J Patrick + Associates Blog

How to Handle a Counter-Offer

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 @ 11:00 AM
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The Pros and Cons of Accepting a Counter Offer

You’ve just gotten an offer for a new job. Congratulations!

Now comes the hard part; telling your present boss you’re resigning. There’s every possibility you might receive a hearty handshake and their very best wishes for your future. But there’s every other possibility that they meet your news with a counter-offer; a pay raise, a promotion, added vacation time or any other incentive they can offer. After all, nothing adds value like a little competition.

And the question you now have to face is whether you should take the counter-offer or stick to plan and leave for the new position. Well, if you ask most career experts they’ll tell you to turn it down on the spot and get on to the next position.

If this sounds counter-intuitive let’s break it down into PRO’s vs CON’s to understand why this is the prevailing wisdom.


The Pros of Accepting the Counteroffer

1. There’s nothing like feeling wanted. 

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be the one to break-up and have the other party at least make a pitch for staying? At least in the short term, you’ll feel very wanted.

2. The in-house promotion offers you a better title.

A larger leap ahead puts you in line for C-level that much sooner.

3. You can stay where you are with some of the benefits you would have gotten from the new position. 

You don’t have to worry about the new commute, new relationships or figuring out the workings of a new office.


The Cons of Accepting the Counteroffer

1. It took your employer too much time to recognize the value you bring.

While no position is perfect, an employee who feels valued, who is a good match with the culture and who is energized by the company they represent is less likely to explore other opportunities in the first place. Chances are, you wouldn’t have taken an interview if you were satisfied with your present position. Would a raise in pay or a new title really address your issues?


2. What you have to remember is this is a tactic to keep you on-board. 

Your present employer has invested time and money in you already; they want to get the maximum gain for that investment, and keeping you on is in the best interest of their bottom-line. A counter-offer might even simply be a knee-jerk reaction or an attempt to simply buy time until they can find an acceptable replacement. What it might not be is a symbol of the company’s long-term commitment to you. You’ve already identified yourself as a flight-risk, and while they may want to/need to keep you on in the short term, they’ll be looking at you with a different set of eyes going forward.


3. You have to remember why you took the interview in the first place. 

Think back on how you answered the question: “What could be working better for you in your current position?” Job satisfaction isn’t just about vacation days and perks; it’s about making a good match with a company whose products or services excite you, whose culture is supportive of your work and life styles and about a challenge that stimulates you. The very same things that used to bother you about your present position will not disappear under a new job title or behind a slightly larger paycheck.


The Bottom Line

Everyone wants to feel wanted, but rarely is that reason enough to stay in any relationship. the counter-offer may be attractive, but you need to remember that a career is built on steps and chances and challenges. Taking the counter-offer may sully you in the eyes of both the new company, who will now consider you off-limits, as well as your old company who, despite the favors they are showering you with now, may be already looking for your replacement.


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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews