Counteroffer! The Counteroffer Dilemma

Counteroffer! Cue the horror music! DUM DUM DUM!…….

Recently, I had to give some advice on a counteroffer to a very senior candidate who was at the end of an extremely robust recruitment process that had lasted 4 months. Let’s call him ‘Bob’ for the purpose of this story.

Bob had spent several, very successful, years in a role that he found fulfilling and engaging. He was rewarded with an excellent package, surrounded by a fantastic team and he was promoted several times in a relatively short period of time.

Everything seemed to be going perfectly for a while and Bob felt very happy.

Then, as time went on, things changed. Bob no longer felt fulfilled. He was becoming increasingly disengaged in his current role. The reasons for this were mainly that the culture of the organisation had shifted significantly in what Bob thought was the wrong direction.

He felt that some of the expectations being heaped on him by his superiors was causing him some anxiety, and that anxiety was being felt at home during his family time.

Bob no longer felt happy.

So, Bob did what any normal person would do in that situation… He started to look for another job. That’s when we met.

Bob successfully progressed through 5 stages of interviews over a 4 month period in which he was interviewed by 6 different people. He impressed the interviewers during the process with presentations and successfully overcame a psychometric evaluation that lasted 2 hours online. Check out my post on how to prepare for any interview here.

At the end of the recruitment process, Bob was the preferred candidate and he received an offer that met his expectations. Bob accepted the offer and Bob was happy again!

When Bob handed his notice in with his current employer he was met with silence. Blank faces. Disbelief. Clearly they hadn’t seen it coming. Later that day, Bob was called into a room with his boss, his boss’s boss and his boss’s boss’s boss!

They explained that they didn’t want to lose him. They were prepared to offer him a bigger role within the company, with a bigger team and a higher salary. Now Bob felt special, yet confused. Bob wrestled with the dilemma over and over for the rest of the day.

Counteroffer Dilemma


After much deliberation, Bob thanked the prospective employer for their time and their interest, but turned their offer down. Bob accepted his current employer’s counteroffer instead.

What happened next, drawn out over the course of 3 or 4 weeks, I have seen happen over and over again in my career:

  1. Bob was still unhappy
  2. Bob’s current employer had already started to look for his replacement
  3. Bob’s integrity was badly affected
  4. Bob left his job

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So remember that when considering a counteroffer from your current employer:

  • The initial reasons that made you start to look around for a new job will remain after the initial excitement of the counteroffer subsides.
  • Once you reveal that you are prepared to leave your employer, you are no longer trustworthy. You are the person who was about to leave them high and dry and they will be making plans in case you do that to them again, even if you accept the counteroffer.
  • Your current employer will know that you have relinquished an offer elsewhere and broken a promise by accepting the counteroffer. Your prospective employer will also be left dejected.
  • You will still leave. Once you make the decision to look for a new job, you have already started a chain of events that will result in you leaving your current role, sooner or later.

Thankfully for Bob, he was still able to take up the offer with the prospective employer. Which was very lucky given that he had turned them down 4 weeks earlier.

Bob is now happy again! Here’s the video…

Have you ever been in the same situation as Bob? What happened? Please leave a comment below…

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Chris Morrow

Digital Recruiter | Vlogger at ChrisMorrow.Careers
Chris Morrow is a Digital Recruiter & Vlogger. He posts videos to YouTube & Facebook in a weekly vlog called "My Journey" which documents his journey through his recruitment career. Find out more about him here: