Episode 94: Golden Handcuffs- What Do I Do?


February 20th, 2024

17 mins 31 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

We have a letter! One of our listeners wrote to us with a question. They are stuck with what to do with their golden hancuffs. Their current employer was acquired by a larger company. The company wants them to stay, and has given them a year-long series of bonuses and severance if they stay long enough. But they'd also like to look around to see if there are other opportunities. They don’t know what to do about their bonus package in the job search: can they disclose it? Can they use it as leverage it as part of a job negotiation?

It’s a great question, and while we counseled them separately, we share our advice with each of you.

What ARE golden handcuffs? They’re a way that a company incentivizes you to stay with them vs leave after a major change. For example, our listener’s company was acquired and they have golden handcuffs that pay them over the next 6 months to stay with the company vs leave for another job.

For our listener, they get bonuses every 3 months and then another payment if you stay through the pre-determined transition period.

Because our listener is early career, we advised them to stay and get experience with acquisitions and use the bonus package to accumulate a nest egg (assuming they can tolerate it). And we also advised them to not start looking for a new job right away, and instead to take time to make a must-have list, and then start searching 3 months before their last day.

Can our listener use their package to get more money? If YOU are applying for jobs, you can’t use a retention program as leverage, but once someone is interested, or if you are being recruited, you may be able to use it. You can say “I’d love to be considered, but I have this retention package and am planning on staying through the end. Can you help keep me whole?” They likely won’t pay it all out, but maybe it will get you a sign-on bonus.

Deciding what’s right to do? Look at your must-have list, look at what you want to learn, and as opportunities come your way, make lists of pros and cons guided by your must-have list to balance learning, opportunity, stability, and happiness.

Another interesting opportunity may come from the new company, so doing your best post-acquisition and learning about the new company, new ways to do things, and meeting a new network of people is a huge opportunity.

Post-acquisition retention is an incredible learning opportunity. You have the opportunity to see how a new company does things and also see new groups and meet new people. Use the opportunity to learn and grow.

If you do get approached for a new job, tell them right away that you’re planning on staying through the period of your retention bonus and let them know what it looks like to see if they can help move you earlier. Stress that you’re most interested in learning, growth, and opportunity, and you’re willing to give up money for the right opportunity.

If you know you’re talking with a recruiter, write notes and make sure you’re ready for a clear and open conversation. Be confident in who you are, what you’re looking for, and what’s important to you.