Leaving Your Job: A Guide to Counteroffer Etiquette

If you’ve been paying attention to the job market over the past couple of years, you will have seen that the term “counteroffers” has been thrown around quite a lot.

The main example of a counteroffer at the workplace is when your current employer makes a counteroffer to the offer of an employer who is interested in your services with the hope of retaining you in the company.

In this comprehensive guide to job counter-offer etiquette, we’ll look at tactics employers use to keep you from leaving, factors that go into accepting or rejecting a counteroffer, and whether or not it’s the right time to accept.

Read on to learn more.

3 Tactics Used to Keep Employees from Leaving

Here are some common tactics employers use to keep you from switching jobs;


This is the most obvious tactic used by employers. When they discover an employee is considering leaving the company, they try to entice them to stay with a counteroffer, often by offering to match or exceed the salary offered by the new company. Counteroffers are very popular nowadays, however, data has shown that 9 out of 10 candidates who accept a counteroffer end up leaving after twelve months anyway.

Delegating More Responsibilities

Another way companies try to keep employees is by delegating more tasks. Assigning more responsibilities to a person makes them feel more useful and valuable to the company, which may influence their decision on whether to stay.


Similar to the previous employee retention tactic, employers give employees junior staff to “mentor” and guide them through the process. This also improves how an employee sees their value to a company and is used by many companies to keep their employees from leaving.

On the other hand, some employers may offer their most valuable employees additional mentorship to make them better at their job and in dealing more effectively with their responsibilities.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Pros and Cons of Accepting a Counteroffer

Just because 9 out of 10 people leave after accepting a counteroffer, that doesn’t mean that counteroffers don’t come with any benefits. Here are some of the pros and cons of accepting a counteroffer from your current employer.


  • If you’re happy with the company and money is your only concern, counteroffers work well
  • You get to stay at a familiar company with familiar colleagues
  • Your employer may start to see your true value to the company


  • Counteroffers will not change a bad work environment
  • Your employer might start to think you’re only at the company for financial gain
  • The company may start to doubt your loyalty
  • May worsen the work environment and damage the relationship with management
  • Counteroffers can breed suspicion and resentment

As you can tell, there are more cons associated with counteroffers than pros. Remember, you wanted to leave the company before the counteroffer, and a higher salary doesn’t fix most of the problems people have with their work environment. Additionally, if you do decide to stay, and your current employer is keen on keeping you in the company, it is worth learning how to negotiate a counteroffer with your current employer.

Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Counteroffer

1. Why Did You Want to Leave?

Before considering a counteroffer, ask yourself why you wanted to leave in the first place. If your only concern was the salary, a counteroffer might actually work for you. However, keep in mind that counteroffers don’t fix a toxic work environment, poor practices, and all the other reasons you considered leaving for in the first place.

2. Why Are You Only Being Offered a Raise Now?

Another thing to consider is why you are only being offered a raise now. Does your employer only see your value because you are leaving? Or are they offering you more money to avoid the inconvenience and expense of recruiting your replacement?

Remember, if the company can afford to offer more money now, why didn’t they do it earlier than that? Keep in mind that many companies would rather keep an employee not only because of their value, but because it’s flat out cheaper to retain employees than go through the hiring process again.

3. What Makes You Happy?

Lastly, you need to ask yourself what you want. If you really feel unhappy with your company for various reasons, then it’s probably best for you to leave. More money won’t automatically fix the work environment, and if you believe you will be happier somewhere else, then it would be in your best interest to leave.

However, if you enjoy the company and just want a higher pay grade, then maybe accepting the counteroffer is the right way for you to go.

Should I Tell My New Employer About a Counteroffer?

Yes, whether you accept the counteroffer or not, it’s best practice to tell your potential employer. Remember, honesty is a valuable characteristic in today’s job market, and it will work in your favour, to share this information with your new employer. If you accept the counteroffer, politely tell the other company that you have received a new offer from your current employer and plan on accepting it. On the other hand, if you reject the counteroffer, remember to politely tell your current boss as well as remembering not to burn bridges when you leave.

Still Unsure How to Proceed? Speak to Your Recruiter…

The modern job market is complicated, and employers are using a wide variety of different techniques to get their employees to stay. This, in combination with a number of offers, can make your decision-making process a whole lot more challenging.

If you’re not quite sure how to proceed, it’s best to speak to a recruiter who can guide you accordingly and help you make the right decision.

Get in touch

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