April 16, 2012
Think twice before taking employer's counteroffer
Of all the hurdles in the path toward finding a new job, perhaps none is as fraught with emotion as telling your current employer that you are leaving.
You know you have to give ample notice and make sure you don't burn any bridges.
You may have written a formal resignation letter that offers a courteous reason for your departure, thanks your boss for all the opportunities you were given and wishes the company well.
So you're one foot out the door toward a new opportunity -- and the boss offers you a raise if only you will reconsider.
Beware. Counteroffers can be career land mines.
Money isn't everything
"It's not a good way to get more money," says Mike Sylvester, vice president of operations at AllTek Staffing and Resource Group in Monroeville, Pa. "You shouldn't leave a job strictly for money and you shouldn't stay for it, either."
Still, people often choose to stay in a job that just a little while ago they had planned to leave because, even more than money, employees want recognition for the work they do.
"A new value was put on them and they quit thinking about the reasons they were leaving in the first place," Sylvester says.
Don't be taken in. Even though an employer may offer more money to get you to stay, it doesn't mean your place in the company is secure.
"You've proven that you're not loyal and completely dedicated," Sylvester cautions. "The easiest person to replace you with in the short run is you," but that may not be true in the long term. "You are nowhere near as secure as the day before you accepted that counteroffer."
A dangerous precedent
And don't forget that the last message management wants to get out is that the way to get a raise at the company is to get a job offer.
There are more constructive ways to get appreciation and a raise than threatening to walk. Talk to your employer about your concerns and give them the opportunity to remedy the situation. You'll get a more honest appraisal of your place in the company and not a distorted version based on a fear of losing you.
Still, companies often make counteroffers because it's hard and expensive to replace a good worker.
"Your value is what it costs to replace you," Sylvester says.
Accepting a counteroffer often can mean nothing more than a short-term reprieve before the real reasons you were looking for a new job resurface and you're back on the market.
"Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they gain by giving that up," Sylvester says.
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