Reconsidering Counteroffers

I’m close to accepting a new job at another firm and plan to give notice shortly. I know my current employer doesn’t want me to leave, though, and I’m not sure what I should do if my boss extends a counteroffer. What are the pros and cons of counteroffers from the employee’s perspective?

Job counteroffers are becoming more common in the legal field: About one in three lawyers interviewed by Robert Half in a recentsurvey said that they’re more willing to make counteroffers than they were a year ago. If you’re on the receiving end of a counteroffer, here are four questions you should ask yourself before saying yes or no.

  1. Why did I want to leave my current job in the first place?
    Think back to the period when you started looking for new jobs. What triggered your search? Was it difficulties with the boss or coworkers, a lack of recognition, no opportunities for advancement or work-life imbalance? If so, it’s probably best for you to move on, even if the counteroffer is generous. A higher salary won’t fix any of those problems, and you may find yourself looking for another job again in the near future.

  2. Will staying cause resentment on the team?
    If your colleagues find out that you accepted another offer but decided to stay because the boss gave you more money and perks that they don’t have, there very well could be hard feelings. And it’s not unlikely that theywill find out: people talk. Your coworkers may see the higher salary and enticements as an unearned raise or preferential treatment, and they may resent you for it, which in turn could make your work environment uncomfortable.

  3. Will staying hurt your job security or advancement?
    Even if you accept the counteroffer, upper management may question your commitment because they know you were getting ready to move on to another legal job. There’s a chance they’ll be less likely to invest time and energy into your training and career advancement. You could get passed over choice assignments, merit raises and job promotions, and you might be more vulnerable if there are layoffs.

  4. Will accepting the counteroffer burn bridges with the other law firm?
    Staying on with your current employer because of a sweeter compensation package will likely ruin any future chances you may have had with the firm you were planning to join. If you later regret accepting the counteroffer and re-approach the competing company, they could be skeptical of your intentions. It will likely be difficult to get them to reinstate their initial offer.

Reasons to Accept the Counteroffer

There really are none. It doesn’t speak well of your firm’s commitment to keeping its best people if it took your decision to leave for them to consider giving you a raise.

If you love your job, supervisor, coworkers, work environment and office location but simply need a higher salary, you should, after careful preparation, approach your boss about a raise. Also, if you genuinely like your workplace but feel unchallenged in your present position, there’s nothing wrong with requesting a chance to prove yourself in another area.

Ultimately, only you can decide whether to accept a counteroffer. But in almost cases, the better course of action is to thank your boss for the overture, hand in your resignation letter, offer to ease the transition and take that new job without regrets.