you said yes and what it would provide you with.  

The decision cannot be made by anyone but yourself, so don’t feel pressured by either one of the employers to make your decision. 

If you feel like you need input from your friends and family, then it’s always a good idea to share your struggles, personal or work related. They are there to support you.  

Try to think about the different points made here in this article and form a decision. Whether you are staying in your current role or leaving for a new adventure, you should let your employer know in a fair and professional manner. Take your time and most importantly, make the choice that is best for you, not your employer.