Prepare for the Counter – It’s Going to Happen!

Why the counteroffer tactic is most often a temporary solution aimed at helping the company, not you.

We always tell our candidates, “The moment you resign, your employer is going to suddenly feel you were worth more than you were yesterday, and they are going to offer you more money to stay.” Nine times out of ten, this is the case, and the key is to prepare yourself. As flattering as the counter may be, it’s important to remember that you were only provided with this proposed salary increase once going through the extremes of finding a new job, and your employer now realizes your worth by another company’s standards.

Is it worth another dollar or two an hour to stay at a place that did not value you as much yesterday as they do today? Wasn’t it more than money that drove you to consider a move? Remember your new offer is a starting point with this new career change and a wealth of opportunity awaits you, whereas the counter dangling in front of you is the stretch your company made this one time just to fill a void, and it may not come again.

If money is your only motivation, ask for the raise before you look for a new job. Pursuing a new position only to increase your income can not only hurt your chances of any future employment with a company but it will also create tension with your current employer, even if they were to offer you the counter. Oftentimes a counteroffer is just a temporary solution and a quick way for an employer to retain what they have versus finding a replacement. Although it may seem generous at the time, this can put strain on your future relationship with the company. More times than not, most people who accept a counteroffer will be looking again in 6 months. Most employers know this and will make sure they are working to find your replacement to prepare themselves for the inevitable.

When you are convinced, it is time to make a move, think about all the reasons why you want to make a change. Jot them down. What is driving you to look elsewhere? Is it better hours, increased responsibility, flexibility, a closer commute, more growth opportunity, a better environment? A counteroffer will not provide you with all those things, but a new opportunity can. When you are ready to make a change, make the job change realistic and do not block yourself from a new opportunity because you have grown comfortable with everything you have.

A career move is a life changing experience and can draw in a wide range of emotions from excitement to panic. It is normal and all part of change. We have heard all the common hesitations once the counteroffer comes through; you start thinking about leaving your work friends and that feels impossible, you start missing the office space you despised, and there is the sense of guilt about leaving behind unfinished work that kicks in. It is overwhelming stepping into the unknown but know that all of these feelings are every bit normal. Change is scary, but being grateful for what you had and excited about what can be is what leads us to our best.

As you engage in your search, remind yourself as much as you can, why you started looking in the first place. Set your eyes on what this new opportunity can offer you and how it fulfills those driving factors. Once you have received the offer and you know it is the opportunity you want, start removing personal items from your desk – family pictures, decorations, etc. It is easier to leave a job – and a desk or office –that does not feel as ‘homey’ as it did yesterday. Remember why you started this journey.

Comfort leads to complacency and opportunity is what drives us to grow.

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