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I have recently signed and accepted an offer of employment from another company that I applied for a role in. When I informed my current company of my intended resignation, they counter-offered with a guaranteed promotion in the next round, including more opportunities related to the role that I want to pursue (this was done through a mobile call, without anything written down). What do you think should be the better move?

For context, this is in Australia - will there be any legal implications if I renege on an offer I signed? How likely will it be for the other company to pursue charges against me, and if there is a possibility that my current employer can take this against me and treat me unjustly if I do accept their counter offer, is there anything I can do given that it was only a verbal counter offer?

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    Check on here about company promises... even if written down they don't always happen... – Solar Mike Feb 22 at 9:47
  • +1 On the company promises not working out. Happened to a co-worker of mine. He never got the promotion or salary bump, they promised when he took the counter offer. It took him while to get another offer and meanwhile your manager made his work life a living hell. Never take the counter offer! – jcmack Feb 22 at 9:53
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    "a guaranteed promotion in the next round," ... unfortunately that is only talk; talk means nothing. "only a verbal counter offer" as you surely know, talk is nothing. You do not have a counter-offer. Politely leave and enjoy your accepted new career! – Fattie Feb 22 at 10:45
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    The next conversation with the manager is usually " sorry, there has been an economic downturn so what we promised you won't happen..." – Solar Mike Feb 22 at 11:28
  • Any offer that is made, get it in writing or its pretty much worthless! – Uciebila Feb 22 at 11:38
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This happens frequently, and the standard advice is: Don't take the counter-offer.

Why? Consider this: Whatever they're promising you, they could've done it already.

A raise, a promotion, a lot of vacation, whatever it might be: If they can do it now, then they could've done it before you approached them wanting to resign.

They didn't value you enough to do it then. It doesn't make sense that they'd turn around and do it now, when you're about to leave. And now they know you've been thinking of leaving. Oh, they might keep their promises. But the promises could be simply in order to buy themselves breathing room in which to replace you at their leisure, regardless of how the timing works out for you.

Wish them well and go to your new opportunity.

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    Absolutely agree. A relationship between an employee and a workplace is still a relationship; would you stay in a bad relationship if your partner promises you they'll be better, when they find out someone else is interested in you? I hope not. – Yury Feb 22 at 13:18
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  1. Never accept a counter offer. You're a marked man if you do. The company will get rid of you as soon as they can.

  2. Never go back on a signed contract. If you have doubts whether to accept or not, resolve this before signing.

  3. This all sounds like promises. Promises are cheap, and when they don't realise, your new job is gone.

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I don't know what are the legal implications, but you did sign a contract so you're expected to commit to that. If you brought it up when they made an offer, but you haven't signed yet, it would be an entirely different story.

You have to ask yourself whether the salary is the only reason you were looking for a new role in the first place. How were you treated? Did you enjoy your work? How is the company work culture? All of these things aren't likely to change if you stay.

Personally, just matching the offer of the other company wouldn't be enough for me. It shows they're only willing to make the bare minimum effort to keep you. It's just not good enough. Staying with them would actually be quite risky, as they know you're willing to leave, and have the confidence to actually do it, they'll probably keep you on just long enough to find another under-payed replacement.

I would turn down their offer, say farewell, and go on a new adventure.

  • Good answer. It's very likely salary and the role are not the only reasons the OP decided to sign a contract somewhere else. And those other things are not likely to change! – Caroline Feb 22 at 13:19
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"Guaranteed promotion" is not always guaranteed. I recommend that you stick with the new company. Moreover, as you describe it, the "guaranteed promotion" is mainly more work, not more money.

One "trick" you may try is to talk to the new company and tell them about the counter offer from current company (without going into the details!!). You may be able to negotiate your salary up a bit - although not guaranteed.

You can approach the new company with something like:

Following our agreement, my current employer made me a counter offer. I will feel no regrets joining you if you agree to increase my salary with... I will join you even without the salary increase, but my level of motivation may be negatively impacted by losing the benefits of the counter offer.

Of course, the suggested salary increase should be reasonable. We cannot advise you on this. You should be ready to accept a denial of the salary increase, as well.

  • I would avoid mentioning the counter offer to your new employer. Timing is everything, and the timing for that conversation was before you signed the offer. – Milton Feb 22 at 19:18
  • Definitely don't do this: if you signed an offer, only to then try to negotiate further based on a counter from your current company, then there's a realistic chance you will end up with neither job. – dlev Feb 23 at 17:00
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Get everything in writing! Ask your boss to email you the proposed counter offer (or better yet, printed and signed)

Remember though, that a promise is just that. Unless they are promising to do something with immediate effect, that is tangible, I would be highly suspicious about holding out for a future promise. They may very well not honour it, or potentially worse, let you go before they have to make good on it. A contract would certainly go some way to allaying this fear, but is certainly nowhere near bulletproof.

Which job (or company) would you prefer?

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