After four years working at a Toronto software firm, David Grindal's career seemed to be stalled at a mid-level sales support job.
"I made it known to management that I wasn't making the progress I thought I should be making" but nothing seemed to be changing, Mr. Grindal says.
That's why he was more than ready to leave when he landed a job with another company for a management position in his software specialty, along with a higher salary.
After accepting the new position, however, his own employer suddenly came back with its own enticements to get him to stay.
"They told me they wanted to create a new management position and wanted me to take it," he recalls.
His new title would be manager of the business support group, which came with less salary than the competing offer but a share of commissions that, in a good year, could double his pay.
"After sweating over the decision for about a week, I ended up deciding [his current employer]offered long-term growth potential that I wanted so I stayed -- and I'm glad I did," Mr. Grindal says.
To stay or to go? That's the dilemma some employees may face when they suddenly find themselves being courted all over again by their current employer after they have been offered a job somewhere else, whether they were actively hunting for it or caught the attention of a recruiter.
And in today's hot job market, experienced employees who get a tempting offer from another company are increasingly likely to find their current employer coming back with its own temptations in the form of a counteroffer of more money, a promotion or even a signing bonus to keep them from leaving.
But career experts warn employees to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision on whether to accept or reject a counteroffer.
While it can put you in the driver's seat in negotiating for more perks and power at your current position, there's a risk that, as a career path, it may lead to a dead end.
It's a more common dilemma to face these days.
A survey by The Creative Group staffing service last month found that 63 per cent of 250 U.S. companies in advertising and marketing said they were likely to make a counteroffer to keep a high-performing employee from quitting to take another job.
That's a switch from just a few years ago. Counteroffers almost never happened outside a few highly competitive industries, says Gerlinde Hermann, president of the Toronto-based search firm The Hermann Group Ltd. and chairwoman of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario.
Now, they are becoming common in all fields, she says.
It's more likely that managers, directors, senior specialists and anyone with unique skills within an organization will get a counteroffer if they plan to jump ship, Ms. Hermann says.
The prime reason for the shift: the search for managerial talent is taking longer and becoming far more competitive, she says. Three years ago, it took four to six weeks to find qualified candidates to fill a managerial position. Today, the search can take up to three months.
To avoid that disruption, employers are willing to bump up base pay, offer a bigger title with more responsibility or a transfer to a plum assignment to get a key person to stay.
Lately, Ms. Hermann says, employers may also sweeten their offers with signing bonuses that range from $5,000 to $20,000 to get an immediate commitment.
They are going to other lengths, too, says career consultant Paul Copcutt, president of Square Peg Solution in Hamilton.
Among tactics he has seen are senior management taking departing employees out for a "thank you" lunch, which is really a hard-sell pitch to stay with the organization, and leaning on co-workers or clients to urge employees to stay.
But career experts are divided on whether it's a good idea for employees to take the hook and stay at a job they were ready to leave.