Beware of Counteroffers

They may beg you to stay now, then give you the boot later.

Scenario: You’ve been approached by another company and offered a position with growth potential and a moderate increase in compensation. You’ve agonized over the decision to leave your current company for what could be a better one, and decided to accept the offer. However, upon resigning, your current boss asks you to stay.

This is known as a counteroffer. While counteroffers can be tempting, take care not to fall into a trap or be blindsided. Counteroffer gestures can create confusion and buyer’s remorse, so understand what’s being cast upon you.

Counteroffers are typically made in conjunction with some form of flattery, such as:

  • You’re too valuable, and we need you.
  • You can’t desert the team/your friends and leave them hanging.
  • We were just about to give you a promotion/raise, and it was confidential until now.
  • What did they offer, why are you leaving, and what do you need to stay?
  • Why would you want to work for that company?
  • The President/CEO wants to meet with you before you make your final decision.

Counteroffers also take the form of:

  • More money
  • A promotion/more responsibility
  • A modified reporting structure
  • Promises or future considerations
  • Disparaging remarks about the new company or job
  • Guilt trips

Understanding the Offer

Think about how you felt when a key member of your team resigned. Employers typically don’t like to be “fired.” They are judged by their ability to retain employees not just by their supervisors, but also by their other staffers. Your resignation can lead to jeopardizing important projects, increasing workload, or foiling a vacation schedule. It’s never good when someone resigns because it may be time-consuming and costly to replace you. In the eyes of an employer, it’s better to keep you, even at a slightly higher salary. This way, they can fire you on their time frame when they have your replacement in order.

The Consequences of Accepting

Before accepting a counteroffer, consider this: If you were worth “X” yesterday, why are they suddenly willing to pay you “X + Y” today, when you weren’t expecting a raise for some time? After demonstrating your unhappiness at your current company, the worst thing you can do is accept the counteroffer. Your attempt at resigning will be perceived as blackmailing your boss for a raise. Many employers will even hold a grudge against you and you may have just been placed at the top of layoff hit list.

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