Seeking a Counteroffer: Bonus or Misstep?

In my next two blogs, I want to take a look at counteroffers from both the employee and manager perspective. So as an employee, or a candidate for a new job… you may look at a counteroffer as a 100% upside proposition, right?  You may get more money, more power, more perks… but regardless you have an offer in your pocket, so you’re going to leverage that. You may not really be looking to leave, but merely using a potential new employer as a bargaining tool to get your current employer to pay you more. Be very careful.

Typically, seeking and accepting a counteroffer is really just the first step in rapid deterioration of an employee/manager relationship.

Impartially, recruiters (me included) encourage you to stay clear of counteroffers. But why?

Let’s look at a hypothetical example…

Jane is currently employed and is not thrilled about her current salary. Therefore Jane is staying proactive in exploring the job market.   She comes across a job that is of interest to her, applies and is brought in for an interview.  Next thing you know, Jane got an offer for the new position, but is not sure if she wants to make the jump.  Then, Jane makes what will end up being a poor choice.  She tells her current employer that another company is offering her a job in order to receive a counteroffer and get a raise.  Her tactic works, and she gets her counteroffer from her current employer and turned down the potential employer’s job offer.

In a perfect world, this is a happy ending – the employer keeps Jane and Jane gets more money… win-win, right? Not so fast. Here are reasons as to why Jane LOSES:

  • Reason 1: Jane came out and told her employer that she was looking/willing to leave. She added her own name to the top of her employers’ potential ‘layoff list.’
  • Reason 2: Jane’s employer now thinks she will continue to search for other jobs… to either leave or receive another counteroffer. She will now be seen as an unstable employee.
  • Reason 3: Jane’s employer couldn’t afford to lose her at that very point she may have resigned. So they took the short term hit and counteroffered in order to buy more time to replace her.
  • Reason 4: Was it just money that made Jane unhappy? Additional factors may be at play… and she may just be putting a band aid on the situation.
  • Reason 5: If Jane is lucky to keep her job long-term, she can forget about asking for a raise ‘the right way.’ It is unlikely that her employer is going to reward her after she tried to leave and already received an additional bump up in her salary from the counteroffer.
  • Reason 6: Jane’s entire plan could backfire on her.  She may be forced to take a job she didn’t want.
  • Reason 7:  in essence, the world is a small place and Jane used the potential employer merely for leverage at her current position.  She’s burned a bridge with the company, and who knows how many others given the hiring manager’s personal network.

In the beginning, getting a counteroffer is exciting.  It means more money and who doesn’t want that?  What we all must look at is the big picture. 70 to 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within a year.   ASK YOURSELF: what does the future hold for the decisions I make today?


Coming next week: Counteroffers from the Employer Perspective


2 Responses to “Seeking a Counteroffer: Bonus or Misstep?”

  1. Andrew says:

    Some very good points here. It’s amazing how many people will spend months winging about their employer, find something new, and then perform a massive U-turn to accept a counter-offer. If you want to leave, leave! This post builds on some of the points here nicely – http://www.intapeople.com/blog/i/281/desc/should-i-accept-a-counteroffer/

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