Software industry counter offers.. then and now!

In the olden days of recruiting, back in the 80’s and 90’s. Software Recruiters believed that accepting a counter offer would likely lead to disastrous results.

Tales of companies firing candidates months after they accepted a counter offer were rampant. In those days,  if a software engineer with C++, linux kernel or windows  gave notice, the company would make a decision to ‘counter’ the offer as it was critical for them not to lose the employee’s knowledge and expertise, but whoa to that employee once the smoke cleared. This employee would be viewed as being disloyal and could kiss a promotion and/or salary increase goodbye,  and would be the first one on the chopping block when the company needed to have a layoff.  Also, in the long run, for the most part, the issues the employee had with company never really got addressed  and didn’t go away so the employee eventually left anyway.

Fast forward to today where companies and employees are not as loyal to each other as they used to be. Companies do what they need to do and are more likely to layoff when they need to or let go of a non-performing employee. Employees have learned over the years that companies are not as loyal to them so they are much more likely to jump ship when a better opportunity comes along. Companies don’t seem to be as upset with the employee after they accept their counter offer and seem to accept this result as a course of doing business. Companies know it is hard to find talented resources and would rather counter offer and keep the employee, rather than lose them, hire someone new and start all over with a new employee. There are additional costs associated with hiring someone new, both financial and learning curve-related. It’s hard to replace that java, ruby or python developer!

Recently, I received a survey from the Wall Street Journal. I was fascinated to see that even though times have changed, i.e. there’s less loyalty on both sides, and it’s harder than ever to find and keep top talent, but based on this survey, nothing has really changed! The survey says that of the 50% of all professionals who accepted counteroffers 93% left their company within 18 months later. Wow!.. That’s a huge %.

As a current,  in-the-trenches recruiter for the Boston area software industry, I do believe that companies are less vindictive than they used to be, but I also believe that it’s still true for the employee that they face the same post-counter offer issues. They are happy in the short term because their immediate needs are taken care of, but after the smoke clears, most of the time, the reasons why they want to leave still exist.

When evaluating whether to stay or go, an employee should look at whether or not their employer has kept their word. Do they make promises they don’t end up keeping? If so, things will probably not change for them. Also, is it even really possible for your employer to make the changes you desire?  Many times, not matter what, it’s just not doable for them. It is important to evaluate and examine the answers to these questions and others when making a decision to go or to stay.

In fact, it is better to deal with the issues you have with your employer before you even start your job search process.  Find out if changes can be made or not. Try to get these changes made before you give notice. Give your employer a chance to ‘fix’ the problem.  If they can’t, chances are, when they make you a counter offer,  it is likely made out of desparation and/ or in reactive mode. You will know that the counter offer you are getting is just a short term fix for your employer.  It is unlikely that you will ever achieve job satisfaction at this company.

If you are unhappy where you are, Techpros is glad to offer a free consultation on your current situation. Let us work with you to examine whether it’s time to stay or to go!

Give us a call at 617-965-1516 or send an email to!

Mark Goodstein is the President and Founder of Techpros, a permanent placement firm for the Boston area software industry, and would be glad to be a resource to you and to assist you with job search! Mark can be reached at




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