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I'm currently working as the sole web developer of a company for a year. Out of my desire for a higher pay and a mentor, I started submitting applications to different companies without my current employer's knowledge. Last week, I was offered a job in a company with a big development team (20 developers atm) with a significantly greater pay (almost a 70% increase in gross). Out of excitement and self-interest, I immediately took the offer and gave my 30-days notice to my current company.

My boss was, of course, really surprised and requested that we finish all our pending tasks first before I leave. My current workload in my current company has been really light recently and I expected to have no big projects for 2 weeks or so after I finished my current project (which I had already finished last week), so I insisted on leaving. As it turned out, my boss has a problem with our recruitment and wasn't confident that I'd get a replacement that quickly. I realized that my departure will leave them in a bit of a bind.

By the end of last week, the company president contacted me personally and offered to match the other company's offer (though slightly less). But said that he totally supports my decision should I continue to leave. But said that the company is on to something big and might venture into different development projects.

I do not know which side offers better opportunities. I do know that I owe my current company for giving me my first job. If I do decide to stay, what do I say to the new company, so that I don't burn bridges should I decide to ultimately go there because the opportunities in my company doesn't work out?

This is my first career decision, I'm only 22 so I really don't have any idea on how to deal with these decisions.

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    Please see the FAQ - workplace.stackexchange.com/faq - and consider structuring your question in such a way as to meet the requirements (specifically "What questions are off topic here?") – enderland Sep 10 '12 at 2:47
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    You can do so, but understand, you will be training your replacement. If your current boss won't even match the offer you have on the table you should take the better offer. Their inability to find a replacement is not your concern. – Ramhound Sep 10 '12 at 11:54
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    offered to match the other company's offer (though slightly less). slighly less does not equal match. 9 != 10, it is slightly less! This is a sucker offer, counter offers always are, counter offers for less even more so, don't take it! They won't trust you now, and will make sure they can replace you as quickly as possible out of fear, your days are numbered either way. They don't appreciate you enough to actually match the offer, their problems aren't yours. Business is not friendship despite how you might feel, it is business. – Jarrod Roberson Sep 10 '12 at 12:02
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    They could have afforded to significanlty pay you more all along and chose not to? Hard to feel sorry for them. – user8365 Sep 10 '12 at 15:38
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First, it's good to hear that you're concerned with doing the right thing when it comes to being reliable in the eyes of both employers. That says a lot about who you are as a person today and what type of person you'll be tomorrow.

It seems that you'd owe the most to the company you're currently with, and since the grass is greener on the other side, you have an advantage right now. You're current employer offered to match the offer made by the other employer, which now changes your decision. All things being equal, you know what it's like working with your current employer. If you enjoy the work, you may want to stay on with them and enjoy the new opportunities they'll offer you.

To avoid burning bridges with the new employer, you could have a discussion with them. Instead of making the decision now, mention to them that your current employer just offered to match their offer, and because of that, you're thinking about staying on with them because you really enjoy the company and the work.

Ask them for a couple days to think about the decision. Strategically, this may give them an opportunity to counter-offer yet again, which may affect your decision.

If not, they should understand, as salary is important. As long as you're honest, give them plenty of notice, then that door should be open to you in the future once you outgrow your current employer. If they don't handle this well and act unprofessional, then you may want to question whether or not you'd want to work there in the first place.

If the new employer does handle your decline well and understands the situation, keep in touch with anyone whom you've met there. Those contacts may be important in the future.

Whatever you decide to do, just remember to be honest, professional, and respect all parties involved. Good luck!

