How to decide between a job you love and an unsolicited opportunity with a new employer

Dear Joan:
I have worked for a company for 21 years. I love my job and get along well with management. I perceive they really like me and would probably hate losing me. I am being courted for a position at a new company...a competitor. I was not actively looking elsewhere. Again, I'm very happy where I'm at. It would be a big promotion compared to what I'm doing now. 
Do I let my current boss/employer know that I'm being courted or let it play out. I am not one to leverage the company in any way for additional benefits or more pay.
Telling your employer you are being courted will only look like one thing: “See how valuable I am? If you want to keep me you have to demonstrate how much you appreciate me…and do something to make me stay.” I applaud your decision to not leverage this situation to extract more from your current employer. That can backfire. I’ve seen cases where a person tries to play games in the hopes he or she can manipulate the current employer but the employer calls their bluff and doesn’t counter, or the person stays but the relationship is soured.
I think it’s in your best interest to play this out (if you decide you really have interest in the new job). Then, if your company makes a counter offer you will have to make the decision.
You are wise to do some soul searching before you start down this path. The questions to consider are these:
  • How important is the potential promotion? If your career goals include moving up and earning more money and having more responsibility, this opportunity should be carefully considered on its own merit.
  • Have you talked with your current employer about your career goals? If you haven’t had a conversation with your current employer about development on the job/advancement opportunities you owe it to yourself and to them.
  • If you’ve been at your current company for 21 years, with no other work experience, you may be in your 40’s. If that is the case, you need to take a step back and look at your career. Do you want to stay at this company for your entire career? Is there any advancement opportunity? Will you be satisfied ten or twenty years down the road if you are still doing what you are doing now? Is the company financially secure? If and when senior management changes, will you still be in a good position? Ask the same questions about the new company.
  • What is your risk tolerance? Would you rather feel safe and comfortable than try for something new and different? If you took the new job and it didn’t work out would you be willing and able to find something else in your field?
If you decide to pursue the new position, make it clear to them that you are happy where you are but you are interested in an exploratory interview to learn more about the new opportunity. Then think about these questions:
  • What is your family situation? How would the new position affect your work/life balance and financial situation?
  • Who would you report to and what are their expectations? Do you feel confident that you would succeed?
  • What is the culture of the new company? Is it a fit for you?
  • Are the peers, senior management and employees a fit for your personality and work style?
  • Why do they want you? What problems do they hope you can solve? What value do they think you can bring?
Before you agree to a second interview, make the decision that you would take a job offer seriously. If you are just going through the motions and have already decided you wouldn’t take the job don’t waste their time and give them false hope. You don’t want to burn a bridge with them. 

If you do accept an offer, be prepared for a counter offer. But consider this: sometimes when an employee accepts a counter offer and stays put, it can make the employer feel less secure about the loyalty of that employee. Is she committed to us? Will she leave at the next opportunity? It’s just human nature.
I think you’d be foolish to ignore the opportunity. Why not go and explore it? If you’re open to the possibilities, you will either discover you have a whole new world open to you, or you will find out you have it better where you are. Either way, you win.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by email

Email Joan to submit your question for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site. Visit to search an archive of more than 1700 of Joan's articles.
© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.