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MANAGING A JOB COUNTEROFFER

If you are an employed job seeker, you may receive a counteroffer from your employer once he or she learns of your new job opportunity. If you receive a counteroffer, what should you do?


Although some employer’s may react to your resignation by extending a matching or attractive counteroffer, most resignations result in your immediate dismissal or in an extended series of discussions and counter measures designed to keep you with the firm as long as possible while the employer finds your replacement.


Employers who make counteroffers typically make them out of desperation and panic. They realize that their financial loss will be greater losing a productive employee and paying to find a replacement, than losing the cash associated with a counteroffer which may get you to stay.


Most career experts will advise you that it is better to reject a counteroffer than to accept it. According to a well known study by the Fordyce Letter, 8 out of 10 candidates who accept a counteroffer from their current employer, end up leaving anyway within the first 12 months (“Counteroffer Acceptance: Road to Career Ruin” published by Paul Hawkinson with the Fordyce Letter).


There are many reasons why you should not accept a counteroffer. To begin with, your resignation will likely result in a breakdown in employer trust. Most managers never forget a resignation, and will always question your future loyalty. Earning a promotion by resigning sends the wrong message to coworkers, and will leave unanswered questions in everyone’s mind about whether or not you truly earned it. You are also left wondering if you will need to resign again the next time you seek a promotion. Finally, it’s a fact that people and companies seldom change, and the reasons and circumstances that motivated you to leave the firm in the first place will likely remain unchanged.


If you decide to resign, it is usually best to do so in writing to create a sense of finality and certainty for all parties involved. By showing an unwavering commitment to your new career opportunity, you are less likely to be dragged into a series of heated discussions that neither you nor your employer want. By expressing any signs of uncertainty in your decision, you offer the employer false hope of you staying, which will only encourage them to invest themselves more deeply in a counteroffer strategy. The more time the employer invests in trying to keep you, the harder he or she will take it when you finally say no.


By opening the door to a counteroffer, you jeopardize your relationship with your new employer who has proven that they recognize your talent, and are willing to risk their future by investing in you. In addition, accepting a new employer’s offer is a commitment that most employers expect you to honor. By accepting an offer from a new employer and then rejecting it to accept a counteroffer from your current employer will make the new employer feel used. Besides being damaging to your reputation, there may also be legal consequences to such a breach.


If there is any interest on your part to stay with your current employer, you should first discuss with them what the internal opportunities are before looking outside the organization. If you choose to look at outside opportunities and accept a new job offer, stick with your commitment and avoid the counteroffer pitfalls.

Article published in CONSTRUCTION EXECUTIVE REPORT – March 6, 2008

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