Mastering job offer negotiations: The ultimate guide to handling counter offers

Career Advice
Tomás Battaglia

By Tomás Battaglia
January 15, 2024

February 19, 2024

0 min read

Have you ever received a job offer and thought:

This is good, but it could be better

You're not alone.

In today's competitive job market, knowing how to negotiate counter offers effectively has become indispensable for career advancement. Whether you're changing jobs for the first time or are a seasoned professional, negotiating counter offers is an art form that requires preparation, strategic thinking, and effective communication.

The challenge, however, lies in striking that balance between modesty in your self-presentation and setting ambitious yet achievable goals. Following a few key principles can significantly increase your chances of reaching a favourable agreement. 

This article will discuss the essential steps and common pitfalls to avoid when negotiating counter offers. Read on to discover how you can master the art of negotiation and confidently navigate these tricky conversations. 

Here is a breakdown of the sections covered:

Assessing counter offers: what's at stake for you?

About 29% of employers extend counter offers to retain top performers. This information suggests that almost one in three employers are open to presenting counteroffers as a strategy to keep their best employees.

A counter offer can take on many forms: a salary increase, additional benefits, a promotion, or a shift in job responsibilities. It’s an employer’s tactic to retain valued talent, save on recruitment costs, and preserve team stability. For employees, it often sparks a critical reassessment of their role and worth within the organisation.

From the employer's perspective, making a counteroffer is strategic. The expenses and time involved in recruiting and training a new employee are substantial, often making retaining existing staff more economical and efficient. 

For candidates, a counter offer can be a turning point. It prompts a re-evaluation of their current job satisfaction, company position, and future career trajectory. It’s not merely a financial proposition but a complex decision entailing thorough consideration of one's professional aspirations and personal contentment in their current role.

Understanding the dynamics of a counte roffer is essential. It’s a multifaceted scenario where the stakes are high for both the employer and the employee. Exploring this complex landscape demands insight, clarity, and a deep sense of one's professional objectives.

When should I consider accepting a counter offer?

Hand with a magnifying glass over a selected candidateSource: Canva

The decision to entertain a counter offer is pivotal in a professional's career journey. It necessitates a nuanced understanding of not just the offer itself but also of one's career ambitions, job satisfaction levels, and future prospects. When you’re presented with a counter offer, it's not just about weighing a higher salary against your current pay. It's about considering a multitude of factors that contribute to your long-term career fulfilment and professional development.

Reflecting on why you sought a new job in the first place is key. Is it for a higher salary, better job role, more conducive work culture, or growth opportunities? Or is it just a career adventure? Understanding these motivating factors is critical.

If your primary concern is financial, a counter offer with a significant salary increase might be tempting. However, if your reasons are more aligned with career progression, work-life balance, or job satisfaction, you'll need to scrutinise whether the counter offer effectively addresses these aspects.

The allure of a new role should be measured against the potential benefits of staying put. Does the new role offer better career growth, learning opportunities, and a path to achieving your long-term career goals? Evaluating how these compare to what's being proposed in your current organisation’s counter offer is essential.

Financial considerations are, undoubtedly, a significant factor. A substantial pay rise can be a strong incentive. Yet, it's vital to look beyond immediate monetary gain. Consider the entire compensation package, including benefits, job security, and prospects for future salary increments and promotions. Remember always to look years ahead, and  not just aim for the next paycheck.

Accepting a counter offer's emotional and professional implications also warrant careful consideration. Will staying at your current job after wanting to leave impact your relationship with your employer and colleagues? How will it affect your professional reputation and advancement opportunities in the your current company?

In essence, considering a counter offer is about more than just the immediate perks. It's a decision that impacts your professional trajectory, job satisfaction, and overall career strategy. It requires a balanced evaluation of both the tangible and intangible benefits, ensuring that your decision aligns not just with your current needs, but also with your long-term career aspirations. 

Strategies for effectively negotiating counter offers

Employer and candidate shake handsSource: Canva

Negotiating a counter offer is a critical moment in any professional's career.  It demands an understanding of one's worth and  also the ability to articulate it effectively. When approached correctly, it can lead to a mutually beneficial outcome for both you and your employer.

