Empyrean Consulting, Inc.
Counter Offer Education
Q: I work from home in Southern California in
a niche field for a large Boston-based financial services firm. Because of my
work from home arrangement, I have been paid less than I would have if I were
to work in the Boston office. A recruiter recently contacted me about a job
opening with one of the most well-respected, stable financial companies in the
world. I was offered the job and would have to move – to a much less expensive
area — if I accept. The pay is 30% higher; and the bonus is also higher. I
told my boss about the offer and asked if the company might increase my salary.
He said he would ask his boss and see if there is some way they could match the
base salary from the offer I got, but that the bonus couldn’t be matched. Was I
dumb to ask for this? Will it hurt me in the long run if I stay with my current
A: Before you approached your boss and told
him about your competing offer, it probably would have been a good idea to find
out how your employer has reacted to other employees who may have mentioned
competing offers in an effort to get a pay raise. “Some company culture
are unforgiving of employees who appear to be looking for opportunities outside
the firm,” says Alane Baranello, managing director at Eileen Finn &
Associates, an executive recruiting firm. “In these cases, an employee
might be “forced” to leave a firm if their request is denied,”
says Ms. Baranello
This, of course, may not be the case with your firm especially since you work in a niche field. Still, “counteroffers rarely work as they often make the company feel like they have been held hostage,” says Jo Bennett, a partner with Battalia Winston,
an executive-search firm. The best strategy would have been for you to make up
your mind and decide what you wanted to do first, then approach your firm.
Most people need to consider the money, as you have in this case, then the future career opportunity and finally the people with whom you would work, says Ms. Bennett. If two of the three criteria puts you in a better situation in the long run, then it might be worth it make the jump. Then, “you give notice and if your boss doesn’t want you to go, you might get a counteroffer,” says Ms. Bennett.
Now that your boss knows about the offer, he’s going to be asked by his boss whether or not you’re worth a raise. “You will be subject to an off-cycle performance appraisal with the addition question “Is he loyal enough to keep?,” says Mr. Paul
Gavejian, managing director at Total Compensation Solutions. You may need to
assuage worries your boss might have in case he is worried that you just got
another offer to leverage a pay increase—whether or not you did.
Truth is, your boss doesn’t sound too encouraging; he’s already told you that the bonus couldn’t be matched. So, if your increase isn’t going to be granted, “take the high road,” if you decide to stay, says Mr. Gavejian. To that end, you’re really just trying to
ensure that you can meet the cost of living increases in an area where the cost
of living is higher than the national average. You can say that you didn’t mean
to be disloyal to the company but that “you’ve heard your job pays a lot
more in other companies and that you want to be sure that you’re being paid
fairly for your work,” says Mr. Gavejian.
Of course, this all assumes that your work product, performance and dedication to your job remains high. In many cases, companies don’t often take into account employee growth on the job. “It is okay to point these out to your employer and it is even considered a plus in some circles,” says Mr. Gavejian. Try to position yourself as someone who is committed to your job, who is successful and who is therefore worth more money.
The most important thing is to do is to turn around any negative perception that you put your boss into a bind and forced him to raise your salary with a counteroffer. If you’re able to do that, are happy in your current job and believe you can keep up the quality of your work, then “your future success with your current employer should not be affected,” says Ms. Baranello. If you’re not sure you can do that, you
might want to consider the offer you received – or plan to look for another job
even if you don’t jump at the current offer.
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