Should You Accept a Counteroffer?

Career opportunities become more plentiful for accountants during the fourth quarter, so if you’re considering a career move, you’ll want to read further!  Understanding the unique dynamics that occur when you resign could save you from, what could be, disastrous consequences.

Before we extend offers on behalf of the client, we ask candidates what they would do if their current employer makes a counter.  I’d guess over 80% of the time, we hear the following from our candidate, “Well, that’s not going to happen,” and inevitably it, does happen more often than not.

If you’re a competent professional, it is a matter of time before you experience a counter offer dilemma, and if you aren’t prepared for it, before it happens, you’ll inevitably make mistakes.  So if you want to resign without burning bridges and/or making a career mistake, remember the following:

First of all, understand WHY employers make counter offers.  It’s more difficult and costly to replace the departing employees than ever before in history.  There are many reasons we won’t go into here, but know there is a shortage of talent, especially in accounting and finance.  As a result, it is much easier for an employer to convince you to stay than to recruit and train a new employer.

Secondly, when an employer makes a counter offer, it’s almost always a selfish move on their part.  Sorry, I know this is difficult to hear. . . but everyone truly is replaceable…even you, even if you’re a 25 year, tenured employee, so put your ego on the shelf and see the situation in a realistic manner. When positions are unfilled, work load increases not only for co-workers, but frequently for your boss him/herself.  Sure, there are boss’, business owners and managers who truly care about their employees, but honestly, their number one objective is to do what’s best for the company, not you.  The only individual qualified to look out for the best interests of you and your family is YOU.

Third, you must know the statistics.  In a survey conducted by Wall Street Journal, they discovered that 90% of candidates who accept counter offers left within 12 months.  BOTTOM LINE: The fundamental reasons most people switch jobs doesn’t change after accepting a counteroffer.  Most people leave their jobs for reasons other than money, and if money is the ONLY reason, you should NEVER have resigned in the first place.  Counter offers are a bad deal for you, but a good deal for the employer, because they “buy time” to find a replacement by keeping you a little longer.

Finally, understand the consequences of accepting a counter offer.  Even if you improve your employment status with more money or promotion, you run the risk of your employer feeling “blackmailed,” and your co-workers feeling envious that you got a bigger paycheck for being disloyal!  Many employers will find a way to make up these increases by cutting your bonus the following year, demoting you after a period of time, or worst case, terminating you once they’ve had a chance to replace you.  A great example of this is a tax accountant I knew who resigned during busy season, the firm gave him a huge bonus to stay with the firm. A few months later, when the annual bonus was paid out, he got ZERO !  To add insult to injury, this individual was terminated a few months later after the firm found his replacement.

Most of the time the original reasons you made the decision to make a job change are still there, and they don’t change just because you accepted a counter offer.  You should have more faith and trust in your own judgment, because there were good reasons you accepted the new position, so follow through.

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