Let’s say that you just accepted a new position and gave your notice. Then suddenly, your current employer makes you a counteroffer to encourage you to stay. Why does this happen? Quite simply, it is easier for the boss to present a counteroffer than it is to start a time-consuming search to replace you. A counteroffer isn’t about what’s best for you; it’s about what’s best for the boss.
While you might initially be flattered by the counteroffer, take the time to think it through. If you were such a valued team player, then why did you have to look to the outside for career choices in the first place? In the end, your gut instinct probably served you well, and now you are faced with making a decision – to stay or to go.
Naturally, the question you need to answer is this: if you were not feeling the love in the first place, then why would you consider staying? Counteroffers are about your boss/company being inconvenienced with having to find a replacement. Are you a person of your word (as in going through with the new position you just accepted) or someone highly influenced by others (as in being easily sidetracked by a counteroffer)?
Here are key points to think about if you receive a counteroffer:
- In fields where talent is at a premium, counteroffers are a retention tactic.
- It is just a matter of time before you will leave, anyway. The true nature of your dissatisfaction with the job/company will still exist. It will just be a bit more tolerable with more money or promises for the future.
- Generally, respectable companies do not make counteroffers. They allow the candidate to move on with good references and best wishes for a successful future.
- Counteroffers are generally made by weaker employers that only value talent when they are losing it.
- When you resign, the best boss, your true mentor will say: “I wish you the best, want to remain close to you. If I can help you in the future, I want you to know I will be there for you. It was a pleasure working with you.”
- The worst boss will say or think: “But what about me? You are going to work for who? I am really shocked. I thought you were better than that. I put so much trust in you and you let me down.” They will play the guilt card while seeking to minimize their exposure finding a replacement.
- Don’t leave the door open for a counteroffer conversation.
- Working for an employer is rarely meant to be a lifetime experience. Remember that you can be let go without notice as easily as you can leave with a professional two weeks of notice.
- Your loyalty will forever be questioned.
- Most employees who accept counteroffers leave within six to 12 months.
Most importantly: don’t be flattered. Counteroffers have nothing to do with you. They only benefit your current employer. Before accepting a counteroffer, consider whether you’ll be the winner or the loser in this employment maneuver. You are the commodity and your skills are what you have to sell. So if you or your skills were not completely appreciated in the first go-around, why would a counteroffer change the facts/events/feelings?
Take an active part in your own career management. If your company was interested in your progression, you would have known it before you resigned. If you change your mind and stay, your motives and methods will always be suspect. Keep a steady course and don’t look back.
Submit a courteous, positive and final resignation letter that leaves no room for discussion. By behaving honorably, you may have the option of re-employment with the company or joining a former boss elsewhere later on. You’ll also have the chance to start a promising new role with additional challenges, an expanded network, an untarnished reputation and a clear conscience.