Counter offers: should you stay or should you go?

There’s a rush of excitement when you are made an offer, but if you are also presented with a counter offer from your current employer, things can become complicated.

Should you move on to or stay where you are, especially if your current team is willing to give more to retain you?

Due to talent shortage, this is a common scenario for an in-house lawyer working in the tech industry, so you will likely encounter this situation almost every time you change jobs.

How can this situation be navigated to your long-term benefit?

Revisit original goals

There was a reason you started your job search in the first place.

Was it due to dissatisfaction with your role, seeking a fresh challenge, or looking for better work-life balance?

If the underlying issues are not addressed, a temporary financial boost will not bring long-term satisfaction.

Besides, you might wonder where the money for the counter offer is coming from – could it be an advance on your next pay raise?

Think long-term

Does the counter offer propel you towards your career goals, or is it merely a short-term band-aid?

If you can see yourself back on the job market within a year, a counter offer will more damage to your career than good.

Examine the entire package

Don’t just focus on the salary hike. Is your current employer offering enhanced benefits, better work conditions or significant progression?

Perhaps you can negotiate additional training or financial support for further studies.

Evaluate how these align with your personal and professional needs, and make sure the changes are realistic in the context of your team and organisation.

Too often we hear that promises stay just that – promises.

Are the promised changes realistic?

Promises of change are attractive, especially if they come alongside a counter offer. However, stay realistic. How feasible are these promises? If specific changes are being pledged, like a new role, reduced work hours, or additional training, ensure that these are put in writing. Verbal assurances can be forgotten or dismissed once the risk of you leaving is mitigated.

Why now and not before?

It’s essential to question why these improved conditions or benefits weren’t provided to you initially. If you were such a valued asset, why did it take the possibility of you leaving for them to recognize your worth? This can shed light on the company’s true valuation of you and its overall work culture.

From now on, you are a risky employee

Once you have let your employer know about your dissatisfaction, your commitment may be questioned from that point on. Accepting a counter offer might tag you as a potential flight risk in your current organization. This could lead them to see you as less loyal or reliable. In some cases, employers offer counter offers as a stop-gap measure, buying time to find a replacement at their convenience. You might soon find yourself sidelined or overlooked for future opportunities.

A cost saving exercise

Counter offers are not just about retaining talent but about avoiding stress and extra costs to the business. Replacing you with a new employee will be a costly exercise. Consider recruitment fees, onboarding and training time investment (weeks of your manager’s time), initial reduced efficiency of the new hire, and potentially offering a higher salary to attract decent talent in a highly competitive market of in-house tech lawyers. It is cheaper and more convenient for a company to retain an existing employee, even at a higher package, than to go through the recruitment process.

Get an external opinion

Sometimes, an external perspective can provide clarity. Whether it’s a mentor who has known you for years or a recruitment consultant who understands the intricacies of the in-house lawyer market, seek counsel. Their objective insights can help you see angles you might have missed, ensuring you make an informed decision.


Research shows that 90% of those who accept counter offers still leave their roles within six months.

A counter offer can be an affirmation of your value to the organisation, but it’s crucial to look beyond the immediate benefits and ensure that any decision made aligns with your career trajectory and personal growth.

That’s all for today.

See you next week.