Thinking of Leaving your Job? Here’s How to Make a Counter-Offer Work for You
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Counteroffers are always easier to manage when you are getting hired and, especially since you're trying to negotiate salary and benefits.
When you resign, however, a counteroffer might not be as easy to manage. For one, counteroffers often come with a praise and an appeal to pity. Your manager would probably tell you how much of a valuable asset you are while also telling you how the team would be crippled if you leave. This will occur as they dangle more money in front of your eyes. Should you reconsider your decision to leave?
First, you would have to understand why your current company is making a counter-offer. Contrary to what you think, there are a lot of reasons why your boss might want you to stay. We all want to think that we are assets in our company and that the contributions we have made are valuable enough that they can't let us go. While this may be true, there are other reasons why counter offers are made:
- They are just giving you your next raise months early.
Carefully consider when your next raise is expected. Is the offer for a higher salary just an advance on your next raise? If you accept the counteroffer, when will you get a raise? Worse, does it mean that you will have to threaten to resign every time you want a raise?
- It is much more difficult or costly to find a replacement.
“A bird in hand is always worth two in the bush”. This proverb is particularly true when it comes to business, especially those operating in a very competitive industry. It might be costlier to search, recruit and train your replacement than keeping you even at a higher salary.
- It is for the benefit of the team or company, rather than yours.
Management might be considering that if you leave, the team will suffer. Those who are left behind will have to get a heavier workload, or you might be a part of an important project. When somebody leaves, it also affects the morale of the rest of the team.
- Empty promises. There are also counteroffers where you will gain nothing.
For example, if you are leaving your job because you were overlooked for a promotion, your boss would promise you a promotion as a counteroffer. This is basically an empty promise, because if they think that you should be promoted, they should have done so before you quit. If you are promised a promotion, get it in writing. Also, you might get a promotion now, but you might find it hard to see some career growth in the future.
The General Consensus: Counteroffers Are a Bad Idea
Knowing the various reasons for management to make a counteroffer puts it in a better light. No matter how attractive a counteroffer is at face value, you should always try to discern the motivation behind it. As such, a lot of career experts and human resource professionals are saying that accepting a counteroffer might not be a good career move for you.
Dick Saunders at Key Corporate Services thinks that accepting a counteroffer is tantamount to career suicide. Saunders writes that even if you accept it and stay with your company, your boss will certainly doubt your loyalty and the counteroffer is nothing really more than a way for them to buy time in getting you replaced.
Being a loyalty risk, the company will not trust you enough to invest in you and your career.
When to Consider Accepting a Counteroffer
Not every counteroffer is bad, however. A genuine counteroffer from your current employer should not be taken lightly. It is an indicator that they realize just how much of an asset you are to their team and how they would hate to lose you to the competition.
- Know that everything that is new will be difficult and scary.
Admit it or not, when you enter a new company, you are forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. It is always scary and difficult to start something new, so do not consider this when you are weighing your options.
- Objectively weigh your options for career growth at your old and new job.
You may be getting a higher salary as a counteroffer to stay in your old job, but your new job might hold better prospects for career advancement and growth. Or vice versa. See which one is better for your career in the long run.
- Consider the people.
You certainly do not know how your new co-workers will be at your new job, nor are you sure about the new company's culture. On the other hand, you might be happy where you are now. A counteroffer, if attractive enough, might be a good sign that you should stay where you are. Remember that career advancement and high salaries are not the only factors for success and happiness in a job. Andrew G. Rosen at USNews.com's Money Blog writes that unless you are looking for another job because you want to get out of unsatisfying work or because you hate your boss, you should take a long hard look at the counteroffer.
- Get everything in writing.
If you are considering accepting a counteroffer, then you should get everything that the management promised into writing. If they dangle a promotion, salary increases, better work quality somewhere along the way, make sure that you have a document to prove it. It would also help if you have a definite time span for each promise. Do not be contented with just getting a promotion. Ask for a promotion "within the next six months" or a raise effective immediately.
- Do not forget the other company.
If you decide to accept a counteroffer, make sure that you set up a personal meeting with the new company to properly decline their job offer. Always show respect so that you do not burn bridges down the road, especially if you have already indicated or showed signs earlier that you are accepting their job offer.
As with any movements in your career, there are always options that you should consider. From the moment you get hired in a company to the moment that you walk out of their doors forever, you need to be aware of sincerity of the company. Always take into consideration why you want to leave in the first place and see if the counteroffer addresses that. Then keep these tips in mind to help guide you in your decision.