  • Hi! I am drafting the letter as I speak :D Thanks. Can I tell them to "keep the doors open for me"? And if yes, how do I phrase it well? One of the main reasons that I want to leave is because I want to learn from senior developers. I believe that it will really help me in my career. I am the only developer in my current company and I was really looking forward to the new company. So I'd like to keep options open, after I'd made sure that I did good for my current company – sephiroth Sep 10 '12 at 4:04
  • Best advice I can offer is to just ask. It's okay to say you're not sure what you're doing and ask to think about it a few days. They may counter-offer. Aside from that, I'd just be guessing. Every employer is different and has different needs. – jmort253 Sep 10 '12 at 4:44
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    The only issue with 'talk to the new company' is that this might be perceived as you trying to drag them into a bidding war. That might well be more damaging to your reputation than just turning them down. – DJClayworth Nov 22 '12 at 16:13
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    This advice looks terrible to me, given what has been said in other answers and comments... @sephiroth any update about what happened later, since it's been ~1.5 years since then? – o0'. Mar 25 '14 at 9:55
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    BTW, since everyone else here is saying "switch", and this is the very only "stay" suggestion, I can safely say the OP had already decided and was just searching for anyone confirming that, wasn't really interested in actual reasons. – o0'. Mar 25 '14 at 10:08
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There are alot of disadvantages to staying when they make a counter-offer.

First whatever problem(s) that led you to be willing to look for a new job (and it is almost never just money) will still be there.

Next, since you will have received a large pay increase, then you can expect that you will not be receiving another pay increase for quite some time. This includes cost of living increases.

Some companies only make a counteroffer to keep the person until they can find a replacement, so accepting can be risky. You have another job right now, you might not in two months when they downsize your job away from you.

You have the potential to anger a possible employer by retracting the offer. This might make it harder for you to move on later depending on your local job market.

What advantage so you have to staying? It is not more moeney because you have said that the other offer was higher. It is not professional growth because that appears to be better at the new company. So really the only advantage you have is that you stay with something familiar. Is that really what you want? Do you really want to stay somewhere where they clearly could have been paying you market value all long and they didn't choose to?

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    Well put and compelling reasons for the OP to move on to the new job. – Angelo Sep 10 '12 at 17:11
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    Stay out of your comfort zone. – jean27 Nov 22 '12 at 17:10
  • +1 KEY TAKEAWAY - Some companies only make a counteroffer to keep the person until they can find a replacement, so accepting can be risky. – sid smith Jun 29 '14 at 22:23
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I've been recruiting software engineers for about 15 years now. Lots of problems to mention here.

I'm currently working as the sole web developer of a company for a year. Out of my desire for a higher pay and a mentor, I started submitting applications to different companies without my current employer's knowledge.

If you are the sole web developer of a small company where you have no mentor, it sounds like your current employer is not a great place for you to be as a 22 year old. You have nobody else to learn from and you feel you are underpaid (a notion that was confirmed when you were offered a whopping 70% increase with a new offer). At your age you would generally be better off at a job with a mentor and with co-workers that you could learn from, even if you were making less money.

Last week, I was offered a job in a company with a big development team (20 developers atm) with a significantly greater pay (almost a 70% increase in gross). Out of excitement and self-interest, I immediately took the offer and gave my 30-days notice to my current company.

As a 22 year old getting a 70% increase you should be excited here, but you should be equally excited (from a career development perspective) of your ability to now work with some other people. If you are a good developer, the money will come - the key is honing your craft and getting good at it, and finding dev shops that allow you to learn and grow.

My boss was, of course, really surprised and requested that we finish all our pending tasks first before I leave.

Their first reaction is always surprise. Even if he/she wasn't surprised, that has to be the initial reaction if a counter offer is to be made. If you had asked any decent recruiter or career expert what would happen after your resignation, they would have predicted the steps that your company made with a high degree of certainty. Any company that is about to make a counter offer first has to act surprised, then say what big things are in store for you (new projects, a promotion you had coming). This is standard fare.

By the end of last week, the company president contacted me personally and offered to match the other company's offer (though slightly less). But said that he totally supports my decision should I continue to leave. But said that the company is on to something big and might venture into different development projects.

Again, this is pretty standard counter offer stuff here, but usually they match it to the dollar or even go above the other offer. They promise you a more interesting role and responsibility. That doesn't mean that the promise is an empty one, but that is what companies do.

I do not know which side offers better opportunities. I do know that I owe my current company for giving me my first job. If I do decide to stay, what do I say to the new company, so that I don't burn bridges should I decide to ultimately go there because the opportunities in my company doesn't work out?

