When to Take a Counteroffer from Your Employer

June 12, 2013 in

When to Take a Counteroffer from Your Employer

Counter offers should long be determined before you get to the offer stage with another company. We encourage our candidates to talk to their management prior to starting an interview process. The candidate can probe their management to see if the reasons they are looking to leave the company can be rectified. Most candidates are reluctant to have these discussions for fear of losing their jobs or management reprisals. Good companies and good management team’s want to retain their brightest and best and understand the costs and time associated with recruiting a new employee. If you are confident there would be a backlash in talking to your management about your career frustrations then the obvious answer would be to accept a new position and move on. Our experience is most counters do not work and can in fact hinder your career path. The reasons that motivated you to make a change are still part of the fabric of the company you are working for, and after a few months the warm and fuzzy feeling your management gave you has long been buried. The bottom line is before you accept and sign an offer letter you should already know if you would take a counter offer. We encourage our candidates to honor their signature as a firm commitment, just as the company that is offering you the position must honor their signature as well. Below is a good article about an employee who was in a counteroffer situation.

Mark Shelton, President – On the Mark Recruiting Specialists, Inc.

Q: Is taking a counteroffer bad for a career? I accepted a new job but then took a counteroffer from my current employer. I thought it would be better to stay at a place I knew and was told I could head up some new activities.

A: Knowing when to accept a counteroffer can be tricky. Mostly, the decision turns on whether you can be sure the factors that made you want to leave will change. Usually, counteroffers result in bigger salaries. If all you wanted was more money, taking your company’s offer may have been the right decision. Besides money or additional responsibilities, you may be able to negotiate more flexible hours, added time off, additional training, or getting an office.

“Where it gets gamey is when the company says, ‘Oh, we want to keep you and here’s what we’ll do for you,’ but you don’t have it in writing,” says Ken Stempson, director of administration and human resources for IntelePeer Inc., a communications company. He says about half of employees take counteroffers, but the majority start looking for new jobs within six months because they find that nothing really changed except the size of their paycheck.

If you want more things to change, you need to have a detailed discussion with your manager before you agree to stay. “The employee needs to probe deeply and almost overcommunicate why they wanted to leave and see if it will change in the future,” says Peter Vergano, senior manager of human-resources strategic staffing for Samsung Electronics Americas.

Companies usually don’t make counteroffers if they’re planning to dismiss someone, Mr. Vergano adds, but you should determine if an employer is making promises just to buy time to find a replacement. Also recognize that some managers resent having to make counteroffers and that it may damage your relationship. “Most managers I know are not happy being placed in a position of having to create a new opportunity,” Mr. Stempson says.

If you accept a counteroffer, be sure to end things gracefully with the employer who made the new offer. A team of people there probably put considerable time and effort into recruiting you, and each one deserves a personal note.

Perri Capell at perri.capell@wsj.com

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