About a month ago, a recruiter contacted you about a new job opportunity. Truth be told, you were getting a little bored in your current job, so the timing was good. You updated your résumé, went on the interviews, and hot-diggety-dog – you got the job! As a matter of fact, you received a written job offer, and accepted the position.
You ask to speak with your manager so that you can resign. After sauntering into his office, you thank him for the opportunity to work with the company, and you hand him your resignation letter.
You read the panic in your manager’s eyes. Your resignation is now his very problem. Your projects are now his projects, and he’s going to need to replace you. He asks you about your new job – responsibilities, salary, title. Then he thanks for you for coming into his office.
A couple hours later, your manager asks you if you could step into his office for a few minutes. He’s holding an envelope in his hand.
He closes the door. After telling you how much they value you at the company and that he would like you reconsider your decision, he hands you the envelope he’s been holding.
You open the envelope. Inside is a counter-offer. Your company would like you to stick around. And to do so, they are offering you more money. In fact, it’s a raise greater than than the other company offered you. In addition, they’re offering you an increase in job title, too.
You’re puzzled. Okay, maybe your last performance review was good, but you were told at the time that you “need more time in your current position to master your job before being ready for a promotion.”
What do you do?
Companies give counter-offers for many possible reasons. The two biggies are:
They value you a great deal. They weren’t able to push through a raise / promotion / etc. before, but now you’ve given them a compelling reason to fight and make it happen.
They need your skills – right now. And it would be painful to replace you.
It’s nice to be wanted. Really nice. And few things feel nicer than your boss showering you with compliments and cash to stick around.
But counter-offers are tricky business. Before accepting any counter-offer, consider the following:
The company makes a counter-offer from a position of weakness – they need you, and you’re leaving. Although they may be giving you incentive to stay, their position of weakness ends the moment you decide to stick around.
What does it say that the company needs you to have a competing offer in order to provide you with a raise or promotion?
I’ve heard of people who have successfully leveraged a counter-offer into a better situation for themselves at work.
Some companies may extend a counter-offer to keep you around, while in the meantime they simultaneously conduct a confidential search to hire somebody new into your job. Your acceptance of the counter offer buys them the time to find an individual who hasn’t demonstrated “disloyalty” to them.
Accepting a company’s counter-offer tells them that you have a price.
Remember why you decided to explore other job opportunities to begin with. If you were frustrated with the environment, that’s certainly not going to change. Ditto for your boss, the commute, and the business model.
By accepting a counter-offer, you will burn a bridge with the other company who originally extended you an offer. They were expecting you to join them, and now you’ve screwed up their plans.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies LLC, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience.
Your questions about the hiring process, or ideas for future articles are welcome! You can email Scott at email@example.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.