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Evaluating Offers / Counteroffers

Evaluating an Offer

Throughout your job search, you’ll be gathering information and making comparisons between different organizations. You’ll want to consider many factors beyond the job and the salary. For example:

  • Will you be comfortable in the work environment?
  • What development opportunities will be available to you?
  • Are the organization’s values consistent with yours?
  • Will this job meet both your immediate and long-term goals?

Use this questionnaire as a guide as you gather information from potential employers.

Issues to Consider Important to Understand Ask Yourself
Organization Performance: The level of employment stability you can reasonably expect given the organization’s market strength and the values of its management.
  • How does this organization compare to others in the industry?
  • What is the future outlook for the industry?
  • How critical is this job to the organization’s core business?
  • What are the organization’s greatest competitive challenges?
  • Has the organization gone through recent changes, or is a future change likely?
Organization Values: The values that are important to the organization and how it conducts its business affairs.
  • How committed is the organization to workforce diversity?
  • How prominent is the organization’s commitment to its values and code of professional conduct?
  • How does the organization contribute to the community?
  • Is the organization known for promoting from within?
Nature of the Work: The substance and purpose of the job in the organization – this includes the value of your contribution, the level of personal accountability, assignment variability, and challenge.
  • What will be the primary responsibilities of the job?
  • How well does this position fit your career interests?
  • How well will this job meet your need to be challenged?
  • How much variety will the job involve?
Work Environment: The atmosphere of the work environment, the quality of the facility, and surrounding area.
  • How comfortable will you be working in an organization of this size?
  • What is the dress code?
Professional Development Opportunities: The resources available to broaden your knowledge and prepare you for more variable assignments – these may include in-house and external training, on-the-job coaching, tuition reimbursement, profession certification programs, and job rotation.
  • What types of forma and on-the-job training will you receive?
  • How much coaching and mentoring can you expect?
  • What career growth opportunities are available?
  • What types of training are available to prepare you for future opportunities?
  • What level of tuition reimbursement is provided?
  • How well are career paths document?
  • How effective is the performance management program?
Work-Life Balance: The degree to which the organization’s values, programs, and practices accommodate your personal needs – these may include flexible work scheduling, work-at-home arrangements, and child care assistance.
  • How many hours do people typically work?
  • How much travel does the job require?
  • How convenient is the location?
  • How much flexibility will you have in your work schedule?
  • How committed is the organization to providing technology support for employees who work at home or travel?
  • What dependent care assistance does the organization offer?
Base Pay: The regular stream of income you will receive, consistent with the value of the job in the marketplace and responsibilities in the organization.
  • What is the near-term pay potential beyond the starting salary?
  • How often will pay be reviewed?
  • How much will individual development and performance influence your salary growth?
Variable Pay: The additional cash compensation you may receive for your individual contribution to the organization’s performance- this may include individual bonuses, sales commissions, profit sharing, and stock options.
  • What types of variable pay programs does the organization offer (bonuses/ profit sharing)?
  • What is the variable pay expectation for this job?
  • How have recent variable pay awards compared to targeted payout levels?
Benefits: The level of protection against loss of income due to illness, death, or your need for time off.
  • How soon does coverage begin?
  • How much will you pay for benefits?
  • How much time off will you have (vacation, holidays, sick time)?
  • What types of retirement programs does the organization offer (pension, savings, other)?
  • How does the organization support employee wellness?
  • What are the opportunities for stock options and other ownership in the organization?

Counter Offers

I define a counteroffer simply as an inducement from your current employer to get you to stay after you’ve announced your intention to take another job. We’re not talking about those instances when you receive an offer but don’t tell your boss. Nor are we discussing offers that you never intended to take, yet tell your employer about anyway as a ‘they-want-me-out I’m-staying-with-you” ploy.

These are merely astute positioning tactics you may choose to use to reinforce your worth by letting your boss know you have other options. Mention of a true counteroffer, however, carries an actual threat to quit.

Interviews with employers who make counteroffers, and employees who accept them, have shown that as tempting as they may be, acceptance may cause career suicide. During the past 20 years, I have seen only isolated incidents in which accepted counteroffers has benefited the employee. Consider the problem in this proper perspective.

