BY KAT BOOGAARD
You’ve received an offer for a different job, and you’ve finally mustered the courage to have that dreaded conversation with your current boss to let him or her know that you’re packing your bags and hitting the road. But, to your surprise, that exchange doesn’t end with a brief handshake and those standard, awkward well wishes. No, instead you find yourself met with a counteroffer.
What now? You weren’t prepared for this, and you’re feeling confused about how to figure out the best way to move forward. Don’t panic yet!
Here’s everything you need to know about receiving a counteroffer from your current employer:
WHAT IS A COUNTEROFFER?
While the situation can be tricky, the actual concept of a counteroffer is actually pretty straightforward. When your existing employer finds out that you’re considering accepting a new job elsewhere, occasionally they’ll counter that offer with a raise (or, certain other perks–like more flexibility, a promotion, etc.) in an effort to keep you on the team.
Why would a company do this? Well, put simply, keeping an existing employee is far more cost-efficient (not to mention easier) than needing to train someone new. So many employers are willing to bump up a salary for an employee who’s considering packing up his desk–especially when it actually ends up still being cheaper in the long run.
Now that you have the basics covered, you’re left with one big question: What should you do when you’re presented with a counteroffer?
Here are a few tips to help you navigate those oftentimes murky waters:
DON’T RULE IT OUT IMMEDIATELY
Your first inclination might be to thank your boss for the offer and carry on with your final two weeks. I get it–you were already mentally out the door, which makes considering staying onboard seem that much more unrealistic.
However, while the company is obviously looking out for their own best interests, this counteroffer is also a compliment to you. Obviously, the company is invested in you and pleased with the work you’ve been doing, so it’s worth at least listening to what they’re bringing to the table. You might be surprised by what they’re willing to do to keep you.
CONSIDER YOUR NEEDS
Needing to weigh two job offers–one for that new role and one from your existing employer–can be tough. When you’re feeling confused, reflect back on what inspired your search for a new job in the first place. Were you seeking a company culture that was a better fit for you? More flexibility? A step up the ladder? A career change altogether?
Remember, while it’s easy to get swept up in the numbers, counteroffers aren’t all about money and perks. Ultimately, you need to keep your focus on your own career values to get some clarity on which role is the best next step for you.
BE HESITANT ABOUT DISCLOSING SALARY
Even though keeping your eye on the big picture is important, most counteroffers still involve a financial aspect–after all, most candidates will seriously consider whichever role is offering them more.
But remember that there’s no rule dictating that you need to disclose the details of your other offer to your boss. In fact, neglecting to do so is what gives you more leverage.
If your existing employer doesn’t know the specifics of what they’re up against, they’re more likely to come back with their very best offer–giving you a more serious option to consider.
Ultimately, only you can decide whether you should stay or go when you’re presented with a counteroffer. However, many experts are quick to warn job seekers that accepting a counteroffer can be complex.
First and foremost, you’ve already demonstrated to your existing employer that you’re on the lookout for greener pastures. The fact that you were strongly considering leaving could deem you as a flight risk. And, as terrifying as it sounds, there’s no guaranteeing that your employer didn’t just counteroffer to buy themselves some time to find your replacement.
Additionally, accepting a counteroffer can potentially burn two bridges simultaneously–one with the employer you’re turning down (who likely won’t consider hiring you again) and one with your existing employer who is now wary of your motives and skeptical of your loyalty.
That’s not to say that accepting a counteroffer is always a bad idea–there are plenty of circumstances where it’s played out exceptionally well, particularly if you make your best effort to always be professional and gracious when turning an employer down.
However, those potential drawbacks do illustrate the importance of analyzing your unique situation, weighing your own priorities, and settling on the best route for you. In the end, there isn’t one right or wrong answer.