With another year underway, many people are ready for a new challenge and thinking about changing their organisation as they develop their career. 

Movement can happen in any organisation your manager is probably prepared for a couple of resignations. That doesn’t mean that they won’t fight for good employees to stay though, and one of the most common incentives to keep you in their team is… 

The Counter Offer. 

It’s critical to be prepared for the counteroffer stage of a resignation process. Many of us are often a bit thrown when our resignation isn’t accepted readily without question, swiftly followed by a feeling of being flattered that the company values us enough to attempt to persuade us to stay.  

However, being surprised and flattered rarely leads to good decision-making in that ‘now’ moment when we don’t quite know what to say; which is why you need to be thoroughly prepared for a counteroffer. 


1. Be firm within yourself about why you’re leaving. 



At the start of a year, we often take stock of our position and have an honest internal discussion with ourselves about where we are in our careers and our lives. This time of renewal often prompts brave, exciting decisions to revamp our careers and leave jobs that we feel are holding us back or making us unhappy.  

A counteroffer is often the quickest way to dampen that enthusiasm, tempting us ‘back into the fold’ with a sensible, lucrative offer that we feel irresponsible turning down.  

Let’s be clear though; counteroffers are not a bad thing per se; you just need to give serious forethought to what is prompting your decision to leave. Then ask yourself these two simple questions:  

  • Will the extra money offer change your working situation in a significant and positive way?  

  • How will you feel to still be in the same role in 12 months’ time? 

Based on your answers to these two questions, you should be reasonably sure of your counteroffer decision before you’re even offered it.  


2. Know what would make you stay (happily) 

If you’ve been feeling literally undervalued, in that you think you are underpaid, then the counteroffer can present a compelling and justified reason to stay. (Assuming you are generally happy with the other aspects of the role, and it was the only money that made you want to resign.) 

If you’ve been feeling emotionally undervalued, however, feeling as if your input isn’t appreciated or that you’re not being allowed to utilise your talents, then the counteroffer will probably only act as a temporary Band-Aid. A counteroffer proves they genuinely value you if the behaviour that made you feel undervalued in the first place also changes.  



3. Don’t let flattery or appeals to your loyalty get the better of you.  

It’s a lovely feeling to be offered a wad of cash because your employer wants you to stay so badly. However, a savvy person doesn’t let flattery cloud their judgement and knows that companies do NOT want to be hiring in the current skills short market. Replacing employees costs valuable time and money, so in their mind, they’re getting a bargain by retaining you with a minimal salary increase.  

Also, be strong in the face of appeals to emotion. Most of us don’t like ‘letting down’ an employer by leaving them mid-project or feeling like they’re abandoning the team, so it’s quite common for managers to lean heavily on that natural sense of loyalty to convince you to stay.  

Again, be firm within yourself about why you’re leaving—you made the decision on your own that you could live with leaving the team or project, so stick to your guns and don’t let anyone load guilt onto you. 


4. Predict the future and walk away on good terms. 



After working in recruitment here at LWR for over 30 years, I have rarely seen a counteroffer that ends well for the candidate. There are a number of different scenarios all my consultants have seen here at Lucy Walker Recruitment.  

Scenario 1: The salary increase doesn’t do anything to improve the conditions that made you unhappy in the first place, meaning that you sit around feeling trapped by the counteroffer for several months, before resigning again. This doesn’t leave anyone looking good.  

Scenario 2: The employer tags you as disloyal or not a long-term player from the minute you give your resignation, and even though they give you a counteroffer, they are merely doing this as a short-term measure while they begin to find your replacement.

It all sounds very cloak and dagger, but it’s how the majority of commercial organisations work. When you resign in the first place, you are signalling that your time with the company is coming to an end. You can’t blame them for listening, marking you a flight risk, and making their preparations.  

Scenario 3: When you accept the counteroffer, the other company who offered you a job is at best disappointed; at worst, they are annoyed, think you’re a time waster, and refuse to give you another chance. The recruitment company may well feel the same. In short, that’s a lot of bridges burnt. 

Unfortunately, these scenarios can ALL happen together, leaving you unhappy, fired, and with no job offers and no recruiter!  

Not a great result.  

So, if you’re filled with enthusiasm about finding a new job this year, don’t let the flattery and surprise of a counteroffer blind you to your new career opportunity.  


What Next? 

Ready to move in to a new role? Then Lucy Walker Recruitment can help you. We place multiple roles in every level of the commercial sector across the North of England. Call us on Leeds 0113 367 2880 or email lucyw@lucywalkerrecruitment.com.


About the Author: Lucy Walker

Lucy Walker is the founder and Managing Director at Lucy Walker Recruitment.Lucy has an extensive knowledge of the issues and workings of the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester Commercial markets developed over 25 years in the profession