Counter Offer Advice

So you have finally resigned:

There could be many reasons for your resignation:

  • Salary
  • Work Pressure
  • Family/Personal Reasons
  • Relations with your reporting manager/colleagues, etc

But it was a decision you took and not the company.

Counter offer

Remember, every company while hiring makes sure that they hire the best out of the pool of talent that is available. They train you and then put your on project and assign work to you.

After resigning, getting a counter offer (Hike on current salary or Promotion) is quite common in most of the industries. It takes lot of time and money for a company to find and replace valuable staff, so unless the decision is mutual, the company will want to do what it can to retain the employee. Given today’s tough job market, who wouldn’t want to be in a situation where two companies want you?

What does a counter offer look like?

A counter offer happens when you have accepted another employment offer and your current employer comes back with new terms in order to tempt you to stay with your current company.

Essentially, there are two types of counter offers that you might encounter:

1) Financial: When you advise you have accepted a new job and are serving your notice, your employer presents you a counter offer with an increase in your current salary. Sometimes, if they know your new remuneration terms, their offer might match or beat this level; otherwise it could just be a ballpark guess at what salary might retain you.

2) Emotional: This is a tough one as it often relies upon your sense of loyalty. This occurs, not in the form of a formal offer, but in a reiteration of your value and sometimes suggestions or promises of better things to come in the future. Your employer might ask you to stay, with a reminder that things are going to improve at work, a renewed promise to find new resources, an agreement to promote you as soon as possible or even an appeal to your sense of loyalty by asking you to stay with the team until a project is delivered (Most common).

What should you do? - Say NO ! !

If, on receiving your resignation, your current employer offer to increase your salary or a promotion, it is not with your best interests at heart but their own.

Now, you would say, ‘But receiving a salary increase or promotion is a sign I’m doing the right things’, you might think. ‘It suggests my boss wants to keep me on board as I’m a valuable asset’.

Well yes, you are an asset but only because it will cost more to replace you than keep you, especially if your resignation has come as a surprise or at a time when your company cannot be without resources. Boosting your salary or promoting you is a means for your HR to keep you within the organization until you become more disposable.

In short, it buys them time to complete necessary short-term projects and implement the search for your replacement when it best suits them.

Of course, this isn’t to say you’ve not been valuable to your organization and they won’t be sad to see you go. If you’ve proven your worth, it is unlikely they will want to lose you. However, good bosses and hiring managers understand that people do not remain with one company all their life, and that moving on is a natural part of a career cycle. A counter-offer may be a knee-jerk reaction to the prospect of losing a valued employee, but all good organizations know that personnel change is part and parcel of running a business.

Why is accepting a counter offer a costly career mistake?

It is very rare that a counter offer is successful in the long term. It is probable that even after accepting an appealing offer, you will be gone within 6 -12 months. Either, your initial reasons for leaving will pop up again and you will resign or you will be terminated by the company that convinced you not to leave. Here are few reasons why accepting a counter offer could be a costly career mistake:

  • You may lose trust
    By telling your employer you’ve either been offered or accepted another position, you’re essentially saying you’ve been unhappy. So even if your company does counter, how can it trust that you won’t eventually stray again?
  • Bank balance remains the same in the long run:
    A better pay packet may make you happy in the short term, but these financial gains are unlikely to last. Since the extra money to keep you on board has to come from somewhere, it is likely this was simply the money allocated for your next bonus or raise, diminishing the true value of the counter-offer.
  • You are burning bridges:
    Just as threatening to resign can leave a bad taste in your current employer’s mouth, going back on an offer you accepted from another company can sour its view of you as well. Even if your acceptance was oral, it’s still viewed as an agreement between you and the company. If you decide to stay put but things don’t get better, you’ve burned a bridge with a company that may have been a better fit. Hiring managers and recruiters will never forget your indecisiveness, and you may well shut off future opportunities. Certainly, you will never be considered for another position at the company you changed your mind on.
  • You lose your Reputation:
    Accepting a counter offer after you’ve made the decision to leave, marks you out as indecisive and causes people to lose trust in you. Your relationships with both colleagues and superiors will certainly change. Your team might wonder why you were cut a special deal when they have not received such benefits, despite never threatening to leave. This can breed resentment and may mark you out as a scapegoat when things go wrong. After all, who is going to support you when it looks like you were going to run, only to be enticed to stay when you got your own way?

Far from being a vote of confidence, a counter-offer is the career 'Kiss of Death'.

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