The Blog

With a Job Change, Don’t Fall for the Counter Offer

I recently found a fantastic new position for someone (I’ll call him Bob). The new role had everything Bob wanted – more money, more responsibilities, and an accelerated career path.  Bob couldn’t be happier. But when he tried to give notice, Bob was shocked his boss offered him more money, a promotion and new responsibilities. Bob was overwhelmed and decided to stay.

Fast-forward six months:  Bob was still waiting on some of the promises, things at work had actually gotten worse, and the extra money lost its allure. He wondered if that great job he interviewed for was still open; but unfortunately, it wasn’t. It was a tough lesson, but Bob learned that if a counteroffer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here’s what Bob can teach us about counteroffers:

A Panic Move
You may feel overwhelmed and elated after a counteroffer, thinking, “They like me…they REALLY like me!” Yet, what you may have gained will likely come with a cost. Put yourself in your manager’s shoes. If you leave, there is a hole in her team, a loss of productivity, and her butt (not yours) on the line.  Keeping you is easier and less time-intensive than recruiting, interviewing, and hiring your replacement.

Money and Guilt
A resignation backs a manager into a corner and he may try two tactics: throwing money your way or making you feel guilty. Ridiculous salary increases should raise a red flag. “How come I wasn’t worth that much more three days ago?  Have I been that underpaid for all of these years?” The guilt trip may be more subtle, but is just as effective. Managers may ask, “How could you do this to us, to me? We need you. The department can’t run without you! I was just going to tell you about the big plans we had for you!” Unfortunately, promising employees the world out of panic, rather than sound business strategy, seldom works for the employee or the company.

A Changed Relationship
A counteroffer forever alters the dynamic between an employee and manager. Your manager will no longer see you as a loyal, long-term employee and she may think twice before giving you the next juicy project. If layoffs occur, you may be one of the first victims.

Trust is Gone
Your manager may now be suspicious of you. Every time you have a dentist appointment or leave early for your kid’s soccer game, your manager may think you’re interviewing again.

The Problems are Still There
The reasons you wanted to leave your job to begin with -a difficult manager, grueling hours, no opportunity for growth, etc. - still exist. Those issues aren’t going to magically disappear, even with more money.

You’ll Leave Anyway
Studies have shown that the majority of people who accept a counter ultimately leave their company within a year. Why? Because after the thrill of making more money wears off, you’re stuck in the same job with the same problems.

Resigning from a job is usually emotional, even without a counteroffer.  A counteroffer raises the emotional stakes.  Accepting a counteroffer is almost always a bad move. If you receive one, remember the reasons you wanted to leave in the first place.

Stay focused and level-headed. Be objective. Try not to be swayed by emotion, and most importantly, look forward to starting your new job!