Finding Work: Managing a counter-offer

cord helps Engineers direct message other people looking to hire them. But finding work isn’t just about access to hiring managers…

Finding your best work is a life’s journey uncovered through an ongoing conversation with ourselves and the world around us.

The Best Work Stories podcast hosts conversations between Ben (Co-founder and CEO of cord) and Founders, CTO’s, Software Engineers and people in tech who are on their own journey to find their best work.


Mahesh Chahar (00:00):

They come up first and they agreed to give me the sponsorship. I got the job and everything. And now I’m saying, okay, my employer agreed. I think this is really bad. I really feel bad when I had to say this.

Ben Henley-Smith (00:15):

Your definition of work and what it means to you. And then, how you go about finding it, and what that process.

Mahesh Chahar (00:24):

I’m a site reliability engineer. I have around 10 years of experience in IT. I’m passionate about the technology I work with. I work with AWS, mainly Terraform communities. I registered on cord two or three months back. I think it’s a cool platform because I found recruiters were automatically reaching out to me. Within two months I think I had three offers.

Ben Henley-Smith (00:51):

Geez, Louise.

Mahesh Chahar (00:55):


Ben Henley-Smith (00:56):

Love it.

Mahesh Chahar (00:59):

The cord platform provided a good overview. When a recruiter was reaching out to me, I can see what are their primary skills they are looking for, what are their secondary skills they are looking for. That’s how I was able to filter out those recruiters I think I will be a good match to. Then I had the discussion further. And for me, I think the most important these technologies, because I enjoy working with them. And then, there are some important things which we discuss over the interview.

Ben Henley-Smith (01:33):

How would you describe your own relationship with work?

Mahesh Chahar (01:38):

It’s not like I do my work because I have to, or I want to earn money. I, at the same time, enjoy my work. So, when I’m finished with the work, I don’t have something in my mind, oh, I have to do this. If I have other thing in my mind, I did it this way, how better I can solve it. So, I’m always curious, or think about it, how I can do the solution in a better way. Why I do so? Because I enjoy my work. Why I enjoy my work is, the technologies I’m working with, I like them. End of the day I deliver products which make sense. You have, I think, a sense of satisfaction that your work matters.

Ben Henley-Smith (02:32):

You’ve been a DevOps engineer at some incredible companies, Atos, Grand Parade. How have you gone about making your most recent decision?

Mahesh Chahar (02:41):

My most recent decision was to move to the UK because I have a family. My daughter is around two years old. I have been living in Poland from last five years. But, although Poland is beautiful, people are really helpful, but being coming from Asia, I have really hard time learning the Polish language. You go to any European country, there is a new language and it’s really hard to get up to speed.

Ben Henley-Smith (03:11):


Mahesh Chahar (03:14):

My daughter is growing up fast. She is now two years. Soon she will start the education and all. I want to move to an English speaking country. For her also, and for my comfort as well, because sometimes I feel I’m illiterate when I can’t do the translation. So, I have to put my phone on the translator and see, okay, what’s happening, I can’t communicate with the people.

Mahesh Chahar (03:39):

Grand Parade, I was enjoying my work and everything was good. Only thing is, I wanted to move to the UK. And you know what? Grand Parade is part of William Hill. And now, William Hill has come back to me and they have offered me a position in the UK. So, I will be joining William Hill in the UK.

Ben Henley-Smith (03:59):

Crap. Wow. Did you take a different position, and then you’re going to take the counter offer?

Mahesh Chahar (04:06):

Yeah. So, I got the offer from the UK. I told my manager that I have offer from X-Y-Z company in the UK. I even checked with them first. At that time, I think they mentioned… I’m just trying to be honest. They said, “We are going through the sale process and we can’t do the work sponsorship.” But, once I got the offer, they come back to me and they said, “We really need you. And we will help you with the migration to the UK.” Although it’s not good for the other company because when they offered me verbally, I did said, yes, I will be joining. Why not? But now, I know my organization needs me much more than anything, so that’s why I thought it’s…

Ben Henley-Smith (04:56):

How did you navigate that? It’s really difficult, those processes. There are so many people that go through this same experience, where something happens after the point at which they, maybe verbally, accept an offer, something they couldn’t predict. You must have found yourself in a pretty tricky situation yourself, knowing that you then have to go back and say to that company that you’ve said yes to, actually no.

Mahesh Chahar (05:19):

Yeah. Because, on the other side, they come up first and they agree to give me the sponsorship. I got the job and everything. And now I’m saying, okay, my employer agreed. I think this is really bad. I really feel bad when I had to say this. But, literally I didn’t have any other option. I thought if I continue in my current organization, as I will be moving to a new country, I will be in a more comfort zone, because I know in-and-outs and moving to the new country, I think it may take me couple of months to get up to the speed, settling in and all those things. That’s the only reason I considered this company. Otherwise, the company I have accepted the verbal offer, I should have moved there.

