Dear Matt: I decided to leave my current employer because I received an offer from another company. I went to put in my two weeks’ notice with my manager — but then my employer surprised me with a counter offer of a salary increase and promotion promise. Should I be cautious?

Matt says: The Twin Cities information technology job market is hot and local managers are making these exact types of moves to keep good talent, says Jacqui Snyder, an IT Recruiter with Minneapolis-based Infinity Consulting Solutions, Inc. (

“The employee is often flattered and accepts the offer,” says Snyder.

Money talks. But should you listen?

“Unfortunately, accepting a counter offer is more often than not a very poor choice in the long run,” says Snyder.

Here’s why.

People who are looking for a new job aren’t necessarily looking just for a raise, says Snyder. There’s often an underlying reason, such as not getting along with their manager or co-workers; lack of upward mobility; a long commute; a workplace that isn’t flexible; problems with corporate culture; long hours. The reasons vary for each individual.

“When the employee receives the counter offer, the flattery and the raise will make them stay,” says Snyder. “However, the reasons that caused the employee to want to leave remain the same.”

Guess what else accepting a counter offer does? It buys time for the company to try and find a replacement for you — one that is usually cheaper, too, says Snyder.

“In my opinion, accepting a counter offer is like putting a target on your back,” she says.

The reasons are this: The manager knows you were looking and considers you a “flight risk” and no longer a loyal employee. He or she will most likely keep the candidate happy with a raise and empty promises only to keep them around until they backfill the position. And after the flattery goes away from a large raise and praise from the manager, the same problems that made the candidate start looking in the first place still exist.

In a matter of time, the job seeker will start looking again.

Also ask yourself: Why did you need to threaten to leave in order for them to realize your value? Where did the money for the raise suddenly come from? Could it be the next raise you were going to get anyway, just given early? If so, how long will it be until you get the next raise?

“You’ve made your employer aware that you’re not happy and looking to leave,” says Snyder. “Your loyalty will always be in question. You will be the next one out in bad times.”

There are risks involved. Be cautious of the counter. Before you accept, make sure it’s worth giving up that new opportunity you worked so hard to get.

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