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Responding to Counteroffers

Whew! You’ve done it … the resignation is behind you. While you may have expected that a counteroffer would be extended, you probably did not anticipate feeling so flattered by it. It is also possible that you’re even feeling a twinge of guilt. If you are feeling either of these things, it is quite natural and part of human nature. First things first, set your emotions aside and approach the situation objectively. 

In doing so, you will need to consider the following:
  • What were your reasons for initially deciding to explore other opportunities? Although counteroffers typically involve an increase in compensation, it is rare that compensation alone motivates people to make a career change. Chances are that the same motivators you had for seeking another position will exist in the future. They are just more tolerable in the short term because you are basking in the glow of feeling appreciated and getting paid more.
  • If you represent such value to your current employer, why was that value not recognized prior to you tendering your resignation? Generally, employers are caught off guard when someone resigns. Often the counteroffer is extended as a stall tactic to provide them with the time they need to find your replacement, on their terms and when they are better prepared.
  • Should you decide to accept the counteroffer, will your loyalty always be in question? The plain and simple answer to this question is “yes”. By resigning, you have demonstrated that you are no longer “on the team” and should you stay, you will be treated accordingly.
  • By accepting a counteroffer, you will be breaking your commitment to the prospective employer whose offer you have accepted. The prospective employer considered your candidacy in good faith with the expectation that you were a serious candidate. Accepting a counteroffer will most likely close the door for future consideration by them as they will regard you as unprofessional and unethical.

In essence, accepting a counteroffer is tantamount to career suicide. Statistically, the odds of benefiting from accepting a counteroffer are akin to the chances of being struck by lightning. You do not have to take our word on the subject. Plenty of research has been done and much has been written about it. By all means, exercise your due diligence and research the topic should you find yourself tempted by a counteroffer.

So, how do you respond? Just as you tendered your resignation, you respond with professionalism and grace. You politely tell your employer that your decision to resign is firm. You wish them well and look forward to the rewarding opportunity awaiting you with your new employer.


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