Ben Henley-Smith (06:18):

You were saying how the counteroffer process was a tricky one to navigate. It sounds like at every point you’ve optimized for your own definition of what it means for you to do your best work. Whether that’s not going into management, or making sure that there’s a team culture that supports autonomous working in deep work, or whether it’s making sure that your work itself is not affected by all of the changes that are happening around you. It seems like there’s something to me that is optimizing for the same thing there.

Mahesh Chahar (06:54):


Ben Henley-Smith (06:55):

Sounds like you have a razor clear idea of what type of work is rewarding to you. When did you formulate that definition of work success to you?

Mahesh Chahar (07:11):

I think it’s not pre-planning, like I want to have this thing. Now I know I have some baselines. I was in this comfort zone. I need this flexibility. I need financial stability. I’m expecting this much salary because…

Ben Henley-Smith (07:31):


Mahesh Chahar (07:31):

… I already have it. Once you move, move, move, you are on the top of the ladder, then you think, okay, I need at least this. If I get something additional, then I may consider other things, otherwise I’m in a comfort zone.

Ben Henley-Smith (07:45):


Mahesh Chahar (07:46):

I’m growing professionally and I’m happy. It’s good. Everything is going good. The day, either, I stop promoting horizontally, if I feel like I’m not getting enough opportunities, I’m getting stagnant, in that case, yeah, I start looking for other things, either within the organization, but between different teams. Because, let’s say, I already working from the same tech stack from last two years, I feel I don’t have anything to learn or grow myself. Always there are possibilities to learn. But, sometimes you feel there is no personal, or professional growth. At that time, I think, it’s time to either step up myself, take up new challenging position, so that it keeps me busy and happy at the same time.

Ben Henley-Smith (08:46):

How do you identify what areas of personal growth are important to you next? Is it a gut, intuition feeling or is there a different way of working through it? Because it sounds like you’ve made conscious decisions in the past not to go down certain areas of growth because you felt like it’s not in line with what’s right for you. How do you decide what area of professional growth are most important to you?

Mahesh Chahar (09:13):

I would say, 50% gut feeling. Then I do some research because previously I was working as a DevOps engineer and then I step up, moving as a site reliability engineer. If we check Google, these two terminologies are, I think, used interchangeably. But, there is a difference, even in our organization. I just do some research about it. Okay, if I’m stepping up, or if this is the new opportunity, what’s there? How much growth I can expect?

Mahesh Chahar (09:48):

I know I want to be on a management position in next 10 years. And when I say management positions, I’m aiming for positions like CTO, chief technology officer. So, I know I have to be technically strong. Apart from being technically strong, I have to develop my skills in many areas. Then I think, okay, if I move or take this step, is it taking me to that direction, or is it taking me to the another direction? When I get challenging tasks, I have the sense of accomplishment. I enjoy it. And that’s why I feel like I need to grow. I need to learn some thing new. And I keep trying.

Mahesh Chahar (10:38):

Whenever I feel like I don’t have much challenging things, I go for a certification. Either AWS certification, community certification, Linux certification, storage certification. In the last four years, I think I have gone for five or six certification alone.

Ben Henley-Smith (10:56):

Wow. Sounds like there’s this Goldilocks place where you can find a certain amount of challenge that brings with it learning, but not too much challenge, that it is suffocating in some way.

Mahesh Chahar (11:11):

I have been in those situations as well. Luckily, I managed to come out and I was able to solve. But yeah, those challenges can take two, three weeks, even more. And sometimes the organization have capacity to wait, or sometimes they say, okay, you know what? We can live without this feature, so it’s fine, we can skip that. You have other important things to work and let’s focus on those things.

Ben Henley-Smith (11:39):

Yeah. If you could send a message to yourself three or four years ago, and you could share any specific bits of advice about finding work, what would they be?

Mahesh Chahar (11:49):

Four years back, I was trying to switch to the DevOps. For me it was literally, I get any opportunity as a DevOps engineer because I was working more like a storage administrator. I did my best. In that house we had one client with the cloud technologies. I literally did everything to get that project. And once I got assigned to that project, I did literally real hard work.

Mahesh Chahar (12:25):

Four years back, I can’t expect myself to be a DevOps engineer. And now, I do have a aim to be a chief technology officer in next 10 years. But, still my goal is quite blurry. I should have more steps in all those things. Like, within next three years, I will be this, within the next three years, I will be this. And this is what I have learned in the last couple of years. If we keep trying for something, nothing is impossible. We can make it.

Ben Henley-Smith (13:00):

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Mahesh. I can’t wait for you to drop me a message when you’re a CTO in 10 years time. I love the journey that you’ve been on. I’m really grateful you shared it. Thank you.

Mahesh Chahar (13:16):

Thank you so much, Ben. I am really thankful to the cord team, because I was really happy when I joined and when I see the response. Although I can go on the LinkedIn and I can click apply, apply, apply, but I feel I’m wasting a lot of time for me, and for other companies as well. It’s not that easy for navigating through the jobs. I found cord much interesting, and I think a good place to find a job for myself. And that’s why I even recommend it to my friends.

Ben Henley-Smith (13:52):

Love it. I’m so pleased.




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