I work at one of the largest companies in my country (employer A) and am getting paid an amount X. However I do work a lot of overtime for free, and stress is always the case in all my projects.

I was offered a job by a small company (employer B), who offered 20% increase on X. I was very excited to take on this opportunity as I had more pay, and less working hours, as employer B only asked for the standard 8 hours workday.

I signed the contract with employer B, and submitted my resignation to employer A with a one-month notice period. However, employer A made a counter offer for 50% increase on X (employer B was at 20% increase on X), along with a promotion. Employer A also promised better working hours and we agreed that I will not be working overtime hours anymore.

I am tempted to accept employer A's counter offer, however I am confused whether or not I'm making the correct choice. Also, I don't know how to address employer B to tell them that I backed down on the contract we signed and not the burn bridges, even though the joining date is just 3 weeks away.

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    The question is Do I work just for money? - I hope not - people need other motivations for working. So why did you look for pastures new? – Ed Heal May 15 '16 at 9:51
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    Rule #1 is "Never take a counteroffer unless you're 100% certain you aren't going to get screwed over, and even then you're 99% likely to get screwed over". – Richard May 15 '16 at 12:19
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    I would be very surprised if your overtime hours with Employer A went away. Unpaid overtime is nearly always the result of pressures that the employer is under that is beyond even their control, e.g. overdue deadlines and stuff. It's difficult to see how the employer can suddenly magic them away. If this were possible then they were screwing you over in the first place by making you do them, so they are not to be trusted. The only legitimate way I can see of doing this is by hiring someone else as well as giving you the raise - which they would have said to you if they intended to do. – colmde May 16 '16 at 10:34

In my experience it's tricky to follow through an employer's promises, especially if the agreement is only verbal. Also, there are a lot of sad stories on the Internet wherein an employee was promised a raise by an employer not to take the offer of another one. And the employee took it. So employee stayed. Employer did not raise the employee's salary.

I suggest you still leave Employer A, and take Employer B's offer. With the latter, your pay, your working hours, your overtime rules are defined, and will more likely be followed. Apparently Employer A did not disclose how your working hours will look like in the first place.

Why not leave Employer A? Are you certain they will not work you overtime without pay in the future?

Even if they wrote you a new contract for this, and they violated it by still working you overtime, paying you the same, etc., the fact remains that they have wasted your time, and your relationship with Employer B is destroyed besides.

However, if you really wanted to leave, then before cutting it off with Employer B, make sure that the new contract with Employer A is solid enough that they will the incentive to follow through their agreement. Then make a sincere apology to Employer B, tell them something like,

"Employer A gave me a counter offer, one that I can hardly refuse because I need to take care of my personal finances."

You will unlikely get a bad rap for leaving Employer A. You made a graceful exit submitting a resignation letter with a 1-month notice. But you will get a bad rap for reneging on your new contract with Employer B. And possibly legal action.


First of all I'd like to say to you that you made a big mistake - sign a contract with Employer B, and not discuss it with Employer A first.

What you should have done is agree to sign the contract with B, discuss it with A first, see if they give you a counteroffer, weigh your options and then choose your path.

Also, from the question, it seems you're talented, and A works you hard but doesn't want to lose you, and B is a new company that's excited to have someone like you join their team. Also, since A is big and gave a large raise on X, it's unlikely that small B will be able to match it, so don't ask them to.

As it is now you have a right way and an easy way:

1. Accept A's counteroffer

This is the easy way out. Decline B's contract, take A's counteroffer and hope for the best. As others have said, B won't take to this kindly, and your reputation will be damaged, as you'll make an impression you take money over integrity which is seriously not cool.

2. Decline the counteroffer and continue with B

This is the right way out, and better for you long term. Due to unfavorable working hours and stress, you went with B, which you think will help, and more. So take that over money and accept their offer. In a way, you'll have to, since you have signed a contract.

Basically, this is a discussion to be had before you finalize, i.e. sign a contract. The fact that you already did negates any need for this discussion.

  • This is the only correct answer.. The OP already made an agreement with company B. End of Story. Trying to weasel out of an agreement because some seemingly sweeter deal comes along is the mark of a dishonest and untrustworthy person. I personally would never do business with anyone who acted in such a manner. – DanK May 17 '16 at 18:54
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    I don't know about the first sentence, but that's because I don't believe in counter offers full stop. +1 otherwise – Nathan Cooper May 17 '16 at 22:01

I don't know how to address employer B to tell them that I backed down on the contract we signed and not burn bridges

Only you can decide if you are making the correct choice.

If the only two issues that made you look elsewhere were salary and overtime, then perhaps choosing to stay is the right choice. You'll only know eventually.

On the other hand, you did mention stress. It's hard to see how that issue would go away. And in my experience, things never really change after accepting a counter-offer. Things might get a bit better for a while, but in the long run things revert to the way they were. Perhaps your experience will be better.

As far as how to tell employer B, you simply say something like "I'm sorry, but my current employer has given me an offer I feel that I need to accept, so I won't be joining you after all." Tell them immediately. I'm assuming you aren't playing a "can you top this?" game, so you don't need to go into details.

You probably won't be able to avoid burning bridges, since you are basically telling employer B that you are willing to go back on your word even if you sign a contract. Most likely they understandably won't be happy with that, and won't consider you for future employment.


If the only answer you want is how to tell employer B. The best way to to call them on the phone and tell them. You should then follow it up with a email.

The sooner you do this the better. They may have told other candidates the position was filled. The longer you wait the less likely they can still make an offer to their next choice.

You don't have to give a long explanation, you only need to let them know you will not be joining them.


  • You should look over anything you signed to make sure there are no penalties or other deadlines.
  • Read other questions on this site regarding promises broken, or retaliation by employer A. They may have only made a counter offer to save face, or to delay your leaving long enough to find and train your replacement.

If you back out on employer B then consider that bridge burned. Decide soon and just tell them.

You need to decide if employer A is sincere. 50% and a promotion is sweet if it is real - they intend to keep you long term. Was HR, your boss, and your bosses boss involved? A promotion and no overtime is a little inconsistent. But a promotion kind of legitimizes it. If they were just giving you money to keep you around long enough to replace you then there is no purpose to giving you a promotion. Is your boss someone you trust? Do you know of anyone else that was given a counter offer and retained long term?

Even if they do dump you in 6 months you have higher position and 50% more pay but it is also harder to find a job without a job and if they are that spiteful then you are not likely to get a positive referral.

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