Why Counter Offers Are Good (except for headhunters)

Why Counter Offers Are Good (except for headhunters)

Have you been promised a promotion or salary increase?  Have you been told that the fresh challenge you’ve been craving – and worked hard for – is just around the corner?  More importantly, is it now six months or a year since those opportunities were outlined – but they have yet to materialize?

Many employees find themselves in a situation where their company has repeatedly promised to take care of them, however after months of waiting, it can begin to feel like they’re just paying lip service to the idea.

If this is you, it’s time to consider a high risk-strategy that some career-minded individuals are reaping the rewards from.  It’s not for everybody – but worth considering if you are determined to progress your career and want to give the process a kick start.  Do you want to live with the frustration of waiting to see if promises come to fruition – or are you willing to do something about it?

Leverage Can Work

If you’re good at your job and you know – or think – you are valued, there’s one sure-fire way to find out.  Get yourself an offer.  Prepare your resume, apply for opportunities outside your current company and get some leverage. What’s the worst that can happen?  If you end up with a great offer on the table from a competitor to present to your boss, it’s crunch time.  Either they step up and increase your responsibilities or fulfill that promised pay raise – or they don’t.  If they don’t, you’ve got a good opportunity to pursue.  If they do, mission accomplished!  It’s win, win.

More often than not, its medium sized businesses where this strategy works best.  Small companies may not be in a position to boost your role; and large organizations often don’t have as much riding on individual responsibilities, unless you’re already on the management team. Busy – and bottom-line focused – executives will overlook successful individuals for promotion time and time again.  Whether you’re flying under the radar, too good at your current job to move on, or need progression but don’t have anywhere to go,  you need a catalyst for change if you don’t want to stay stuck in a rut.

Nicky Hoffman decided to take this approach last year – and has never looked back.  A sales rep at a successful engineering firm, she had long been promised a senior account manager role.  She knew she could procure another position, had established a huge book of business and was confident that her clients loved her: “One year after the promotion had been broached; I knew I had to speak to my employer yet again, but it had got to the point where it was unprofessional to keep bringing it up.  I felt I had to take control of the situation.”

Nicky soon found out if she really was a valued employee, as she had hoped.   She secured an offer with a competitor, re-approached her company and the very same day she found herself in front of the CEO accepting the role of senior account manager, along with a 45% increase. “They knew that if they lost me, it could have been a big problem.  Some clients would have been unhappy, some may have followed me to the competitor, plus it would have been hard to replace me – or swallow the cost of retraining – in the industry I’m in.”

By proactively seeking some leverage, Nicky helped her company realize they’d dropped the ball.  She didn’t complain, so she was still viewed as a team player; instead she succeeded in strengthening the respect of her peers for making a strategic move.

It’s true, the majority of those electing to use a counter offer find it doesn’t come to fruition. But it’s a guaranteed way to establish your true worth – and that’s as good a reason as any to give it a try.

Are you unsure if your resume is up-to-par to receive a counter offer? Let us help by giving you a free review!

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Comments (6)

  • Curtis Walter Reply

    A word of caution to candidates never intending to leave and only using this tactic to secure a raise or promotion. First, your loyalty to your current employer is gone, nixed, finished! When raise time comes and nothing happens, don’t be surprised, you got your raise at counter-offer time. Second, when a job opens up at the next level in your organization don’t expect to get it. Management knows of your disloyalty and will always remember it. And finally, people talk, even management. If you are treated differently after you threaten to leave, it’s common corporate practice. Threaten to leave your spouse and see how things are in the household afterwards. Most people who use another job offer to get more money destroy their abilities to get increases and career growth with their current employers. And, don’t you think, after everyone’s time they wasted in the process, they deserve it?

    November 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm
  • Matt Reply

    On the surface it looks like a good idea but it’s not. If it takes you to threaten to leave to get the promotion or extra money you were told you were going to have, they don’t value you. It would be best to go to the competitor. That just shows they will continue to hold things back for as long as they can and basically lie to you.

    Not every company is perfect, but if you have to go get another offer from an outside company to get your current company to react, then what else is your company keeping from you?

    Bad strategy, By the way, if you do this, I hope you won’t be looking for another job for a while. Information gets out between employers and they do talk. After over 20 years in employment, they DO talk. Your character now comes into question and if you go apply to another job within a commutable distance, they will know about you.

    If your “hell bent” on trying something like this, just tell your employer your looking. Same results and your name won’t be out there.

    November 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm
  • CareerGoods Reply

    I often agree with your advice, but I’m flabbergasted at this one. I agree that finding leverage is important, but not this kind of leverage. Accepting a counter offer is one of the worst things you can do… and not just for headhunters.

    More often than not, a company makes a verbal offer, which is accepted, before drafting the written offer. You can essentially ruin your own reputation by declining an offer you’ve already accepted. Not to mention that you’ve wasted the other company’s time knowing all along that you were using it for leverage.

    Companies and people don’t forget things. People talk to each other in an industry and the next time you’re really ready to make that move, this story follows you. We are not as anonymous as we think.

    I can go on and on about why accepting counter offers is a bad idea, but here’s one reason – it’s focused on short-term gain.

    July 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm
    • Amos Tayts Reply

      So what kind of leverage would you recommend?

      July 10, 2012 at 2:55 am
      • rick Reply

        this is a very shallow piece and a high risk strategy that will not work (long term – as indicated by CareerGoods)

        September 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm
        • rick Reply

          I meant to add will not work long term for most people – if one uses they better be prepared for the reason they are unhappy to not change

          September 24, 2014 at 12:34 pm

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