Today’s Wall Street Journal has some great counter offer advice for people who’ve gotten a possible new position, but their current employer makes a pitch to keep them.   I spoke to the reporter to chime in on this topic, and here’s the full article: Rebuilding your Career After a Move to Quit

Here are my two cents on counter offers:

Can a counter offer ever work out?

Yes, possibly.  If someone’s unhappy because of a situation that’s only structural (pay, title, project assignments) and NOT cultural (boss, politics, advancement opportunities), it’s possible that a counter-offer can rectify the situation.  If an employer has grown by leaps and bounds, and hasn’t kept up with salary trends, or if a new mom thinks she needs to leave in order to go to part time status, it’s possible that the employer can fix the structural situation.  You still have to wonder why the employee didn’t feel empowered to speak up before getting a new offer, or why the employer might have been out of touch with the situation, but I can see why a new agreement could be worked out in good faith.

If, however, the larger issue is something cultural: if the boss isn’t great, if the industry’s stagnant, if there’s no room for real growth, then in my opinion, accepting a counter offer only delays the inevitable.  Soon enough, either the employee will get antsy and look again, or the employer will conduct a stealth job search to replace what they see as a disloyal employee.

If you do accept a counteroffer and stay at your current employer, then keep your eyes open for an “anonymous” company posting a job that looks and sounds a lot like yours.  And, as I mentioned for the article, make sure you’re making very visible attempts to support the company and your boss in the days/months after the counter-offer.

If you are still thinking about whether or not to accept a counter-offer, then you need to weigh the following factors for your current and possible new employer:

-Company growth plans

-Long-term financial stability/risk

-Current and possible boss (an old adage is that people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses… so choose your next boss wisely)

– Skill growth opportunities

-Company culture (check out company reviews on

-Title/Managerial responsibilities

-Industry fit/Industry growth

And, last but not least… is your current boss the type to hold grudges, even if you stay?

Counter-offers lead to a tough decision.  Of course, it’s nice to be wanted, but it’s hard to know what to do – these tips can help you decide.