Ask A Career Expert: Should I Accept A Counteroffer From My Employer?

Robb and I are close to each other in age, which means we will enter our “peak earning years” (40-55) around the same time. This 15-year window represents the point in our careers where we should be making the most money in our professional lives.

For some people, the best way to capitalize during their peak earning years is to be open to new opportunities that exist outside of their current employer. We typically suggest a pay raise of 10-15% to accept a position locally and 15-25% to consider a relocation. Cost of living adjustments should be considered on top of the percentages given.

should never accept a counteroffer when looking to leave their current employer. And here’s why:

7 reasons why you should never accept a counteroffer from your employer

Navigating the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process can be tricky. There are a lot of trusted HR professionals that opine on how to facilitate a job change. Their advice can vary but one common thought is that a candidate should never accept a counteroffer when looking to leave their current employer. And here’s why:

  • If you believe you are worth more to your current employer, why aren’t they paying you market value right now?
  • Where would the increase in pay come from? Would you be losing out on your bonus, cost of living allowance, or raise from your next performance review?
  • Your employer might think you are unhappy and assume you are going to leave at some point in the future. They might offer you a raise and then work to replace you with someone else. Employers would do this so they can control the process and timeline.
  • There were reasons you were looking to leave your position anyway; a counteroffer won’t negate the factors that gave you grief.
  • Accepting a counteroffer can cause strained relationships between you and your coworkers. Even if you believe you are paid under market value your colleagues might not agree or understand your situation.
  • If business slows down at your current employer, you might be at the front of the line for a layoff.
  • Studies show that up to 80-90% of people that accept a counteroffer are no longer with that company after six months anyway. This fact alone should be your number one sign not to accept a counteroffer.

If you truly enjoy working for your employer there are a couple things you can do to raise your year-end compensation:

  • Let your manager know you believe your compensation is not at market value. Come to them with labor statistics local to your market and show them how your annual compensation stacks up. If they aren’t open to bumping your salary, suggest putting some performance goals in place that are tied to specific financial rewards. You can even hint to them that another company has approached you about a position and that the salary midpoint for that position is more than what you are currently making.
  • Leave the company. Exit with grace and let them know that you would be open to returning at a later date for a more challenging position with better compensation. This happens quite frequently in the two industries I am most familiar with (Banking and Biotech).

Have any of you accepted a counteroffer to stay with your current employer? What are your thoughts? Did it work out?

Jon Reisinger is a headhunter with experience recruiting in banking and biotech in the USA. He is currently the VP Sales and Marketing for Paragon Search Group, a Biotech recruiting company specializing in Process Development. He has recruited and placed dozens of senior level professionals into positions within companies ranging in size from startup to Fortune 50. He is also a long-time follower of Boomer and Echo and has acted on many of the strategies put forth by Robb and Marie.

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