Everything You Need To Know About Counteroffers

So, you are nearing the home stretch of a competitive job interview process, congratulations!

Before you can start that great new job, there is one very important step- you need to officially resign. Resignation can be a stressful process regardless of circumstances.

It’s been said, breaking up is hard to do.

The reasons for resignation can vary, but you should always resign in a professional manner, regardless of circumstances. You will want to give adequate notice (2 weeks is standard and appropriate) and share a brief, formal resignation letter to your employer. You also need to be prepared to discuss a counteroffer.

Your resignation will likely be a relatively short conversation with your employer, and in most cases, they will be happy for you and wish you well on your next step. That said, there is still a high probability that you will be asked what can be done to keep you on board.

Counteroffers are one of the first things that typically come up. You never think you will receive one, but almost everyone does. And in many cases, a counteroffer is just a band aid to cover the issues that brought you to seek new opportunities in the first place.

Now is a great time to start thinking about how you will respond (and feel) when being confronted with a pay increase or title promotion in the 11th hour.

Do your mental homework

  • Show me the money
    • It’s unlikely that feeling underpaid is the only reason that you started looking for a new job; for most, it’s a combination of factors. Think about what compelled you to start exploring new opportunities and ask yourself if a pay increase will rectify those issues.
    • If money is a large driver for you, it is important to question why it took resignation for your employer to recognize your value. Good employers are proactive in keeping strong employees through both financial and non-financial recognition.
  • Call me boss
    • Career development is a big motivator for moving on. Your employer likely already knows you are looking to step into the next level, and if the topic doesn’t come up until you are stepping out the door, you should think carefully about when and how your promotion would take effect. Is there a concrete timeline? Are they being transparent with you?
  • Check your 6
    • There can be negative repercussions to accepting a counteroffer such as diminished trust and compromised reputation with your manager and colleagues.
  • The sun will come out tomorrow… or will it? 
    • Accepting a counteroffers is typically a short term fix, in fact, the majority of employees who accept counteroffers ultimately end up changing companies within a few short months.
  • Leave your emotions at the door
    • There is an emotional component involved in a counteroffer. It is completely normal to be flattered by a counteroffer, but don’t waver on your decision to accept a new opportunity.

You’ve done your homework, put time into the interview process, and found a role that better aligns with your career goals, so go into resignation with confidence knowing that you’re making the right decision for you and your career.

But, is there ever a reason to take a counter offer?

In findings from a recent study, close to 40% of senior executives and HR leaders agreed that accepting a counteroffer from a current employer will have an adverse effect on your career.

Sure, on occasion some may “get what they want” and go on feeling satisfied in their career after taking a counter. But the truth is, most people who are actively looking and have a strong sense of what they need in their next step won’t take a counteroffer.

If you love your job, have a clear path for upward development, and feel appropriately compensated, you wouldn’t be looking in the first place. If you want to stay in your job, but are looking for a raise, or to take on new responsibilities, or maybe manage a team – my recommendation is talk to your boss proactively BEFORE you are holding another job offer over their head.  


Ellie McCarthy specializes in Digital Media, Analytics and B2C marketing recruiting. She spent over 7 years in client and brand side digital media roles, prior to HireMinds, bringing expertise and knowledge that allows her to target, and engage, the most qualified talent in the space.