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Coping with a Job Counteroffer

By Kaivan Mangouri
Arizona Republic Newspaper Business Section
April 10, 2011

It's time to change jobs. Or so you thought. You've scanned the job market and are fortunate enough to receive a job offer while still employed.

But as you're ready to start the next phase of your career, it happens: Your current employer makes a counteroffer. What to do?

Counteroffers aren't new. But career experts say they're becoming even more commonplace post-recession, as understaffed employers scramble to hold on to the most precious of commodities - their most-productive workers.

- What's being addressed?

Make sure the counteroffer is an honest attempt by your employer to alleviate the issues that led to your decision to jump ship, says Sherri Thomas, president of Career Coaching 360, LLC in Chandler.

Equally important is ensuring that the same issues, such as a negative corporate culture, don't exist at your next place of employment, she adds. "You don't want to accept the job offer and leave from one sinking ship to another," Thomas says.

- Be specific.

If compensation is the key issue, then set a minimum pay number. Are you feeling underappreciated or overworked?

Then suggest projects you can take on to be challenged and recognized, or duties that should be taken from you to alleviate your load, experts suggest. Now is not the time to be vague if you plan to stay and want your job circumstances to improve.

- Be smart.

Know that your employer sees you as a valuable asset and that the ball is in your court, but be realistic about what the company can or can't offer you, says Kathy Sweeney, president of the Write Resume in Phoenix.

She suggests examining counteroffers the company made to other employees to measure the worth of your offer. If the counteroffer is too far away from what you desire, then that likely shows your employer isn't willing to budge and it's likely not worth considering, she adds.

- Do your research.

Speak to former employees that left to see if they received a counteroffer and why they decided to leave anyway.

Online research, such as visiting, which provides job salaries, ratings and employee feedback on companies, can also prove helpful when deliberating on an offer.

- Money isn't everything.

Sweeney reminds clients that while a healthy bump in salary is often difficult to refuse, it doesn't amount to much if you're being overworked. So those considering a counteroffer should be mindful of the fact that more money doesn't necessarily enhance your "quality of life."

- Be real.

Don't seek a job offer just to use it as leverage at your current job. Instead of eliciting a counteroffer, you could be shown the door and be forced to take a position you didn't really want to begin with.

"You need to be proactive and honest in communicating your demands," Sweeney says.

- Be realistic.

Know that counteroffers best address issues of compensation, because it's easier for a company to increase a person's salary or benefits than, say, change the company's culture, Sweeney says.

So be realistic about what they're promising and, should you decide to stay, know that your employer could perceive your job search as a form of disloyalty in the future, she adds.


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