It depends on how you define better opportunities. At your age, learning is the most important thing in your career development. As I said, the money will come to you if you get good at your job, so focus on that first and worry about making enough money to maintain a decent lifestyle and pay your bills. I can't see how being the sole web developer at a company, where you were quite obviously grossly underpaid and without a mentor at the impressionable age of 22, is a solid career choice. It may have been your only choice at the time, but it's not an ideal situation.

You say you 'owe' your current company for giving you your first job? It sounds like they were the ones that owed you, as they clearly were underpaying you for at least a portion of your stint. Do you know how long it takes most people to get 70% increases? The fact that this new employer gave you an offer this high, and then your current employer almost matched immediately is a clear sign that you were underpaid. Being loyal to a company is a good thing overall, but being loyal to a company should never come at the expense of your own career and being loyal to yourself (and family that depends on your career success). I feel your loyalty to your current employer may be at your own expense.

You don't need to listen to all the doom and gloom that most recruiter articles will tell you ('You will be the first one fired', 'Your loyalty is always in question now and you'll never get a promotion', etc.), as not all of that is always true. Lesson learned, classic counter offer situation that happens all the time. Judge opportunities on more than just dollars (unless you are in dire need of every dollar), and at 22 you really need to find some people to learn from. Good luck either way!

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    I could not agree more with your statement sole web developer of a small company where you have no mentor is not a great place for you to be as a 22 year old. Regardless of conditions, regardless of whose offer is slightly higher or slightly lower, you owe it to yourself to move to a job where you can work in an actual team and learn from more experienced people. – Carson63000 Sep 14 '12 at 6:27
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The moment you tell them you are reconsidering, especially if they think you are trolling for a better offer, they might decide to cut their losses and go with their next choice.

Their ability to be flexible is only known by them. They may not be able to increase the salary any more, depending on the source of the money for your job. They may be trying to fill the position by a deadline, every day they miss the deadline costs them money.

Depending on the company size you might be closing that door forever. Their opinion of you will be dependent on how much they have spent on this transition since you agreed to the offer. They may have started to move people around in anticipation of your start date, they might have informed other candidates that somebody has accepted the position, and those candidates moved on to other possible positions.

Once you hint at the possibility of changing your mind you need to realize it is then out of your control. Waiting too long will damage their opinion of you, but telling them you have doubts in hope of them increasing their offer may backfire.

Decide which offer you will take before contacting them. If it is to stay with the old company, then tell them that. If it is to go with the new company then there is no reason to let them know.

  • You don't even get into the possible professional damage at his current job. His boss wasn't even aware he wasn't happy. – Ramhound Sep 10 '12 at 11:57
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    That damage was done when he told them he was leaving. If he decides to stay he may already be seen as disloyal. – mhoran_psprep Sep 10 '12 at 15:34
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Given the described situation, I don't see how accepting the offer from your current employer can be considered beneficial -- you will end up with less money, no mentor and either doing the same old thing or possibly being the mentor as they bring somene else on (or possibly even worse, they bring someone else to be in charge who will more likely have the responsibility of letting you go and replacing you with someone cheaper).

I disagree with those implying that a counter offer should never be accepted, or that it's just asking for trouble later. But such a large discrepancy between what you were getting and what they are offering, is a big red flag in my opinion.

While your loyalty is comendable, it doesn't seem to be returned -- if they offered you a 70% increase, that means that they were underpaying you by about 42%. A 5 or 10% increase would be unexceptional, 20% about what you might expect as a response to a potential disruption...30 or 40, maybe, but 70%? They weren't paying you anywhere near what they figure you are worth, and nobody had brought this to your attention. What would you think if they had walked in on you before this and said that they wanted to cut your salary by 42%, not because your work was unsatisfactory but just to save the company money? That's what it looks to me like they did, they just didn’t tell you about it.

Putting the best possible face on it, they don't know what they are doing and how to fairly judge your compensation -- but combine that with their hints at new projects and I think it's likely that they still don't get it, and will be adding new responsibilities above both your (new) pay-grade and experience.

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