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IT Jobs: 3 Reasons To Reject A Counteroffer

Accepting a counteroffer may be tempting, but it can pose big problems later. Here's why you should think twice before playing the game.

You've been offered a job at another company. You give your boss your resignation and he throws you a curveball: a counteroffer. Do you stay or do you go?

While counteroffers have the potential to pad your paycheck, there is more you need to consider before making your decision, said David Morgan, president of the IT division at recruiting company Addison Group. "At this point, your boss is going to say whatever he can to keep you. It may sound like a good position to be in, but it's not," he said in an interview.

Here are three reasons why you should think twice about accepting a counteroffer.

[Don't make these resume mistakes: IT Resume Revamp: Spotlight On IT Consultants.]

counteroffer

1. Money won't fix your problem.
Your company's counteroffer may be tempting -- more money, more vacation -- but you need to remember why you started looking for other opportunities in the first place.

"There are two elements here: the push and the pull," Morgan said. "What's pushing you away from your employer, and what's pulling you to a new opportunity? If you were recruited, what is the pull and is it better than the push? Ideally, the pull is bigger than the push, and that's what you need to remember going into the conversation."

A bump in salary may act as a bandage for some of the problems that prompted you to start looking, but it probably won't fix your situation, added Matt Leighton, director of recruitment at IT staffing agency Mondo. "Research shows that employees who accept a counteroffer usually leave that company six to eight months later," he said. "The money may be a temporary fix, but it won't solve your problems."

2. You will be labeled.
If you accept a counteroffer, your company will make a note of it in your file, which could pose problems later, Leighton said. "Even if you accept the counteroffer, they'll put a mark on your file to say what happened. It can be a bit of a black eye," he said.

This could be problematic down the road because your company considers you a flight risk, Morgan said. "If you accept the counteroffer, you may be working there and getting the money you wanted, but they're going to be very nervous about you in the future," he said. You could rise to the top of the list if they need to make cuts -- or be passed over for a promotion -- because they think it's only a matter of time before you consider leaving again.

3. Your reputation follows you.
You need to remember that your reputation is tied to your actions, Morgan said. Consider what may happen if you accept a counteroffer and years later find yourself interviewing for a position at the company -- or with the manager -- whose interview process you went through and job offer you ultimately turned down. "Good luck getting that job. That's a dangerous position to put yourself in," Morgan said.

Have you made a mistake in accepting a counteroffer, or did it work out for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Senior editor Kristin Burnham covers social media, social business, and IT leadership and careers for InformationWeek.com. Contact her at Kristin.Burnham@ubm.com or follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.

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Dugan Savoye
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Dugan Savoye,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/23/2014 | 3:25:17 PM
Counter offers DO NOT work
I have been in talent acquisition for 20 yrs. I have seen many candidates foolishly take counter offers - only to be fired within 6 months to a year. Recently, a company offered a huge counter offer to a candidate of mine, who smartly declined and moved on to a great new job. The Hiring Mgr later told me he was gald the candidate didn't take the offer because he would have let him go within 6 months - as soon as he found a replacement. Either get your company to give you what you want BEFORE you get a new job offer - OR  - take the new job and never look back!
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/23/2014 | 8:30:16 PM
Re: Counter offers DO NOT work
In your opinion, are there any instances in which an employee should ask for or consider a counter offer?
FeliciaM354
IW Pick
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FeliciaM354,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/23/2014 | 10:33:00 PM
Re: Counter offers DO NOT work
Short answer: No.  Money is very rarely the only reason people look for other opportunities, so it can't solve all the problems with a current employer.  The damage to your loyalty with your current employer and to your professionalism with the new employer will never be worth the money.  That money does not validate your worth, it buys your current employer time.  As soon as they can find a replacement willing to accept your old salary (or a way to delegate your workload to others), you will be let go for "budgetary reasons". 
SaneIT
IW Pick
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
1/24/2014 | 8:45:01 AM
Re: Counter offers DO NOT work
I have to agree, if they are willing to pay you when you are ready to walk why did they not respect you enough to pay you before you had another position lined up?  Some of it is comfort, they get used to having you around and don't consider the cost but the other is that if you don't speak up when you have issues your management doesn't know that anything needs to change.  You need to do a little squeaky wheel action every now and then.  Also I'm of the opinion that money isn't everything.  I work for less than I could make at other companies because I have a level of flexibility and freedoms that I wouldn't have at many other companies.    I do feel that I'm worth much more than my salary shows but I'm happy with the work I do and the environment I work in. To me those are really important and if they changed no amount of money would keep me in place.
rradina
IW Pick
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
1/24/2014 | 9:50:23 AM
Bad Resignation Experience
During an early job in my career I was promoted several times with no immediate pay increase.  Each time I was told my reward would be given during annual performance reviews.  Later I discovered that meant I would be given a bit more than average for my exceptional performance.  That's all they could do because corporate HR had guidelines and it was impossible to give more than the maximum raise.  Only a few years out of college, I had no corporate political experience and I accepted that explanation because I thought this was the way things must be done.

