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Should You Accept a Counteroffer?

Think about why you wanted to leave in the first place


You’ve been offered another job and plan to give your notice soon. But you’re hesitating because you know your current employer won’t take the news well and might extend a counteroffer. If that happens, how should you respond?

In today’s job market, where the number of experienced professionals in high-demand practice areas outweighs the supply, counteroffers have become more common. It’s important, however, to ask yourself the following questions before accepting or declining one:

1. Why are you leaving your current job?

Think about the reasons why you looked for another position. Did difficulties with your supervisor or coworkers, a lack of recognition, limited career advancement opportunities or the need for more work-life balance influence you? Even if the counteroffer is generous, it’s probably best to leave since more money likely won’t fix these issues. And, if left unaddressed, the odds are good that you will find yourself looking for a new legal job in the near future.

2. Will accepting the counteroffer affect your peer relationships? 

While counteroffers should be kept confidential, people do talk and what would happen if your coworkers found out? It’s highly likely that your boss didn’t offer them the same compensation and perks, so there may be hard feelings, which could make your working relationships uncomfortable.

3. Will staying limit your advancement opportunities?  

Will upper management question your motives if you decide to stay for the money? Your supervisor and his boss may question your long-term loyalty because they know you were planning to leave the firm. You could ultimately be bypassed for important assignments, merit raises and promotions, and you could be more vulnerable if there are layoffs in the future.

4. Will you burn bridges with the other firm? 

Remaining with your current employer merely because of more compensation can damage any chances of employment with the firm you were planning to join – now or in the future. And things don’t work out with your current employer, the prospective firm may not be able to reinstate their initial offer.

While counteroffers can be tempting, it doesn’t speak well of your firm’s commitment to retaining its best employees if it took a resignation for them to give you a raise. If you enjoy your job and value your relationships within the firm as well as the office location and work environment, but need to boost your salary, approach it in a different way.

After careful preparation and research, as well as a review of your professional accomplishments and contributions to the firm, approach your boss about a raise. There’s also nothing wrong with requesting a chance to prove yourself in another area if your current responsibilities aren’t challenging enough.

While only you can decide whether to accept a counteroffer, in almost all cases, the best course of action is to thank your boss for the experience, tender your resignation, help with the transition and take that new job without regrets.


Mala Saraogi is the Denver-based director for Robert Half Legal, the leading provider of legal staffing and consulting solutions for law firms and corporate legal departments. Learn more by visiting www.roberthalf.com/denver.


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