BEWARE THE COUNTEROFFER

by Matt Thomas

The day is finally here. You’ve spent the last few weeks operating with peak stealth, scheduling interviews during your lunch hour, being careful to use your personal email address to interact with the recruiter, you even scheduled an actual doctor’s appointment the day of your interview so that you didn’t have to take a random sick day. You’ve accepted the offer, signed on the bottom line, now there is one thing left to do. Put in your notice.

I could spill some serious ink about how to (and how not to) put in your notice but let’s just assume you are going the formal route. You write a brief letter announcing your intent to depart, you hand it to your boss in person, then you prepare to discuss your end date and how to “finish strong.” Only the news catches your manager off guard and he’s less than enthusiastic about your new opportunity. You can see the panic wash over him and you start to wonder if you should just break for the exit now. Your manager collects himself and then asks the question you just really weren’t ready for, “is there anything we can do to change your mind?” Get ready for the counteroffer, because it’s coming.

I don’t know why I am always surprised when a company comes back with an insane counteroffer. 30% pay bumps, double the PTO, you name it, we’ve seen it. I get it, losing a key team member is a big deal. It can throw a wrench in the strat plan and immediately put a great deal of stress on the manager. I’m usually tempted to call the manager and ask them why they waited till it was too late to take care of a mission-critical team member? Back to you and your pending counteroffer. Here are a few things to consider:

Remember why you were leaving in the first place

Do you really think that all of the pain points are going to go away with a 20% pay bump? No way. They may become a little more tolerable, for a time, but eventually, you’ll be on the lookout again. Sure they are promising more responsibility and upward mobility but do you really think it’ll happen? No, that’s why you started looking in the first place.

Counteroffers are rarely official

Often a manager will throw out an audacious number just to get the departing team member back to the table. Sometimes all they want is for you to pass on your new opportunity and start the clock over so that they can prepare accordingly. It sounds awful, but it happens all the time.

Your reputation is going to take a hit

Change your mind after signing an offer sheet because your previous employer was willing to throw more money at you? That stench won’t leave you for at least five years. If you’re okay with going back on your word (signed offer letter), and leaving your new team in a bad spot, then sure, stay with your previous employer. Just know that options will dry up next go around.

Our Staffing Consultants prepare our candidates for the counteroffer so that they are ready to decline quickly and confidently. The candidate who takes the verbal counteroffer back to their new manager and asks for more is the worst. Don’t be that guy. I’ve seen these situations go so badly that neither company wants the candidate when it is all said and done. Be careful out there. Go get ‘em.