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Are Counter Offers a Good Thing?

The road to finding a new career opportunity is often riddled with twists and turns. It is not unusual to enter into conversations with an employer for a new job, only to find out they “moved in a different direction” and left you without substantive feedback on what your candidacy was lacking. 

Having spent time in corporate hiring, as a recruiter and as a job seeker, I can understand all the ups and downs of the process and empathize with the challenges faced. 

The reality is that employment recruiters and executive recruiters will speak with a number of candidates to find the best slate of applicants to present to a hiring manager. And, hiring managers will want to speak with a number of people before committing to a hire. As the job seeker, you should also be wanting to speak with different people (recruiters and/or hiring managers) before committing to your decision to accept a new role. 

But, what happens when either the job offer you expected is different than what you wanted or your current employer makes a counteroffer to keep you on board? Negotiation is an option that may come into play, and it is best to understand the pros and cons of the process before beginning. 

Negotiations – Options to Consider

Let’s first look at when you receive an employment offer that is different from your expectations. Before negotiating, it is important to understand the why behind the offer details. For example, you may currently be a manager level at a larger firm and taking a director level position at a smaller one. You know at your current company that the increase from manager to director is X-dollars and, as such, you expect a similar increase in your pay to join the new firm. In this case, you need to consider company size, which often inside the same industry correlates to annual revenue.  As such, the new company may simply not be able to pay the same as your current employer.

Before you get fixated on the base salary consider the other perks of the new role. This may include personal development, more exposure to senior leadership, or quicker opportunity for growth. When deciding to accept or decline the job offer and how to counter it, consider the whole picture and what your long-term goals include. It is always ok to negotiate for things which are important to you.  Doing your research and working closely with your recruiter will allow you to keep those conversations aligned with what is both reasonable and likely.

Now let’s consider your current employer.  They may say that they will match the offer you received in order to keep you on board. While it might feel flattering to have your current employer “fight for you,” you should ask yourself a few questions.

• First, if you are worth the pay increase, why was it not discussed with you prior to your resignation?

• Next, how will this impact your current employer’s level of trust in you and your commitment to the firm?

• Finally, what truly are the long-term prospects of where you are compared to where you are going? If you are simply staying for money, yet career advancement is important to you, then you may be making a short-sighted decision at the risk of your long-term wants and needs.

So, what is the real takeaway from this article? First, that you should go into any interview process with a clear sense of what you are looking for as your next career development step. Second, if you enjoy your current workplace, consider having an honest conversation with your manager about your career plans and goals and discover if they are possible to achieve inside your current organization. Finally, if you do choose to leave and explore a new opportunity, go in fully committed and be ready to make an impact. The grass is rarely greener on the other side if you leave for the wrong reasons.


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