Considering a Counter Offer? Stop and Read This First!

Considering a Counter Offer? Stop and Read This First!

It may be tempting to request a counter offer from your company, but as you’ll soon discover, the “counter offer game” is actually career suicide. Why? It’s quite simple.  

First, consider what your actions are saying.

Perhaps you feel undervalued or unchallenged at your company, so you decide to look elsewhere.  You apply until you receive a job offer, and you decide to use that to ask your company for a raise or career advancement.  In your mind, you believe you are showing them your true value.  In your employer’s mind, however, they hear things very differently.  Your employer hears, “I am the one in power now.  I’ve got you cornered now, and if you don’t give me what I want, I’m leaving.”  

When you ask for a counter offer, you don’t demonstrate your value in a fair, professional way.  Instead, you force their hand, and you appear to be manipulative and unreliable.  

The counter offer strategy is also a short-term, short-sighted solution.  Sure, that money may save the day, but it won’t save the year.  In fact, research shows that if you accept a counter offer from your own company, you will very likely change your job within the next 10 months anyway.

Even worse? Since the company no longer views you as a reliable employee, when times are tough, you’ll most likely be paid off or terminated first.

"When you play the counter offer game, you disrespect three people: yourself, your employer, and your potential employer (whom you turned down).

Here’s what you should do instead.

If you’re feeling undervalued or unchallenged in your current role, advocate for yourself in a professional manner.  Write down a list of your accomplishments which benefited your company, and speak with your current employer about a potential raise, bonus structure, or path to promotion.  Negotiate a win-win for both you and your employer.  A conversation might begin something like this: “Based on my accomplishments which I’ve outlined here, I see myself as an asset to the team.  I’d like to continue to add value for years to come, and I’d like to see how we might work toward a reasonable new compensation plan or performance-based promotion path.  Would you have some time to chat about ways in which we might come to a mutually beneficial agreement?”

Give your employer the chance to work with you on a new compensation or promotion plan, and be patient but reasonable in your negotiations.  During this time, yes, it’s perfectly okay to look privately and quietly for other job opportunities as well.  If your company is unwilling or unable to offer you a higher salary or better career path, then it’s probably time to start looking for another company.  If you have found another job offer at this time, then accept it and tell your employer that you are leaving for a better opportunity.  Thank them for the opportunities and experiences you did have with them, and leave on a positive note!

Don’t play the counter offer game!

If you’re tempted to play the counter offer game to get what you want, don’t.  Be professional and ask for a raise or promotion based on your merits instead.  Look quietly for jobs if needed, but don’t force an employer into making a decision by threatening to leave.  If you’ve decided to leave, leave.  Playing the counter offer game will get you blacklisted by employers; you’ll be known as an unreliable, unprofessional individual.  Your name and your word is all you have.  Honor it.

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