Does it ever make sense to negotiate a counter offer from your current employer?

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Does it ever make sense to negotiate a counter offer from your current employer?

Conventional wisdom says that using an offer from a new job to negotiate a counter offer with your current employee is a dangerous task. Most advice I see on the topic suggests that you avoid this technique all together. I disagree. Here’s my thinking.

Of course,  I agree that engaging in this process can go very badly. It’s certainly never a good idea to offer an ‘I’m going to leave unless you match or beat’ ultimatum. But I believe that it’s almost always a fine a reasonable strategy to engage in an open conversation with your current employer about your interest in the new opportunity and use this as a starting point to talk about what mid and long term career options look like with your current employer. Here are some tips to consider if you choose this path.

·         Don’t pull a gun in a fight unless you are prepared to use it. The same advice applies here. Be cautious saying ‘Acme Widgets will pay me 20% more’ unless you are very comfortable working at Acme if that’s what happens.

·         Be honest. Be respectful.

·         Make sure you present the needs and interest in a framework that ‘isn’t just about the money’.

·         Be prepared to demonstrate a case that ‘fair market’ for your skills is in fact higher than you are currently making.

What happens if you accept a counter offer and stay?

Conventional wisdom suggests that you might be a marked man (or woman) seen by management as someone who will jump ship the next time a better offer comes along. Hmm. Don’t you think your boss is sometimes in the same boat? Frankly, I think this concept is over plaid. Perhaps its mis0information planted as part of a grand conspiracy by HR professionals to keep the unwashed masses working at below market rates. J Frankly, I think few companies really think ‘yep, Billy will be the first to go since he had the nerve to show initiative and good communication skills in negotiating a new package and talking about his long term opportunities with the company.

On the other hand, I could be wrong and you could be fired 6 months later so this advice is easy for me to give. J But, I’ve seen too many situations where a person feels like “I’ve got no options” other than take the new job in silence or stay stuck for below market rates that I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this topic. Sometimes there are soft spots stuck in the middle of the proverbial rock and hard place.

What do you think?

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