After working with a recruiter on an offer (and getting the offer) I got a comparable offer at my current company. I decided to decline the recruiter's offer and accept my current employer's counter offer.

How can I prepare myself for the "I decline your offer" conversation where I am fairly sure the recruiter will ask me why I chose to decline the offer and what were the details (PTO, salary, etc) of the offer that I chose to accept.

Suppose the recruiter asks:

What were the details of the other offer that you've accepted?

Do I say that "I chose the other offer because it paid $X and had Y PTO"? Or do I dance around the subject and say "I chose the other offer because it was better and suited me well" and keep replying in similar manner for as long as is needed while the recruiter persists?

To ask a different way, are there downsides in me providing the details of the offer I accepted?

What if the recruiter asks:

My offer is willing to counter, what will make you accept my offer?

For example the recruiter may ask me what will make me reconsider and accept their offer. Knowing the limits of the company and previous conversations, I could answer that "there is no package that you can realistically offer me to accept the offer", and if a counter offer comes anyway I can consider it.

To ask a different way, are there downsides to trying to "come up" with an offer to present to recruiter, which if recruiter meets that offer, than you will accept it? My mind however is much more firmly on the offer I already accepted, so the recruiter's offer is a losing one. I don't want to drag it on any longer.

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    As an aside, can I recommend (in general) not taking counter offers? It suggests that they could have paid you more, value the role at a higher level, but were only doing the bare minimum to get you in. It also often leads to bad blood and sometimes an assumption that you're chasing money or a flight risk. – Jon Story Aug 11 '15 at 8:50
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    Did you already accept your current employer's counter offer? If so, I'd say there's no real way for you to reconsider again and accept the recruiter's counter offer without utterly destroying your relationship with your current employer. – Lilienthal Aug 11 '15 at 10:36
  • And to add to @JonStory's comment, playing companies against each other is generally a bad idea because it's so aggressive and could lead to both offers (or current employment) being pulled. It would have been better to have independent salary negotiations with each party without bringing up the other offer. If your current employer won't budge and you feel like you need to bring up another offer to force a salary or benefits increase, that's a good indicator that you should be looking for a new position anyway. – Lilienthal Aug 11 '15 at 10:39
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    @Lili, yes I have already accepted current employer's offer – Chris Aug 11 '15 at 12:18
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    @Chris Thanks for the update, I suggested an edit on your question to mention that and improve its flow. I was a bit puzzled by your and if a counter offer comes anyway I can consider it. If you're saying to the recruiter that there is no possible offer he can make that you'll consider it doesn't really follow that you'd want to consider an offer if he made one anyway (which he shouldn't). Consider clarifying what you meant by editing your post. – Lilienthal Aug 11 '15 at 12:25

I would say you've decided to keep your current job and just really don't want to change/leave - "bird in the hand" sort of thing. You don't want it to look like you were using the other company to negotiate a better offer. It's none of their business.

You don't really need to go too deep. If you've been comfortable with the negotiation process and want to give them some feedback to help them find another suitable candidate, you can do that without any details about your situation/counter-offer.


Short answer: You are under no obligation at all to tell them why or how much you accepted.

If you have decided for sure to stay where you are, simply inform the recruiter that you have decided not to accept the offer and have taken on other opportunities. You don't need to say that you are staying where you are, and if asked how much just say that you would prefer not to say.

You control how much you wish to disclose to a recruiter, especially if you have decided to decline their offer. Tell them politely and firmly that you do not wish to accept the offer and don't let the pressure you into telling them more than you are comfortable with.

Above all, if it's a phone call then keep it short so they have no opportunity to try to quibble with you :)

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    +1, I would say a firm personal reason normally ends the conversations very quickly. i.e. "I got a great offer elsewhere so I'm withdrawing my application" is a statement that invites the recruiter to ask you about the offer. I'm assuming as you say your current placed matched the offer there are reasons beyond just money you want to stay. – Dustybin80 Aug 11 '15 at 8:17

We have to assume that there was no contract between you and the recruiter, especially one where you would pay their fee if they found you a position that met certain criteria.

If there is a contract between you and the recruiter you may have to give a reason why you are not accepting a position that meets the conditions set forth in the contract. They want to know why because the contract may stipulate payment for negotiating the offer.

If there is no contract between you and the recruiter then they work either directly or indirectly for the company that was interested in hiring you. The company and the recruiter would like to know why you are turning them down, so they can craft offers or negotiations in the future that will result in more completed acquisitions.

Without that contract you have to go no further than a polite rejection. It can be via email or by phone. But details are not required. They may ask but you don't have to tell.


To ask a different way, are there downsides to trying to "come up" with an offer to present to recruiter, which if recruiter meets that offer, than you will accept it?

First you need to decide if you are offering yourself to the highest bidder or not.

If you are, then you can present the details of the offer you are planning to accept (or at least the relevant details), then tell the recruiter "If you can beat that, I'll join your company."

If you are not up for bidding, then there is no requirement on your part to tell this recruiter anything other than "Thank you for your consideration, but I've decided not to accept your company's offer." You might choose to indicate that you have decided to stay at your current company and not include any of their offer details.

My mind however is much more firmly on the offer I already accepted, so the recruiter's offer is a losing one. I don't want to drag it on any longer.

If it's truly the case that you don't want it to drag on, then just end it. Thank them for the offer, but decline and don't suggest that you want another counter-offer.

Sometimes our ego gets in the way. We are flattered at the considerations and might like more. But I find it best to understand what I really want and once I get it, I focus on the future and don't look back.

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