How do you handle a counteroffer? Is it worth accepting? What happens if you do?
You’ve been booking phone screens around the clock, mastering the challenging in-person interviews and painstakingly waiting for next steps from everyone you’ve spoken with. Finally, you receive the offer you have been hoping for from the company at the top of your wish list. Now, you’re ready, and excited, to move forward in your new role. Then suddenly, when you put in your two weeks’ notice, the unexpected happens: Your current company offers you something bigger and better.
A counteroffer typically involves your current boss expressing how valuable you are to the team, offering additional money for your responsibilities, or maybe even a promotion within your team. The feeling of being wanted is satisfying and validating, sure, but should you accept?
It’s difficult to leave a company once it’s become your comfort zone. It can be especially difficult depending on the duration of your employment with the company. It is important to keep in mind a few things that will help you discern if you should entertain this counteroffer at all.
Underlying meaning of a counteroffer.
Employers consider several things when contemplating a counteroffer when one of their most valuable and hard-working employees gives notice. It’s rarely ever just about one thing. Your boss and your company may value you as an employee, but why is the appreciation being shown after you shared the news that you’re leaving? Depending on the scenario, it could be any number of factors – even a lack of communication or awareness around the reasons you wanted to look elsewhere. Perhaps having an employee leave from a certain team or manager may not be a desired look for that department. Are you the only one who knows how to complete the current project or do the work you are doing?
Your current employer probably isn’t willing to lose any pieces to his/her puzzle, but make sure the counteroffer isn’t about what they need – it should be about what you need. What will this offer ultimately mean for your success and progression – are they addressing your reasons for leaving? From there, you can gauge if their intention is for your long-term career growth and happiness, to throw a last-ditch effort into the contest, or if it rests somewhere in-between.
Why did I start my job search?
Remembering the variables that lead you to open your job search is important. Likely, you were feeling underpaid and/or undervalued. According to Eclipse Software, Global studies revealed that 80% of candidates who accept a counter offer from their current employer end up leaving within 6 months and 9 out of 10 candidates who accept a counter offer leave their current employer within
the twelve-month mark. Money almost always plays a role when considering staying or leaving. According to the CEO of Salary.com, “Most studies report that employees leave their current jobs for better-paying positions.”
“Your original concerns that prompted your initial job search aren’t necessarily going to change with the acceptance of a counteroffer. Your concerns about growth and career development in your current role aren’t going to change after the counteroffer has been accepted,” states Kyle Sluzar, Managing Director of Jobspring Partners Atlanta.
Going back to the original reason you were prompted to look elsewhere will ultimately head you to understand what you need out of your next role. Once you know your needs, you should consider whether the counteroffer is truly going to accomplish those expectations long-term. If you accept the counteroffer, will it save you from another job search in six months?
Once your job search and departure become common knowledge to your current boss, your co-workers are most likely the next to know. Accepting a counteroffer might create tension between you and your current company because they know you want to leave. Accepting a counteroffer may not present an immediate consequence, but it could create a lingering scenario used as leverage in future career discussions. (If this is a real fear for you, scroll up and start your thought process over at “The counteroffer’s real intentions.”)
There are usually multiple parties involved when starting your job search, interviewing, negotiating salaries, navigating through counteroffers, and accepting a new role. Whether you are using a recruiter, mentor, or network connection, taking the step to resignation can be complicated. Check out our tips on how to resign from your tech role in good terms while also maintaining a strong professional relationship. With most networks connected somehow, maintain a strong reputation and loyalty to those you commit to. This is crucial when advancing throughout your career.
The best way to manage a counteroffer is to take the time to consider your options and map out different scenarios. Avoid eliminating your new opportunity or counteroffer right out of the gate, and rather take a step back to identify what you need in the next step of your career. Weigh the importance of your priorities and ultimately settle on the best route for you. It is likely you will receive a counteroffer more than once in your career, so identifying your career needs and goals will help you in any future work transitions. Whatever decision you make, learn from the process and take the experience as a lesson learned in negotiating and navigating your career.