How To Decline a Counteroffer From Your Current Employer

Updated July 21, 2022

Employers often present counteroffers to valuable employees who are about to resign. A counteroffer can take the form of a promotion, bonus, pay raise or extra benefits. If you received a counteroffer you want to reject, acknowledging it while politely declining is the best way to preserve your professional relationships.

In this article, we discuss why someone might decline a counteroffer and how to decline it professionally and politely, including some examples.

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Why decline a counteroffer?

There are several reasons why you might want to decline a counteroffer and pursue a job with another company. These include:

  • You want to advance in your career

  • You would like flexible working hours or additional compensation

  • Your values no longer align with your current company's mission

  • You want to work in a different industry

  • Your personality does not align with your current company's culture

  • You want to change career paths

  • You want better health care, child care or benefits

  • You are moving to a new city

  • You have to resign due to personal or family reasons

Related: 16 Reasons Employees Leave Their Jobs

How to negotiate a counteroffer

If you receive a counteroffer you'd like to pursue, there may be benefits to negotiating further. Here are a few steps to negotiate a counteroffer:

1. Know your value

When negotiating your counteroffer, make a factual case for why you should get a better offer. For example, if the counteroffer involves an insufficient pay raise, you can say "I appreciate the counteroffer, but given my drive and performance, I believe my work is worth something in the $60,000 range."

You can then succinctly identify key achievements that you believe demonstrate your value. Additionally, you might provide reliable salary data from resources like the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics if the salary that the company offers you falls below the regional average for your particular job.

2. Take your time

Ask for a couple of days to review the counteroffer. Clear your mind and look at the counteroffer objectively. Even if you are inclined to decline the offer, giving yourself time to review the counteroffer can help you feel more confident in your final decision.

3. Consider non-salary benefits

Before you decline a counteroffer, look beyond the salary. Perhaps you get other perks and benefits, or maybe there are a few non-salary benefits you could ask for that would make a lower salary more attractive. You might ask for more vacation days, a performance bonus or flexible working hours.

Related: Salary Negotiation Scripts To Successfully Counter a Job Offer (With Examples)

How to decline counteroffer

If you decide to decline the counteroffer, doing it professionally will maintain your relationship with your former employer. Here's how to decline a counteroffer successfully:

1. Select the medium that makes you most comfortable

The first thing you need to establish is how you will tell your employer that you are going to decline the counteroffer. It's advisable to use the same method your employer used to extend the counteroffer. It's worth noting that if you decline a job counteroffer over the phone, your employer may still request an email so they have something written on file.

Related: How To Give Two Weeks' Notice (With Examples)

2. Express your gratitude

When declining a job counteroffer, it can seem a bit counterintuitive to start your message with sincere gratitude or "thank you," especially since you are not accepting the offer. However, it's important to remember that your employer may have spent energy and time retaining you as an employee. Thus, be as appreciative and thankful for that effort as you can.

Related: Guide to Thank You Notes

3. State your rejection clearly

When it comes to declining a job counteroffer, it's important to be clear about the fact that you are passing on the opportunity. This is a part that is easy to skip when you are focused on being diplomatic and complimentary. Including unnecessary details may leave your employer wondering exactly what your intention is. That doesn't mean you need to be harsh, but being brief and direct is key. For example, you can say, "After serious consideration, I have decided to decline the offer that you extended to me last Thursday."

Related: How To Write a Simple Resignation Letter: Tips and Examples

4. Give a short, yet honest reason for declining the job

You may be tempted not to explain why you are declining the offer. However, providing an honest reason is often better than leaving your employer to make assumptions. You might say something like "While your offer for increased vacation days was thoughtful and generous, Firefly Technology provides the career growth that I want to prioritize, so I intend to accept their job offer."

You don't have to include all of the details of rejecting the counteroffer but highlight the key points. It also helps to mention some of the aspects that you enjoyed about your current company to reemphasize your gratitude.

Related: How To Quit a Job the Right Way

5. Provide a referral

You won't always be able to give a referral after rejecting a counteroffer. However, if you know someone else who is currently looking for a job and could be a qualified candidate for your current position, offer to provide their name and contact information. For instance, you can say, "If you want to fill this position immediately, I do know someone who could be a great fit. It would be my pleasure to pass along their contact information."

Making the offer shows a certain level of consideration and care, but be sure to contact any potential referrals before you make the recommendations and discuss the job details with them.

Related: How To Refer Someone for a Job (With Letter Template and Example)

6. Express your willingness to keep in touch

Finally, if appropriate, you can end your rejection by letting your employer know how much you enjoyed your stay at the company and that you would love to stay connected. You can connect to them on social media so that you can keep in touch in a casual, low-pressure environment. Because you never know where your professional networking connections may lead in the future, it's useful to maintain them even after leaving a position.

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How to decline counteroffer examples

If you decide to communicate your rejection of a counteroffer via email, you can use the following sample letters as a starting point:

Example 1

Dear Mr. Benitez,

Thank you for your offer, but sadly I have to decline it. The past three years at BahoBilat, LLC. have been amazing. I have enjoyed working here and have gained so much professional experience. However, I have expressed my interest to advance several times over the years, and I see that this role doesn't have as much room for growth as I had originally expected. At this time, I want to pursue a position that can give me more responsibility and professional career growth.

Please consider this as my resignation letter from my role as HR assistant at BahoBilat, LLC, effective Jan. 30. Being your assistant has been very enjoyable, and I want to thank you again for the amazing time we shared. I wish you and your company all the best.

I hope that we can continue to stay in touch on social media and via email. Please don't be a stranger!

Martha McCarthy

Example 2

Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you so much for your generous offer. It's good to know that you value me as an employee. My time here at Dhaks Co. has allowed me to grow as a marketing professional. The industry knowledge I have gained from management and my peers will be the foundation for my long-term success.

However, it's time for me to take the next step in my career. It was a difficult decision to make, but I must decline your offer. This letter will serve as notice that my last day will be 03/29/2021. I wish everyone here a successful future.

Respectfully yours,
John Donahue

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