Posted By: Deanna DeBenedictis

Telling your boss you're taking a new job is never easy. Getting a counter offer to stay may look great at face value: More money, advancement /managerial possibilities, no big culture change to adjust to or loss of seniority.

But file it under "Be Careful What You Wish For," because the reality of accepting a counter offer or "buyback," is complicated. You also have to consider that:

  • It may plant a seed of doubt in your employer's mind. They may question your long-term motivation and loyalty. Giving notice then changing your mind when more money is offered to stay in your current position sends the message that your motivation is purely financial.
  • It could cause resentment among coworkers, who may also question your loyalty.
  • It can damage your reputation among hiring executives or colleagues. To accept an offer and then renege is not something that will soon be forgotten. And if your decision to stay in a current position proves to be wrong, having accepted the buyback could hurt future job searches.
  • A counter offer isn't going to change a bad situation unless it led to an open discussion about your role. If you were unhappy in the first place, simply getting more money isn't going to make the work more satisfying.
  • There could be a negative motivation behind the offer. Does your employer genuinely want to keep you or is s/he more concerned with losing you (and any insider information; client knowledge, etc…) to a competitor.
Of course, if you love what you do and the company you work for, there are reasons to stay. However, using a job offer as a bargaining chip is always a gamble.

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