5 Reasons Why Accepting Counter-Offers is a Career Curse

By Roxanne Abercrombie

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When faced with a counter-offer, it can be all too easy to get caught up in flattery. Most of us have a ‘better the devil you know’ mentality when it comes to work, preferring to stick to the security of what we already know than face the uncertainty of the professional unknown. After all, it’s much easier to stay put than uproot and start all over again at another company. When your current employer throws more money and more benefits at you to stay at the company, the temptation to accept is understandable.

Being swayed by counter-offers, however, is often one of the worst career decisions any professional can make. Here’s the top 5 reasons why you should stick to your guns and head to pastures new.


1. What’s actually changed?

Okay, your current employer has probably offered you a considerably higher salary as well as a few extra benefits for good measure. But was money the only reason behind your decision to leave?

Let’s face it, the people are still the same, the policies are still the same, the work itself is still the same: whatever circumstances that caused you find a new job in the first place are still exactly the same. More money at the end of the month is great, but it won’t make the day’s grind at the office any more enjoyable. So, always remember why you wanted to leave when your boss starts to put those attractive numbers in front of you.


2. You probably won’t stay there anyway…

It’s a cold hard fact: 80% of employees who have accepted a counter-offer leave the company in 6 months and a further 93% leave within 18 months. And this, of course, is largely because of the first reason we listed: the increased salary hasn’t changed the dislike of the role.

For those extra few months with your current employer, you’ve lost out on the opportunity to take the new job – a job that you were excited about enough to apply for, interview for and almost sign an employment contract for. You’ll only end up kicking yourself for not taking the chance when you had it.


3. Your boss isn’t likely to forget your ‘disloyalty’

Telling your boss that you’re leaving for a new job isn’t exactly a killer way to get in their good books. Rather, they’ll think that you’re a flight risk and will almost certainly begin keeping an eye out for a potential replacement.

Though they don’t want to lose you abruptly because of the impact on the business and the time, cost and effort of recruitment, your intention to quit will be remembered. After the initial bid to keep you on board, don’t hold your breath for future preferential treatment or rewards. You’re no longer considered a team player, remember?


4. You’ll damage your personal brand

Yes, the market is cut-throat, and for senior roles in IT and finance jobs particularly a certain degree of competition is expected.  Regardless, accepting a job offer only to do a U-turn and change your mind at the last minute doesn’t look great. Not only is it plain bad practice, it’s harmful to your professional reputation.

Consider it objectively for a moment: you’ve made an agreement and confirmed that you want the role. You’ve then changed your mind a matter of days later and let the employer down. In turn, this means that you can come across as indecisive and weak-willed, which is going to have a detrimental impact on your personal brand.

5. ‘What if..?’ will haunt you

Staying in the job you intended to leave will inevitably start to make your career feel somewhat stagnant. You’ll find yourself staring at the same old things and wondering what you’d be working on if you’d accepted the offer. It’s human nature to ponder ‘what if’, and every bad day you have with your employer will lead to musings about what could have happened instead.


So, if you’re in the fortunate position of having a new job offer as well as a counter-offer on the table, consider your options carefully. Though it can seem appealing and by far the easier option, a counter-offer is really a curse in disguise.

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