personal finance

Got a Job Offer? Here's How to Decide If You Should — Or Shouldn't — Accept a Counteroffer

MoMo Productions

You may have been intent on leaving your job, and then your current employer makes a counteroffer.

Whether or not to accept depends on your situation.

"Ultimately, the answer is going to be: What does your career need next? What options on the table are going to get you there? Are you going to fulfill the needs that you have?" Glassdoor career trends expert Alison Sullivan said.

Nearly 40% of senior executive and human resource leaders believe that accepting a counteroffer from a current employer will adversely affect one's career, a 2019 survey by executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles found. The firm surveyed more than 600 senior executives who voluntarily left their employers and more than 100 senior human resources officers.

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While in some industries, like academia, it may be common to accept counteroffers, in most it is not, said career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

"There is just too much of a risk that you're getting back into a company that clearly only makes a move if they are ready to lose someone," she said.

Yet, there are exceptions, depending on your needs and work environment, she noted.

In fact, risks can be mitigated if you have a robust conversation with your boss to make sure you and your employer are aligned on your needs, Sullivan added.

Timing matters

If you've already told your new employer that you would take the job, then you should turn down your current employer, said Ceniza-Levine, founder of Dream Career Club.

Otherwise, it shows you are willing to burn bridges. "You have given your word," she said.

Instead, the ideal time to talk to your manager is after you are approached with an offer.

"You have the most leverage when you have a firm offer on hand," Ceniza-Levine said. "You have to be careful that it doesn't sound like a threat or ultimatum."

Instead, let them know that you like your job, but you were approached with an interesting offer.

However, you can also have a conversation with your boss before you even look for another job to see if your needs can be met.

"The idea is you have an open line of communication before it gets to the point where you resent the other party," Ceniza-Levine said.

When you speak to your supervisor, know exactly what you want to ask for. If you feel you are underpaid, do research to back up your case. Data from Payscale show that 51% of employees who think they are underpaid are actually being compensated at or above market.

Four questions to ask yourself

To help decide whether or not to accept a counteroffer from your current company, ask yourself four key questions, advised Glassdoor's Sullivan.

  1. Why did you make the decision to leave or look for a job in the first place? The answer is going to help you identify something that the counteroffer could resolve, such as more money or a change in work culture.
  2. What will change if you accept the counteroffer? It could be a higher salary or a different team.
  3. What will you gain if you leave? Perhaps the new job promises a better commute or different work schedule.
  4. What options get you closer towards your long-term career goals? "At the end of the day you are thinking about the trajectory of your career," Sullivan said. "What puts you in the best position that you want to be in?"

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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