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Navigating Counteroffers: A Comprehensive Guide to Workplace Negotiations

Published: Feb 13, 2024

 Career Readiness       Job Search       
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If you’re currently employed but looking for better pay, more opportunities to advance your career, or perhaps a hybrid working schedule, you might find yourself seeking other avenues of employment. Once a potential employer decides they want to hire you, they’ll make an offer. In certain cases, this might lead to an interesting scenario with your current employer in which they’ll extend a counteroffer—here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Counteroffer?

A counteroffer may occur when an employee expresses interest in working for another company, whether it’s because an employee has put in their two weeks, or the employer caught wind of an employee’s intentions to leave the company through some other means. An employer may also counteroffer if they discover that other companies are actively seeking to poach a high-value employee.

Most typically, a counteroffer consists of higher pay or better employee benefits; however, a counteroffer may also include reduced or increased hours, a hybrid schedule, additional PTO, improved equipment, or even a promotion. In most cases, an employer will extend a counteroffer to an employee who is particularly valuable or otherwise difficult to replace. That being said, a counteroffer may also be used as a tactic to avoid a lengthy hiring process and the training that comes along with replacing an employee.

Can You Force a Counteroffer?

It may be possible to goad your employer into extending a counteroffer, but it’s important to remember that this is quite risky and is only recommended if you’ve already received an offer from another employer. If you march into your boss’ office demanding more money or additional PTO in exchange for your continued service to the company, it might not work out too well if your boss thinks you’re easily replaceable.

In the best-case scenario, you’re a model employee with finely-honed skills and vast knowledge of your role and the company at large, and you’ve consistently demonstrated leadership qualities and next-level problem-solving abilities. Once you’ve received an offer from a potential employer, you may schedule a meeting with your current boss so you can express your intentions to leave and the reasons why you’ve come to this decision.

Your employer will most likely take some time to decide whether they want to counter, and what they intend to offer you. If you haven’t already, now would be the time to research current average salary ranges and benefits packages for your role. Along with this, if you’ve received an offer from a potential employer, do your best to buy yourself some time while you wait. For more information on how to deal with offers from potential employers, check out our previous blog.

Dealing with a Counteroffer

If you receive a counteroffer from your employer, resist the temptation to accept it right away. First, take the time to recall the reasons why you’re seeking other avenues of employment to begin with. Are you looking for a higher salary? Better employee perks and benefits? Would you like to work at a company that promotes from within? Are you trying to escape a toxic workplace environment? Asking these types of questions will help you to determine whether you want to consider the offer in the first place.

When dealing with a counteroffer, there are a few possible outcomes. The first is that you accept your current employer’s counteroffer, which will then require you to respectfully decline any other offers you have received from alternative employers. To help you get started, here is an example of an email in which you decline an offer from a potential employer:

Dear [Name of Contact],

I hope all is well. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to [Company Name] for offering the [Job Title] position. After careful consideration, I have decided to pursue a different career path that more closely aligns with my long-term goals and aspirations. Please understand that this was not an easy decision.

I appreciate the time and effort invested throughout the interview process and I am genuinely thankful for the offer. I hope to cross paths again in the future and I wish [Company Name] continued success.

Thank you again for this opportunity. I sincerely hope for your understanding.

Best,

[Your Name]

[Contact Information]

The next scenario would be declining your current employer’s offer, which should be handled respectfully and professionally. In this situation, politely decline the offer and further express your intentions to leave. If you haven’t already, put in your two weeks and make preparations to start your new job. It’s important that you show gratitude to your current employer even if you decide to decline their offer, since you never know where you’ll end up down the road.

You may also decide to negotiate your current employer’s counteroffer. This can be done by leveraging any offers you have received from potential employers. For example, you might have an offer from a potential employer that includes a salary that is above the industry average, while your current employer’s counteroffer is just below the industry average. Here, you could explain that your primary reason for leaving is due to an increased cost of living, and that you’re looking for a higher salary.

Of course, you can also use other aspects of an offer to negotiate your current employer’s counteroffer. If you’re looking to work from home at least part of the time and a potential employer is offering you a hybrid role, you may use this as a bargaining chip. The bottom line is, what you decide to use as leverage will depend on what you’re trying to gain from your current employer.

Regardless of what you decide to do, maintain a high level of respect and professionalism when dealing with a counteroffer. You never know when new opportunities will present themselves, so you want to do your best to avoid burning any bridges in your career. It’s worth mentioning that negotiation is a skill just like any other, and it requires time and experience to develop. With the right amount of research and intuition, you should be able to make the right decision if you’re ever faced with a counteroffer.

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