Recruiters hate counteroffers and will always argue against someone accepting one, but their arguments are generally sound.

Depending on which article you read, you will get different figures relating to counteroffers, but the message about counteroffers is the same: they usually don’t work out. In most they don’t even last six months.

However, it is important to work through your decision carefully, though, to see whether that’s the case for you.

Inform yourself, think hard, listen to your gut, and decide without regret.

Firstly – try to avoid counteroffers in the first place

If there are things you’d like to change about your job, always address these before going to look for another job:

Ask for a pay rise

Speak to your boss about things you’re unhappy with

See if you can change things at work to be happier

Think about whether a move is right for you

If you decide the only course of action is to look elsewhere, be clear on what you’re looking for that you can’t get where you are. Getting to a job offer takes a lot of work on behalf of several people, so you should never use them as a way to get the things you want without having a difficult conversation with your boss.

Six things to consider

How valued are you in your current job?

It can be flattering having your boss trying to persuade you to stay. It makes you feel valued and special. But how valued did you feel before you handed in your notice? Is this feeling going to last much beyond you deciding to stay?

What are your boss’ motives?

Put yourself in their shoes. They might feel panicked or desperate about the prospect of losing an experienced member of the team and having the time-consuming and expensive task of replacing them and training somebody new.

If this isn’t the case and your boss is genuinely sad about losing you, specifically you, as a valued member of the team, why haven’t they made the effort to fairly reward you before, in salary or responsibilities?

How will your new salary affect things?

If you’ve just been given a significant salary increase to match (or better) the other company’s offer, what happens next? The other company was starting you out fresh on that salary, in line with planned reviews, and the salary structure of the rest of their team.

Whereas your boss has paid it out of necessity. It might upset the salary structure in the office. Is it just an early pay rise? Will you then not see any increases for some time? Is your boss now irritated, and will their expectations of you put you under a lot of pressure? What will be the reaction of your colleagues when they see you getting a pay rise?

Will things actually change?

This is the key issue, isn’t it? It’s easy for your boss to make promises about things being different, but in practice, is that possible – and will they commit to it? Unless your boss really values you, it’s likely that any initial attempts to improve things will soon fall off their list of priorities. Perhaps they’ll feel aggrieved at having to pay you more, or by your disloyalty.

If it’s fundamental things – like progression, being overworked, or being bored or unchallenged, does your employer really have the capacity to change these things on your behalf? In many cases there isn’t a lot they can do.

What does your future look like?

It’s important to picture yourself in each position, not just immediately, but in 6-12 months’ time. What are you doing? How do you feel? What opportunities have opened up to you? How is your work/life balance? What do the reservations you had about each role feel like now, all else being well?

What’s your motivation for staying?

There are two types of motivation – negative, and positive.

Negative motivation for staying put in your job might be things such as fear of something new (especially if you’ve been in your job for a while), emotional persuasion (pressure from your boss or colleagues to stay), or self-doubt (questioning whether you’re competent enough to fulfil expectations in a new company.

Positive motivations, on the other hand, include enjoying the job (and only leaving as a last resort for financial reasons), or a change in circumstances (an offer of a promotion or change in your role).

The trouble with negative emotions is that they play on your weaknesses, and make you feel bad about yourself. Often, the best decisions feel a little scary – if you never leave your comfort zone, you won’t get a chance to develop yourself, find out what you’re capable of, and build self-confidence.

Five risks associated with staying where you are

You might not find another job like the one you turned down

If you’ve been looking for a new job for a while, this might be an opportunity that won’t come up again soon. Recruitment Consultants can find vacancies, but they can’t create them. If you turn this offer down, after all the work it took to get to it in the first time, there is no guarantee they will be able to find something else like it.

The job market moves fast, it’s unpredictable, and stand-out vacancies are hard to come by. Also consider the company that you turn down. They may take the view that you are unreliable and never consider you again (and the same might happen with the Recruitment Consultant. If you turn down an offer, which matched everything you asked for, you’ve put them in a difficult position with their client).

The job will still be the same

Unless your boss is a superstar and puts into place a concerted plan of action to address the things that are making you unhappy, chances are, things won’t change. More money won’t make you more successful at the role. It won’t make you feel more fulfilled. It won’t make you more motivated. So, try to picture yourself six months in, when the dust is settled – are you really in a better position than you are now?

It’s unlikely you’ll stay

Most research finds that employees who accept a counteroffer usually end up leaving the company anyway, often within six months to a year. Think hard about that. Is yours a long-term decision, or are you just papering over the cracks, to stay still for a little longer?

You’ve marked yourself as a flight risk

Your boss knows you were planning to leave, now, which affects the way they will look at you in the future. Like it or not, you’ve marked yourself as disloyal, and your terms for staying put are known quantities. Be sure there’s no resentment from your boss, or that this reputation could negatively impact your future with the company.

It might knock your pride

When you accept a counteroffer, you’ve effectively been ‘bought back’. Your boss knows your price, and you can end up feeling indebted to them. It’s important to consider the way the situation can affect your internal relationships at work.

What to do now

  1. Think and consider – get really clear on your decision, by working through all the considerations and risks.
  2. Speak to your boss – if you want to stay, make sure promises will turn into real actions and change.
  3. Act with respect – avoid letting your position go to your head. If you try to play two firms off against each other on salary, it reflects really badly on you, and doesn’t pave the way for a great future with either.
  4. Don’t burn your bridges – you never know which doors will open, or who you’ll end up working with in the future. Being polite, respectful, fair, and honest, and finish on good terms