You've just accepted a great offer from an exciting company providing you with the career growth you've been looking for. After a long and possibly grueling interview and negotiation process, the final step is for you to give your resignation to your current employer. You are confident, you are excited and you know this is the right career move for you. You give notice, receive a surprise counteroffer from your employer and suddenly, you are asking yourself, "Should I stay or should I go?" While flattering, counteroffers are hazardous to your career. Current surveys show that only 6% of professionals, who accepted a counteroffer, were employed by that company 12 months later. Why? Paying you to stay in your current job greatly benefits your employer more than you-even when a large increase in salary is involved. Consider the following.
How a Counteroffer Benefits Your Employer
1. Your employer is buying time. Your resignation is most likely a surprise and he/she needs time to think it through. Projects need to be completed. Perhaps the department is shorthanded already and cannot afford to be a resource down. Maybe vacations are coming up and they need you to cover. Better to have you on board while they consider their options, which may include replacing you confidentially when they are better prepared.
2. Your raise is less expensive than the cost of replacing you. While a $5 or $10,000 raise may sound like a lot of money, it pales in comparison to the high cost of leaving an important position unfilled, hiring a contractor and rehiring for your position. Any of these options can easily cost a company triple this amount.
3. Keeping you makes management look good. A major responsibility of any Manager is to hire, train and retain employees. Their reviews and raises are often a reflection of a Manager's ability to retain good employees and reduce turnover within an organization. Your exit may also inspire other unhappy team members to consider their options. It is in their best interest to convince you to stay, possibly making promises for an increase in responsibility and challenge that may never come to fruition.
How Accepting a Counteroffer Damages Your Career
1. You may be viewed as a Blackmailer. You were worth X amount yesterday, and X+Y today? What did you do to earn that increase in salary? How does your Manager really feel about being put into a position of having to give you more money? What about your coworkers? Where did the money come from? At some point, resentment sets in and it can present itself as an increased workload, greater pressure to produce or even a reduced raise at review time.
2. Your loyalty to the corporation may always be in question. Yes, you were valuable enough at the time of your resignation to make concessions to keep you. As time goes on, however, the reality of the situation will sink in to your superiors. Unbeknownst to your employer, you were unfulfilled and interviewing with competitors. How can they count on you for the future? When an opportunity for a critical project or promotion arises, it will likely go to someone who's demonstrated their loyalty and commitment to the company.
3. Things don't change. For a time, the increase in salary may be enough to make you enjoy your job again. Eventually, the negative factors (the long drive, the hours, the boredom, the lack of technical challenge, etc) that originally drove you to consider changing jobs will surface and you will likely regret your decision. Most people change jobs for reasons other than money.
4. You've lost out on a great career opportunity. You accepted a job offer-most likely after a lengthy investment of time and energy during the interview process. After careful consideration of the position, the team, challenge and compensation plan, you were excited about joining the new company enough to accept their offer and give notice. Once the prospective company has been burned by the sting of a counteroffer, they rarely if ever will look at that candidate again. The opportunity that once looked so promising, is gone.
The best course of action is to talk openly and honestly with your employer about your concerns and career aspirations before you decide to start looking. In fact, do it immediately. Good career management involves always knowing where you stand in your position and organization. Perhaps there is a raise, new project or new technology challenge just ahead or even waiting for you in your current position. If it only comes AFTER you give notice, then you have cause for concern.
Once you make a decision to move on to a better career opportunity, stick with it. Yes, giving notice is unnerving and leaving your comfort zone for the unknown can be frightening. Stay strong. Don't be guilted or bribed into staying in a position you've long outgrown. Your future depends on it!