People look at taking a counter offer in many different ways. Some think it’s unethical and/or unprofessional and of course it can be both, but it also can be neither.

Let’s take the scenario of a high profile college coach who isn’t quite on the hot seat, but isn’t able to lock down a raise and a contract extension. Said coach, who may be worried about his job security, interviews with another school, gets an offer, but then turns it down after his current school offers more money and a contract extension.

Is this unethical or unprofessional? Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t say this is unethical or unprofessional. However, depending upon how this coach went about things (what were their actions, intentions and motivations. Not to mention public statements throughout the process), it could be very unprofessional.

So how does this relate to IT professional today? Many companies have begun to utilize the counter offer as a business strategy to protect what they perceive as their corporate assets. So before you find yourself in the spotlight and under scrutiny by management (and your peers) about should you or shouldn’t you. Here are a few questions to ask yourself well before you take the interview and begin down the road to a potential counter offer.

• What are your reasons for pursuing another job and have you addressed these with your boss? e.g., money, promotion, project assignments, etc.

• Can these be overcome by a counter offer? If not, then why would you even let them offer one?

• What are the reasons why would they want to make a counter offer?

• What happens down the road if I take that counter offer?

In today’s market, it is imperative that these questions be asked AND answered before you ever accept that interview. If not, the odds of coming across as unprofessional (i.e., burning bridges) goes up exponentially.

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