Counter Offers and Career Suicide: Part 1

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It’s like a Ninja that lurks in distant shadows just waiting to pounce on unsuspecting prey. It’s relentless and indiscriminate with irreparable effects. In the recruiting world, it’s a “dirty word,” almost blasphemous, though it's unavoidable. It’s a dreaded enemy: Counter Offers.

Here’s the scenario:

A long-time employee is dissatisfied with his current situation. He's hit a glass ceiling, his growth is stagnant, and he and his boss often butt heads. He identifies a new position, interviews, receives an offer, and is thrilled! The offer is an attractive bump from his current salary and he and his new boss really hit it off. He happily accepts the offer and is starting orientation next month. The only thing left to do is tender his resignation notice. But the Ninja is watching. Waiting.

With a typed resignation letter, the employee strides into his boss’ office with the confidence of a new man facing a fresh start. The Ninja glimmers in the back corner, still hidden, but poised to strike. After the employee breaks his news, the boss’ words trigger the countdown for the attack: “You’re too valuable to us. You’ve been with us for a long time and we have history. What can we do to keep you?” The Ninja prepares his blade.

Therein lies the employee's dilemma. On one hand, he’s really excited about the new position, the new boss, a nice salary, and a fresh start. On the other, he feels guilty about leaving the place that has been such a big part of his career. Besides, now that they realize how important he really is, this is his chance to really stick it to ‘em and get an even bigger offer, right? Wrong.

Right then, the Ninja springs forth, launching his blade towards the unsuspecting man. The Ninja then slips back into the shadows. The man feels like he’s dodged a fatal attack and feels reinvigorated for his newfound life; he’s won this battle. However, what the man fails to realize is that the Ninja has barely nicked a major artery. It’s not a noticeable wound at all, but the man will slowly bleed out, little by little, until he lays lifeless in his office cubicle.

While the man may have used an existing offer from another company as a vehicle to leverage an even bigger offer from his current employer, he’ll soon realize that nothing has changed. The reasons for looking for a different job in the first place still exist. Aside from a larger paycheck, the man is still in the same position he was an hour ago, with far worse career implications.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of "Counter Offers and Career Suicide" - I’ll outline the implications.


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