It’s been a bit since my last reader question Monday post. But, hopefully you can forgive me. The last two Mondays were Christmas and New Years Day, so I was a bit distracted. Let’s get back to business today, though, with a reader question about the counter offer.
Buckle up, because this is a pretty infuriating tale.
I have a coworker who had an opportunity to go to a new company/job where he would have received a major promotion and raise. When he told his current boss about the opportunity, his boss countered by offering him an equally major promotion and raise. So he decided to turn down the other offer and stay at his current job.
However, once he turned down the other offer and told his boss he would accept the counter offer, his boss came back and said that for “logistical reasons” he couldn’t do a major promotion and raise right now. His boss offered him a small raise and token promotion for staying and said that they would “re-evaluate the situation in 6 months”. Have you seen this type of bait-and-switch tactic before?
Okay, I can actually answer the question pretty simply. While I’ve seen a lot of things in my travels, I’ve never actually directly seen this.
But I think the real question here is less whether I’ve seen it or not and more about my take on it. So let’s take a look at that.
The Employment Counter Offer
First of all, let me set the stage a little just so we’re crystal clear on what’s going on. This bit of back and forth between the person in question and his employer centers around the idea of a counter offer.
You go out and do some interviewing while gainfully employed. One of these interviews bears fruit, and you find yourself with an offer in hand. With that offer, you resign from your current post. But your boss counters with, well, a counter offer. “Tell you what — we don’t want to lose you, so we’ll match their offer to keep you here.”
Here be dragons, though.
I’ve offered my opinion on counter offers before, but I’ll recap here briefly. You shouldn’t accept counter offers. If you work with a recruiter, a recruiter will tell you this emphatically and cite tons of reasons. This is because every time a developer accepts a counter offer, a recruiter loses his wings. Or, wait, I mean his commission.
But it actually is a pretty bad idea for you, recruiters notwithstanding. The counter offer comes from you having temporary leverage. It’s generally the employer’s least bad short term option, but it doesn’t age well because you’re now in a role and earning an amount of money they don’t really think you deserve. It’s probably the last promotion you’ll ever earn there.
So the first issue I have here is actually with the apparently aggrieved party. Accept counter offers at your own peril.