Eventually I was promoted to project lead and I began interviewing a few growth candidates for my team.  Since I wasn't a "resource manager", I assessed skills, character and team fit but not salary.  One day the director scheduled a quick meeting with me.  I was told that one of the candidates I selected will be hired and that they will be making $5K more than me.  I was asked if this was a problem.  Of course I said no, as if any other answer would have been comfortable.  Again I was told that my rewards would come during my annual performance review.  I was also informed that when I was originally hired, I should have asked for more money because I was at the low end of the pay scale -- even before the promotions.

Lucky for me this was a time of incredible growth in IT.  The Y2K FUD and subsequent bubble were on the distant horizon and the economy was beginning to roar after the difficulties of the mid/late 80s.  A career in IT was hot and getting hotter.  A couple folks left the company and soon the flood gates opened as those folks "outed" talented members of the staff.  After several recruiter calls and subsequent interviews, I accepted an offer for 50% more salary.

I was called into the director's office and asked why.  I said I enjoyed working with the team here, was thankful for the experience I gained but at this point in my career, the new opportunity was something I felt was the right thing to do.   That's when things went from uncomfortable to downright hostile.  I was demanded to tell where I was going, what I would be doing and my compensation.  Again I repeated that I was thankful for this opportunity and preferred not to discuss the new opportunity and that my decision was final.  Then I was told that "I was one of those people".  (Whatever that meant.)  I was accused of making a big mistake and words were said that implied I was chasing money.  I was also told that things can be done to retain me.  At this point I was very uncomfortable and simply refused to discuss the matter further.

Since then, I've resigned from other companies and have never experienced anything like this.  I was offered the opportunity to air my thoughts in a professional exit interview and all respected my desire to not discuss counter offers.  In my opinion when a new opportunity is accepted, that's it!  You've given your word and if you back out, anyone who knows what you've done will never trust you again. (i.e. old company, new company, recruiter, etc.)

To this day I still question whether or not I made the right decision at that early job.  Should I have discussed where I was going, what I was going to be doing and how much more money I was going to make?  Should I have let them know my promotions were disappointing because I received chintzy "above average" raises and that I was bothered when some folks made significantly more than me even though having lesser positions?  If I had, what good would have come of it?
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
1/24/2014 | 10:11:41 AM
A better response
I think the better response from a supervisor is more along the lines of, "We will really miss you, but we wish you the best of luck!"

End on a high note (whether you feel it or not)
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/24/2014 | 10:13:05 AM
Re: Bad Resignation Experience
Exactly - you gave your word to the company whose offer you accepted. It's ironic that just as social media and more job-hopping has made it easier for potential employers to figure out how some's reputation is perceived, people seem to be thinking less about ethics and character.

In most fields, it's a small world and getting smaller. People talk, and reputation follows.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
1/24/2014 | 12:24:47 PM
Re: Counter offers DO NOT work
I don't completely agree with the squeaky wheel approach.  If a resource's performance reviews are above average or exceptional and their salary isn't above average, do words need to be exchanged?  Leadership has a responsibility to make sure their compensation PACKAGE is commensurate with performance.

Although HR rules can sometimes be at odds with quickly rectifying inequities, there are non-salary options that help retain talent.  For instance, dust off that training budget and discuss a goal during their performance review that involves a winter training class in Florida.  Engage them in "next level" opportunities to help them gain recognition from key organizational leaders.  Take them to lunch two or three times a year.
Jack1957
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Jack1957,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/24/2014 | 12:32:37 PM
Counter Offers
I took a counter offer in 1987 and then left the company 5 months later anyway. I was laid off from the new job and my old job had a position I was very qualified for but would not consider me for because of the past history.
cconnelly924
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cconnelly924,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/24/2014 | 2:40:17 PM
Re: Counter offers DO NOT work
All must be true:

If your immediate supervisor gives you a job offer for their position in writing.

Your immediate supervisor is not getting a promotion and will not remain your immediate supervisor.

You will be appropriately compensated in salary, benefits, and perqs.

You can enjoy continued comradarie at your current position among current and future peers.

You really don't need to go to the new place for relocation reasons, health, or opportunities. 

 
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Research: 2014 US IT Salary Survey
Research: 2014 US IT Salary Survey
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