The Counteroffer Conundrum – May 5, 2017

My friend recently made the decision to leave his company. He was offered a fabulous sales job for more money in the same industry. When he told his boss he was leaving in a few weeks, it was an awkward conversation. Then a few days later, the boss asked him what he could do to keep him at the current company. The boss made a counteroffer. It was more money than his current salary, but not more than his current offer, so he declined. It got even more awkward when the boss came back with a second counteroffer. Honestly, my friend was ready for a break and excited to start a new phase in his career.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these tips from business author Jacquelyn Smith on managing counteroffers effectively.

As Smith points out, many organizations are stretched to their capacity in terms of what they can get done with the people they have on board, and it can be overwhelming to think of training someone new. Training costs money. The company realizes you have a lot of contacts and are key to contributing to the bottom line.

In her article, Smith refers to Jim Stroud, director of sourcing and social strategy at Bernard Hodes Group and author of Resume Forensics: How To Find Free Resumes and Passive Candidates on Google. He points out that if an employer would invest in a higher salary and better treatment to begin with, this will keep the issue of turnover and potential delays in business to a minimum.

So, the first tip when resigning from a position is not to disclose the salary you are being offered by the other company. If you disclose this, then the current employer thinks it’s simply a money issue. And if it’s more personal than that, then that will be revealed if you turn down the offer.

Consider the reason you were looking for a new job in the first place. Was it only about money? Perhaps you are looking for a new challenge, new colleagues, a new corporate culture or flexibility at work? Maybe you are switching industries to follow a passion or interest? Accepting a counteroffer typically prevents you from accomplishing these goals, she says.

Second, you don’t want to burn bridges. If you accept the counteroffer, the other organization will never consider you again and in addition, your current employer will always question your motives, wondering if you will try to leave again. It plants a seed—level of doubt—that is difficult to dismiss.

Also, if you accept the counteroffer, co-workers will know and there could be some level of resentment. And the expectations for you to deliver are now even greater. You have to prove you’re worthy of the counteroffer.

There are exceptions to when a counteroffer might work. If there is a leadership change or turnover, if an employee gets overlooked on financial increases or promotions, then a counteroffer can make sense.

So how do you decline a counteroffer? Or the second offer or third? Obviously be polite and don’t burn bridges. Thank your boss for the counteroffer. Say you are flattered and recognize that leaving puts your current employer at a short-term disadvantage. Even offer to provide recommendations for potential hires.

Avoid the trap of the counteroffer. If you plan to leave a job, then leave. But be polite and respectful—and make your departure short and sweet.

Source: Jacquelyn Smith began writing for Forbes in 2010. It was just as the economy was starting to perk up and a fascinating time to cover the stock market, which she did for three months until she switched beats in September 2010. Smith now contributes to the Leadership channel, with a focus on jobs and careers—another hot topic in a time when people are vigorously hunting for jobs or desperately trying to hold on to the ones they have.

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