What really goes through a boss’ mind when someone quits?

  • “This couldn’t be happening at a worse time.”
  • “This is one of my best people. If I let him quit now, it’ll wreak havoc on the morale of the department.”
  • “I’ve already got one opening in my department. I don’t need another right now.”
  • “This will probably screw up the entire vacation schedule.”
  • “I’m working as hard as I can, and I don’t need to do his work, too.”
  • “If I lose another good employee, the company might decide to ‘lose’ me too.”
  • “My review is coming up and this will make me look bad.”
  • “Maybe I can keep him on until I find a suitable replacement.”

What will the boss say to keep you in the nest? Some of these comments are common:

  • “I’m really shocked. I thought you were as happy with us as we are with you. Let’s discuss it before you make your final decision.”
  • “Aw gee, I’ve been meaning to tell you about the great plans we have for you, but it’s been confidential until now.”
  • “The V.P. has you in mind for some exciting and expanding responsibilities.”
  • “Your raise was scheduled to go into effect next quarter, but we’ll make it effective immediately.”
  • “You’re going to work for who?”

Let’s face it. When someone quits, it’s a direct reflection on the boss. Unless you’re really incompetent or a destructive thorn in his side, the boss might look bad by “allowing” you to go. His gut reaction is to do what has to be done to keep you from leaving until he’s ready. That’s human nature.

Unfortunately, it’s also human nature to want to stay unless your work life is abject misery. Career changes, like all ventures into the unknown, are tough. That’s why bosses know they can usually keep you around by pressing the right buttons.

RSI RightSource, INC
Executive Search Specialists

When you want to quit, and the boss says: ‘Stay’
Chicago Sun Times, by Dick Saunders

You’ve landed a new job, composed a discreet resignation letter and broken the news to your boss. He goes into shock. Your boss. He goes into shock.
“I thought you were as happy with us as we are with you,” he says. “Let’s discuss it before you make your final decision.”
Soon, you find yourself being offered a substantial raise, with promises of great things for the future if you stay. It seems the company that had been taking you for granted has suddenly realized it can’t get along without you.

How flattering! How tempting! How dangerous!

You have just received a counteroffer: an inducement from your current employer to lure you back into the nest after you’ve decided it’s time to fly away.

It’s a delicious moment, and you have every right to savor it. But don’t stop cleaning out your desk.
Career-planning experts say that accepting a counteroffer is almost always a bad idea.

“It never works out, not for more that a month or three, so forget it,” advises Burton E. Lipman, author of “The Professional Job Search Program.”

“Career suicide” is Paul Hawkinson’s two-word opinion of counter offers. In 20 years as an executive recruiter, Hawkinson says he has seen “only isolated incidents in which an accepted counteroffer has benefited the employee.

“Counteroffers are usually nothing more than stall devices to give your employer time to replace you,” Hawkinson wrote recently in National Business Employment Weekly.

But they’ve just offered you a raise to make you stay. Why would they want to replace you?

Because, little bird, you are a loyalty risk. By threatening to fly to another company, you have demonstrated a lack of fidelity. You are not a “team player.” You will henceforth be regarded with suspicion.

What kind of future can you expect at a company that doesn’t trust you?
Chances are your boss didn’t make that counteroffer because he wants to have you around forevermore. He just hasn’t got anyone who can fill your shoes at the moment. Once a suitable replacement is found, you’ll be persona non grata.

The time to leave is when you’re ready to go, not when your boss is ready to get rid of you.
But it would be so much easier to stay in the old nest. Like any venture into the unknown, a job change is tough.

“That’s why,” says Hawkison, “bosses know they can usually keep you around by pressing the right buttons.”

Don’t tear up that resignation letter.

Ask yourself why you wanted to leave the job in the first place. Chances are, those reasons still exist. The counteroffer only temporarily cushions the thorns in the next.

“Conditions are just made a bit more tolerable in the short term because of the raise, promotion or promises made to keep you,” Hawkinson says.

“Counteroffers are only made in response to a threat to quit. Will you have to solicit an offer and threaten to quit every time you deserve better working conditions?”

Who wants to work for a company where you have to get an outside offer before the boss will come up with a raise or a promotion?

Fly, little bird, and don’t look back.

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