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Counteroffers: Knowing When its Time to Go

Young head looking at positive negative signs

Imagine this scenario: After becoming discontent with your current job, you find a new one that will be more interesting and more challenging. You inform your employer that you are leaving, submit your formal resignation, and plan to start your new job. Then out of the blue comes something you never expected – a Counteroffer, an enticing incentive to persuade you to stay. So what do you do?  Everyone receives counteroffers and some people are unaware of the statistics and pitfalls. Following are some questions to ponder when you are facing a counteroffer dilemma.

Why do I want to leave this job?

First, remember that dissatisfaction with your current employment spurs many people to look for employment elsewhere. This could be caused by unstable working conditions, a salary that is too low, uncooperative co-workers, lack of opportunity for personal development, little chance of advancement, or any combination of these factors. When tempted with an incentive to stay, remind yourself of these things.

Why will the new job be better?

Another big factor in leaving a position is finding a something better. The idea of ‘better’ could be any number of things – better pay, better hours, better flexibility, or better chances for growth and advancement. When the counteroffer comes, make sure that you hold on to these original reasons for wanting to move on.

Why would my employer make a counteroffer?  Do they really want me to stay?

It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of leaving an organization and let’s face it, it is flattering to feel like you are so valuable that your manager offers you something to stay. But you must ask yourself,  “Why are they suddenly so interested in me now?”, even though they may not have done much to assist you or encourage you in the past. To be blunt, if your current employer can get you to stay, they will have to do less work. Your imminent departure means they are now forced to search for your replacement. At this point it is much easier to try to keep you, if only for a short time.   Knowing all of this, a counteroffer can feel more like coercion than a genuine offer.

What are some reasons NOT to accept the counteroffer?

With the counteroffer on the table, the ball is in your court. You have the advantage and may feel like you’re in control of your destiny. However, try not to get carried away too quickly. Below are some solid reasons why you should not accept a counteroffer:

  • The reasons that you want to leave this job will not disappear if you accept their counteroffer. Neither money nor promotions nor other incentives will make them go away.
  • Accepting the counteroffer means saying ‘no’ to the new opportunity and possibly burning bridges with that company for the foreseeable future.
  • According to NEA (the National Employment Association) statistics, approximately 80% of workers who accept counteroffers last no longer than 6 additional months at that job. The odds are high that your time at this company is nearing its end regardless.
  • You are now a flight risk. You tried to leave once, and you may do it again. The counteroffer is likely an attempt to buy time while they search for another candidate to fill your position.
  • Your loyalty to the company is now suspect, so your employer may not feel that they can trust you. No one wants to be branded as being disloyal.
  • If the budget gets tight in the near future and your employer remembers that you were willing to leave, you could find yourself at the top of a short list of employees to be let go.

Staying or Starting Over

Starting a new job can be a bit scary and it’s often easier to stay where you are. While staying where you are may seem like the easiest course to take, weigh all of the pros and cons for both opportunities so that you can make an informed choice. Most people won’t even consider leaving a position that they are 100% happy with, so if you find yourself searching and even interviewing  you likely already have one foot out the door.  Don’t let yourself be coerced into a decision; make the choice that you feel is best, not one that feels forced upon you.


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