I’ve had a couple of people call me recently to chat about this subject so its prompted me to put fingers to keyboard as I’ve always had a strong opinion based on experience with prior candidates. I’ve also seen a few cases where I’d suggest the person was really just using the new offer to get their current employer to up their salary. I get that this can look and sound attractive, but there are far better ways of doing things that won’t affect your integrity and standing, namely having a frank and open discussion with your employer about your unhappiness and their views of your future in the business.
However, if your employers answer to your new job offer is a promotion, then it’s worth considering! But whilst using another job offer as a bargaining chip may be tempting, all too often, it ends badly. If you just want a raise, then negotiate it on your own merits or prepare to move on.
1. Employers often make counter offers based on their immediate requirements instead of your long term needs. Put it this way, people can be indispensable for a time, but neverforever. If you have some key IP for a business, hold some key account relationships or are half way through a major tender they will likely pay a bit more to keep you on. But after the initial relief passes, you may find your relationship with your employer and your standing with the company has fundamentally changed. You're now the person who was looking toleave. You're no longer trusted with sensitive information or part of the inner circle, and you might be at the top of the list if your company needs to create redundancies in the future.
2. Worse case scenario, your company might just want time to search for a replacement, figuring that it's only a matter of time until you start looking around again. You might turndown your other offer and accept your employer's counter offer only to find yourself pushed out soon afterwards. It's my experience that 3 in 4 candidates who accept a counter offer are back in the market within 12 months.
3. There's a reason you started job-searching in the first place. While more money is always a motivator, if you’re honest with yourself about it there will be other reasons you decided to hit the market: personality fit, dislike of your boss, boredom with the work, lack of recognition, service or product issues, whatever it might have been. Those factors aren't going to change, and will likely start bothering you again as soon as the glow from your raise wears off.
4. Even if you get more money out of your company now, think about what it took to get it.You needed to have one foot out the door to get paid the wage you wanted, and there's no reason to think that future salary increases will be any easier. The next time you want a raise, you might even be refused altogether on the grounds that "we just gave you that big increase when you were thinking about leaving."
5. You may be told to take the other offer, even if you don't really want it and then you'll have to follow through. Using another offer as a bluff is just so dodgy!
6. Good luck getting that new employer to ever consider you again. If you go all the way through their hiring process only to accept a counter offer from your current employer, then the former is going to be wary of considering you in the future. If it's a company you'd like to work with, you might be shutting a door you'd rather keep open. Frankly, I know that recruiters take a pretty dim view of this as well.
Now, are there times where accepting a counter offer makes sense and works out? Sure, there are always exceptions. But it's a bad idea frequently enough that you should be very, very cautious before going down this road. As I mentioned earlier, the right way to play it is to have a frank discussion with your employer about a salary increase, typically based on what you are doing in the business that falls over and above your position description, targets or KPI’s, before you go job hunting.
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