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The Counteroffer Conundrum


April 2009 (SmartPros) What to do if you are offered more money to stay at your current company.



Feeling slightly dissatisfied with your job and company, you launch a casual job search to test the employment market waters. To your surprise given the current economy, the next thing you know you’ve interviewed for an excellent accounting position and you’re offered the job. But when you walk into your manager’s office to submit your resignation letter, you’re shocked to find that your notoriously stingy company has decided to give you more money if you’ll stay.

What to do?

The best answer is to think long and hard before saying yes. While a counteroffer might seem attractive on the surface, accepting it is a risky move. Here are two big reasons:

Your manager may not have your best interests at heart. For your boss, your departure presents immediate problems. How will key departmental deadlines be met without a full staff? In addition, hiring and training a new employee is time-consuming and costly. Even worse, your supervisor may be constrained by a hiring freeze. Considering these factors, extending a counteroffer to you becomes a sound alternative for your company.

The sudden generosity, however, doesn’t change the fact that you’ve felt underappreciated and overworked at times. Simply put, your employer may be more concerned with its short-term needs than your long-term career satisfaction.

Your loyalty could be questioned. Even if your manager makes a compelling pitch for you to remain on board, he or she may secretly question your loyalty. And in today’s uncertain economic environment, you don’t want to be viewed as someone who’s merely biding your time. If your employer has to make cuts down the road, you might be a prime target because you’ve already shown an interest in departing.

Your relationship with colleagues can become strained, too. Suspecting that you stayed only because you received a salary boost, envious coworkers may feel like they’re being penalized for not threatening to leave. Fair or not, being resented can undercut your effectiveness on the job.

In conclusion, before accepting a counteroffer, remember that you had reasons for seeking a new opportunity — and it probably wasn’t all about money. Were you also looking for greater advancement opportunities? A more flexible schedule? An improved work environment? If the counteroffer doesn’t address each and every concern, you’ll likely go back to being discontented after the initial joy of receiving more pay inevitably wears off.

For more advice on management and career issues, listen to The Management Minute, Robert Half’s podcast series at www.rhi.com/podcast.

Accountemps is the world’s first and largest temporary staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 360 offices nationwide and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.

2009 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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