How to commit career suicide – accepting a counter offer



You’re good at what you do! You know it, your colleagues know it, and your clients know it. So much so that the head-hunters and talent recruiters are starting to call you.

Your boss, however, seems to be blissfully unaware. Besides more of the same, an increased workload and the casual ‘thank you’ on the odd occasion – nothing. No new challenge, no extra responsibility and certainly no more money.

Time goes on, the initial head-hunter phone call progresses to a meeting and a couple of interviews later you have discovered a brand new opportunity: new challenges, more responsibility, more growth, certainly more money. The future is looking great.

You arrive at work, type up your resignation letter and meet with your boss. Upon hearing the news your boss reacts with dismay: your timing could not have been worse. A promotion was imminent with new responsibility and a higher package. All this was apparently just about to be offered to you.

Your boss begs you to reconsider. You are such a valuable member of the team. Come back in an hour’s time, when he would have had time to prepare the new package details – a package that he had intended to give to you all along.

Wow! Now that did not go down quite the way you expected. You walk out of the office, a huge smile on your face, you are appreciated after all!

A couple of hours later your boss presents you with a huge increase, slightly higher than the new opportunity. You accept, and although extremely pleased with yourself, you cannot help but wonder what the strange expression on your boss’s face was about as you leave his office.

No matter, the future looks rosy. You are going to get more responsibility, more money – what a great decision you have made!


Accepting a counter offer is the worst decision any individual can make in their career.

Regardless of how good you are, no matter how much value you have brought to your company in the past, accepting a counter offer changes everything.

No one is indispensable. Hard to replace perhaps, but NOT indispensable.

Typically, when you do resign, your timing will not fit into your manager’s plans.

When you resign, you are effectively firing your boss, and in most cases, at a time which is not convenient for them to reach their own objectives.

The first thought that will go through their mind is something like “Oh %$#*  not now – the %$#$*!  Damn! How can I buy some time?”

Offering you more money is really the easiest option. From a business perspective, all that’s really happening is paying the next year’s increase a little earlier than bargained for. That means, at the very least, a year to find a replacement.

So although you have just won a minor victory – a little more cash in hand at the end of the month – your boss will put together succession plans and begin searching for possible replacements for you.

The promises of more responsibility, better projects…forget it. You may even notice a slow decline in your workload, and colleagues suddenly working with you on projects that were previously only your responsibility.

Forget about a big bonus in December, and as mentioned above, forget about a decent salary review – your boss has factored this into your counter offer.

Do not be surprised if you suddenly become a mentor for young Bob, the junior resource, who races to bring the boss coffee in the morning. You have no idea how many people we know who have trained their very own successor.

Still not worried?  You are, after all, indispensable.  If you do not get what you want, you will simply resign again in six months and negotiate yet another counter offer.


This time they will see you coming. This time, to your horror, they will accept your resignation, and yes, that is young Bob moving his stuff into your desk as you leave the building…

You have gone about this entire process the wrong way – money should never ever be your primary motivator.

If you feel you deserve more money, think about the value you add to your current company and have an open and honest discussion with your manager. Try to monetise this value in terms of savings you bring, efficiencies you create or revenue your activities generate.

If you really do add this value and you have a well prepared and sound argument, very few managers will decline a fair request.

When you decide to explore new career options, make sure you are ready and the motives are primarily based on growth. Good reasons will include more responsibility or challenge.

If growth is your true reason for moving on, you will find that money will follow.