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Never Accept a Counter Offer


So, the dream job has materialised.  After the process of applications and rounds of interviews, the offer has been made and all you have to do is hand in your letter of resignation to your current employer.

What seemed so clear cut becomes less so when your employer makes a counter offer in a bid to keep you.  Apart from the obvious ‘should I stay or should I go’ dilemma, there are a number of other considerations and the wise employee will view the counter offer from a number of perspectives.

Firstly, you may well be ‘indispensable’, but employees also need to be aware that, for example, they may be needed to complete a project; that it’s expensive and time-consuming to source a replacement, or that recruitment budgetary constraints may apply. 

However flattering a counter offer may be, it’s important to remember the reasons why you sought a new position in the first place.   If your goal was promotion and career enhancement, why has your existing company waited until you offer your resignation to give them to you.

Accepting a pay rise by way of a counter offer will only label you as ‘disloyal’ for having the temerity to look elsewhere and the company will be expecting you to make another bid for freedom in the near future. This can only have a negative impact on your relationships, both in your own team and at higher levels as statistics show that those who accept counter offers usually leave within the next 12 months.

Companies that don’t make counter offers are secure in their policies of fairness and equality; they make a point of not making counter offers, or allowing themselves to be coerced in that way.  They also know that employees who have decided to leave, then been persuaded to stay will never be perceived in the same way again, either with their colleagues or the management team.

There’s also the question of your career.  Accepting a counter offer has been widely regarded as career suicide; the reasons for you wanting to leave will still be there (although they may be temporarily hidden by the whirl of activity around the counter offer) and the new role which offered your next step will have been filled by someone else.

From the ‘new’ employers point of view, accepting a counter offer is seen as unprofessional and unethical — and you never know when you may cross paths again.   They have invested time and effort in recruiting you and have now been left hanging.

A resignation in writing will eliminate any misunderstandings. All that’s needed is a brief and clear statement, expressing thanks for the professional association and give a leaving date as well as offering help to ensure a smooth transition for your successor.

Thinking carefully through the reasons behind a counter offer will ensure that you leave with your professionalism and integrity intact. 

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