Why Counteroffers Only Delay the Inevitable

Posted: 07/09/14 | Category: Job Search

Hypothetical situation: You get a job offer. All your hard work paid off and you have a start date scheduled. The next day, you pull your manager aside and confidently give your two weeks’ notice. There’s resistance. He or she cajoles you with compliments, says you’re indispensable, and drops a hefty counteroffer in your lap.

The sum surpasses your salary and then some. Temptation flickers at the edge of your mind. That extra money is hard to pass up, but consider this before you take any counteroffer.

Why is the Counteroffer Being Made?

Counteroffers are never planned. No manager consciously ponders what to offer a good employee when he or she tries to leave. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to a bad situation.

Uncertainty prompts the counteroffer in the first place. Your departure changes the whole company equation. Employers who make counteroffers want some certainty: to end the employment agreement on their term. That could be years down the road or as soon as they find a comparable replacement. It’s a gamble for you one way or another.

Where’s the Source of this Extra Money?

The money for your counteroffer doesn’t appear out of thin air. It has to come from somewhere and usually, that’s coming out of your promotions down the line. Think of it as an advance on several promotions in one lump sum – you shouldn’t expect any raises for quite some time.

And if the company overpromises, providing you with a higher salary than they can afford, it will be much more tempting for them to find your replacement. Even if you’ve otherwise been on good terms. 

Why You Don’t Really Want to Stay

Those who accept counteroffers don’t tend to stay for the long haul. There are plenty of possible reasons for them to be gone (the company finds a replacement, the person becomes a good candidate for downsizing, etc.) but what often gets overlooked is the employees own motivation. You wanted to leave in the first place. How long is money going to fix it? Ask yourself: why did I want to leave in the first place? Was it because of…

• A lack of challenge?
• No upward mobility?
• An incompatible work environment?
• At-work conflicts?

Will money remedy any of those issues? Usually not and before long, the same wanderlust will get you ready to restart your job search. So, cut out the middle step. Take the original offer and don’t put yourself through all the extra hassle.

by James Walsh


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