Keep in mind that this negotiation is your opportunity to align your career trajectory with your personal and professional aspirations, making it essential to approach it with preparation and poise.

Assess your current position

Before entering into negotiations, take a moment to evaluate your current role. Consider factors like job satisfaction, career progression, and work-life balance. Are your reasons for considering a move purely financial, or are there deeper issues at play? If you take money into consideration and there are more aspects involved, you might just make the wrong choice and be in the same situation a few months ahead.

Here’s a list of questions you should ask yourself in order to do that:

1. Why am I looking for a new job?

This will help you reflect on reasons that prompted your job search. Is the salary, career growth, work-life balance, culture or something else?

2. Does the counter offer address these problems?

Put in perspective what is going to chance if you accept the new deal. If you wanted more career advancement opportunities, does the counteroffer include a clear path for promotion? If the answer is no, you might be just postponing the problem.

3. What are my long-term career goals?

Are you willing to take more risk, or do you want a more stable position for now? How does staying with your current employer versus moving to the new company align with your long-term career aspirations? 

4. What am I looking for in terms of company culture?

Are you satisfied with the company culture and your colleagues? Sometimes, a positive work environment can be more valuable than financial incentives.

Articulate your value

Understand and communicate your worth to your employer. Before the meeting, save some time to prepare and think about your trajectory in the business. Highlight your achievements and the unique skills you bring to the table. Mention notable projects you were involved in and your contributions to each of them.

Being able to showcase the impact you had on the business with your effort will be very important. If you work in a segment where expertise is a crucial factor, highlight that as well and bring concrete examples that demonstrate your value to the organisation. The more important to the business, the more you are worth.

Be clear about your expectations

When discussing a counter offer, be clear about what you expect: a salary increase, additional benefits, or improved working conditions. This is a crucial moment in your career, be certain that you bring everything that you expect to the table.

Ensure that your requests are reasonable and aligned with industry standards but don’t be shy while asking for more. In fact, 51% of employees tend to feel bad when asking for more money. There’s no shame in keeping your personal interests first.

Prepare to negotiate

Research the market standards for your role and be ready to discuss them during your negotiation. Don’t be overbearing and try to balance firmness with flexibility. Advocate for yourself while understanding the employer’s constraints. Try to raise your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) with a collaborative mindset, aiming for a solution that satisfies both parties. 

Here are a few factors to take into account:

1. What’s the salary I’m aiming for?

Having a range of pay that you want will help you negotiate and achieve the numbers that you’re looking for. R  emember to consider not only the base pay, but also signup bonuses, benefits, PTO,  perks and more.

2. Do I already have a structured career pathway in this company?

This is the perfect time to talk about your career within a company. You can negotiate a timeline for promotions or even to change from an individual contributor to a people manager in the future, if that is what you desire. 

3. Do I want any changes in my job description? If yes, what are they?

Assessing the changes you may like to have on your job description can help you get organised beforehand. That way you can go to the negotiation with not only compelling arguments for them to happen, but also knowing which ones you would be willing to be more flexible about and the ones that would be deal-breakers for you.

Start by identifying areas in your current job description that don't align with your skills, interests, or career goals. Consider tasks you want to add that could enhance your role or responsibilities you feel could be delegated to others. Reflect on the balance of workload and how it impacts your productivity and job satisfaction.

Steering your career path forward with Airswift

Navigating the complexities of counter offers is an integral part of modern career development. It requires a deep understanding of your career goals, a clear evaluation of your current and potential new roles, and the ability to negotiate effectively. By considering the full spectrum of factors discussed in this blog, you'll be well-equipped to make decisions that align with your long-term professional aspirations.

As you contemplate your next steps, whether you're weighing up a counter offer or seeking new opportunities, remember that you're not alone in this journey. Airswift, a global workforce solutions provider, is here to support you. With over 35 years of experience in transforming the lives of our candidates and clients, we understand the intricacies of the world of work. Our commitment to delivering excellence in employment and recruitment solutions means we're adept at guiding professionals like you through every career milestone, including the delicate negotiation of counter offers.

Whether you're looking for a new role in engineering, technology, renewable energy, or beyond, our extensive job board is a great place to start. We invite you to explore our latest job listings and resources tailored to your career growth.

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