Receiving a counter offer can be one of the most flattering feelings in the world.
No one would blame you for assuming that the gesture demonstrates that your boss believes you’re a valuable asset to the team that they couldn’t possibly dream of letting go.
But, experts say more often than not this couldn’t be further from the truth, with most recruitment specialists saying that what they’re really doing is buying time for themselves to search for your replacement at their own pace, and this is why you should think twice before accepting an improved offer.
“Yes, you’re an asset, but only because it will cost more to replace you than keep you, especially if your resignation has come as a surprise or at a time when your company cannot be without resources. Boosting your salary or promoting you is a means for your HR to keep you within the organisation until you become more disposable,” says HR manager Zafar Modak.
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“This isn’t to say you’ve not been valuable to your organisation and they won’t be sad to see you go. If you’ve proven your worth, it is unlikely they will want to lose you. However, good bosses and hiring managers understand that people don’t remain with one company all their life and that moving on is a natural part of a career cycle”
San-Marie Barnard, a principal consultant at executive headhunting firm Jack Hammer concurs, saying counter offers are actually an insult to you.
“People think receiving a counter is an act of appreciaition, sadly it’s not. In fact, it’s actually a selfish ‘slap in the face’ to you, your reputation and your career prospects,” Barnard explains.
“True appreciation from your boss looks like this: acknowledgement of your work to date, and a dignified, magnanimous wish of goodwill for the next phase of your career journey, leaving the door open for future engagement and collaboration at some future date.”
The problem with accepting a counter offer, Modak says, is that now that you’ve told your boss that you’re leaving the company – whatever your reasons may be – you’ve effectively broken the trust in your relationship because your employer might question your loyalty to the company and your boss could be left feeling like they’re always waiting for you to signal your intention to leave.
It’s also dangerous to assume that the salary or package bump you may receive will continue to rise.
“Since the extra money to keep you on board has to come from somewhere, it is likely this was simply the money allocated for your next bonus or rise, diminishing the true value of the counter offer,” warns Modak.
By accepting a counter offer you also come across as an indecisive individual and you’re burning bridges with the company you eventually turn down after initially accepting their job offer – a career and reputation-damaging move.