Let's say Bob is severely underpaid but really loves his job, the short commuting distance, and his coworkers. But sadly none of these things make up for the fact that Bob is at least $15,000 underpaid and, as his family grows, has an increasing need for better wages and an increasing desire to feel monetarily compensated for his worth.

Bob spends some significant time job hunting and, after some time and several interviews, gets an offer from a company at the exact wage he wants. As a last effort, Bob goes to his current manager and asks for a wage but without mentioning the other company's offer; no reason to corner what is a relatively a good boss (who in the end has to report to people who make the salary decisions) into an ultimatum situation similar to, "Pay me more or I leave."

To his manager's delight (at being able to keep Bob) and to obviously Bob's as well, the pay raise has been green lit and everyone is happy! Bob respectfully turns down the alternate company's offer and things are well for a few weeks. But then, the powers that be decide to let Bob go for no reason known to Bob or his manager other then the stinginess of the company owners that lead Bob into job hunting in the first place. Now, Bob is out of a job and has to go back to job hunting. Not only has he already interviewed and turned down offers with companies, he has to start fresh and from a significantly less pool of companies to choose from (let's say Bob was really scoped in on staying local).

Is there a way Bob could have avoided this in the first place? Negotiating some sort of contract where he couldn't be fired just weeks after his raise and turning down other offers?

Note: Bob was not fired as a consequence of any action that he took. The owners simply decided they'd rather not pay him at the new salary.

  • And aside from not attempting to get a counter-offer in the first place, it doesn't sound like there was much that you could have done to prevent this.
    – David K
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 19:14
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    As a side note, if Bob's former company realizes the error of their ways and offers to bring him back turn them down. Commented May 27, 2016 at 19:24
  • Maybe it was not technically a counter offer but Bob went in with a big number and an ultimatum. Same thing.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 16:15

4 Answers 4


Is there a way Bob could have avoided this in the first place?

Yes, don't accept a counter offer, ever

Leaving (or threatening to leave explicit or not) changes the dynamic between an employer and employee, there is a statistic (although hard enough to verify it may be a myth) that 90% of counter offers leave (or are fired) within 6-12 months, and my experience (and your story) pretty much bears this out.

If your friend had been vital they would have paid the money from the start (or seen the signs of them looking and raised the money themselves). What happened still involved an implied ultimatum, and the reaction was to stall until it suited them to remove.

  • 5
    Asking for an inflationary raise is normal, asking for $15k is an implied ultimatum. Commented May 27, 2016 at 19:32
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    @8protons I'd say yes, asking for a raise that big is an implied ultimatum, no matter how you phrase it.
    – xxbbcc
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 19:40
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    It wasn't a counter offer: "Bob goes to his current manager and asks for a wage but without mentioning the other company's offer". But I guess it could be seen as an implied ultimatum (they probably interpreted it as "give me a raise or I will start looking for other jobs") Commented May 27, 2016 at 22:28
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    The advice should be don't ask for a counter offer, ever..
    – Ouroboros
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 11:18
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    Don't ask for an never accept a counter offer should be on the title page of the workplace. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 16:02

From the dollar figure in your salary shortcoming, I am assuming you are US based (otherwise this answer might not hold true) In which case, you have no chance, of doing what you said, i.e., having the company sign such a document, unless you hold the golden key to the success of this company.

If this company is treating you like s#!+ as far as the wages go for a long time and know about this to give in to your salary increase demand, they know what they are doing. And they know you want to stay there because you did for such a long time for such a pittance compensation. So they dangle the carrot and let you go as a retaliation, not because they are stingy.

If I were you, I would take the other company's offer. They have seen something in you and decided you are worth that much money to them. Unless you seriously oversold yourself and any doubts that you can not deliver what is expected of you there, I would leave without looking back, You might have a good manager and stellar coworkers but at the end of the day, money talks. Obviously for you, it was just whispering for a looong, long time.


The general rule is: Don't accept a counter offer. In the best case, a counter offer means you will stay at the old place for a year or so, because your old company knows you want to leave. Worst case, something like this happens. Once you decided to leave and you find a good offer, leave.

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    It wasn't a counter offer: "Bob goes to his current manager and asks for a wage but without mentioning the other company's offer" Commented May 27, 2016 at 22:27

Yes, you can do something to ask for a reasonable raise (READ, a raise, not a counter-offer) and not get fired just weeks after... talk about a career plan.

Let's say you permitted the company to underpay you in the past and they accepted your performance (whatever it was) but from the raise on, you need to plan your future in the company, you're not receiving the raise for free, you need to add value to your job, basically, you need to change your status from being cheaper to being a key player.

When you become a real good employee it is hard to replace you and that in the end makes them value your work.

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