The Jefferson Group

Career quandary: Should I accept a counter offer?

Tom Howe, managing partner at The Jefferson Group, answers a jobseeker's dilemma over whether to accept a counter offer.

Tom Howe, managing partner, The Jefferson Group
Tom Howe, managing partner, The Jefferson Group

Question: "I’ve been working at the same advertising agency for three years as a digital marketing executive. I enjoy the work I do and get on well with my team but I don’t see my role progressing anytime soon and was denied a pay rise when I asked for one six months ago to help pay my London rent. I’ve now been offered a new role - a promotion - at a different agency, with a bit more money, new challenges and different types of clients.

"Since handing in my notice, my current agency has offered me a significant pay rise above and beyond my new job offer, and opportunities to discuss a possible promotion in the near future. It would mean continuing to work with the team and clients I enjoy working with rather than facing an unknown situation, and my only reasons for leaving are pay and progression. Should I accept the counter offer?"

Tom Howe says…

Firstly, take it as a compliment that your employer does value you after all, even if it’s taken all this time for them to show it. However, you’re now in a precarious position as to whether to accept their counter offer.

Recruiting and training new members of staff is costly, so it’s common for managers to make monetary offers to lure back existing staff that they want to keep. The increase in pay is no doubt tempting for you as that’s one of the main reasons you looked elsewhere, but you should approach this with caution. Do you know whether your responsibilities would change? Are their new expectations realistic? And if you’ve been so valuable to them, why has it taken so long for them to recognise it?

Regarding the opportunity to discuss a possible promotion with your current employer in the ‘near future’, why are they dragging their heels on this, especially when you’ve already been offered a promotion elsewhere?

When faced with a tough decision, it bodes well to see the bigger picture. Your existing employer may appeal to your emotions now by pulling on your heart strings, but this doesn’t mean they will trust you if you stay. A study by ClearSky Business, a specialist in supporting small and medium enterprises, found that 60% of UK employees who accepted a counter offer ended up leaving the role within six weeks anyway. Could this be the case with you?

You also need to consider how your decision will affect your reputation in the sector. If you worked with a recruitment consultancy, will your recruiter work so diligently next time you’re job hunting? Would the prospective employer give you the time of day again over others, should you wish to apply to work there in future?

Changing jobs can be a challenging time and the key decisions you make can have a big impact on your long term career. If you’re thinking about your next opportunity and would like some advice, get in touch with Tom Howe at The Jefferson Group on 020 7717 9444 or email

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