Counteroffers & Control

Congratulations! You have landed and accepted a new job at a great company that you are excited to work for. However that also comes with resigning from your current employer. Read here for The Only Way to Resign.

You have told your current employer you are leaving and they propose a counter offer and urge you to stay. While this may feel flattering at first, career experts advise against accepting for numerous reasons. Your loyalty will forever be in question, your relationships with co-workers may deteriorate, and chances are, the reasons why you wanted to leave will remain. Employees who accept counteroffers are likely to resign or be let go within the next 6-24 months. Counteroffers are typically a short-term fix for a long-term problem.

Before responding to a counteroffer, carefully consider your reasons for leaving, what it would be like if you stayed, and your career projection:

  • Was the salary not high enough? Did you try to negotiate earlier on?
  • Is the work not exciting anymore? Will it change if you stay? How else will your work be affected?
  • Did your employer not value you enough? Will you be valued more or less if you accept a counteroffer?
  • If you accept, how much longer would you remain at your current company?

Companies offer counteroffers because it is cheaper to retain an employee than to pay for hiring, training, and setup costs and it is easier to avoid worker disruptions. Some companies use counteroffers to buy time to look for replacements. Additionaly, accepting counteroffers reflect poorly on the employee, especially to future potential employers. Overall, the counteroffer is unlikely worth all of the problems and uncertainty that come with staying.

Rejecting a counteroffer may feel more difficult than the original resignation. It is best to remain polite and professional. Do not disclose your salary or company. Depending on the company, it may be helpful to delay the response a day or two so you do not appear too eager to leave and to show that your decision has been thought out. You can offer to even assist in the transition, but keep it brief. Most importantly, make your decision unchangeable.

Here is an example of how to respond:

“I have considered your counteroffer carefully and appreciate it greatly. However, I have already accepted a new position and would find it unprofessional and irresponsible to go back on my word. I have arranged some notes to assist in the transition. Thank you.”

Counteroffers may be tempting, but keep in mind that staying at a firm you want to leave is delaying the inevitable. Right now you are in control. Instead of wasting time, get excited to start at your new job, meet new people, learn new skills, and see where your career grows.

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