Top 10 Reasons to Never Accept a Counteroffer

You have investigated new opportunities, interviewed with your competitors, and finally found a new position that seems promising. After all this work, you have accepted a new opportunity, negotiated a nice compensation package, and are finally ready to turn in your resignation, and your boss asks you to stay.

He might say something like this:

“I can’t believe you are thinking about leaving. I never knew you were unhappy! Why didn’t you say something? I can and will fix this, you stay put, and I’ll be back to you in a few days about what I can do for you.”

“I have been meaning to tell you about a new position we are working on, you are my top choice for it, but I didn’t want to say anything until we get a few internal pieces of the puzzle worked out. I just need you to hold on for another quarter, you’ll see…”

papers flying out of frustration

What he’s really thinking is this:

“I can’t lose another person on my team. My boss just gave me a lecture last week about making sure my voluntary turnover stays low.”

“Maybe I can buy some time and keep him on until I hire another rep so the territory doesn’t stay open for too long.”

“I don’t need another opening I can’t fill right now.”

When you quit, you are firing your boss. You are essentially saying, “I am unhappy and I have found something better.” Bosses find this difficult to bear, and they know you, so they know what to say to try and keep you around, even if it isn’t in your best interest.

Your boss will come back with a new proposal which may include: a pay raise, some type of promotion now or in the immediate future; a new opportunity, better territory, special commission plan, discretionary bonus, or some creative way to make you happy.  You may also receive recognition, praise, and attention--VIP visits from high-ranking executives along with other flattering commentary and ego stroking is par for the course.

Awash with the emotional drain of resigning, guilt for “quitting,” and the self-doubt that creeps in when forging into unknown territory…it’s easy to see why you may be susceptible to staying put.

Considering Staying? Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Get Back to Cleaning Out Your Desk

1.      More is Only Temporary--They had their chance to give you what you needed, it’s too late to come up with more money, more opportunity, more etc… Your current company would have already given those things to you if it was in the budget, compensation structure, or they valued your contribution.  You may be given a raise now, only to be fired later.

2.      Why Quit to Get?--Ask yourself if you want to work for a company where you have to threaten to quit and go through an exhaustive interview process with other companies in order to get what you want?

3.      Leaving so Soon? --If you put in your notice, and signed an offer with another company, there is an 80% chance you’ll be looking for another job in six months; twelve months if you suffer well.

4.      Quitting Takes a Series of Small Steps --If things were so great at your current company, why would you start and finish a job search? There were many steps along the way that led you to the moment of truth—signing and accepting an offer with another organization. There was plenty of time along the way to back out. You made it all the way to the resignation table, so trust your judgement. Giving notice is a professional courtesy; the decision was final when you accepted the new employer’s offer.

5.      Got Loyalty?--Accepting a counteroffer means you run the risk of being fired once they find your replacement. Your loyalty will be questioned and you may not be considered the next time a plum opportunity surfaces because you were just given a raise. 

6.      Tarnished Relationships--If your coworkers find out you accepted a counteroffer, your relationship with them could change for the worse. They may see you as a short-timer or someone who received an undeserved raise because you gave your employer an ultimatum. You become the person who got a better deal for quitting; your co-workers won’t see this as a justifiable way to get an increase.

7.      Ripple Effect--Staying with your current employer will affect everyone who interviewed for the job you accepted. Chances are you have taken the role away from someone who was an outstanding second choice. Since there is only one vacancy, other interviewers lost out on the new opportunity. They were told the position was filled, and they moved on with their job search. If you would have initially turned down the offer, it could have been extended to someone else in process.

8.      Lost Time and Reputation Management--What about the new employer? If you accept a counteroffer, they have to start the search over again. The people involved in your interview process are left to put the pieces back together and restart the search. This never looks good for the people involved in the process, or for the company who has an opening which goes unfilled for an extended period of time.

 9.      Relief then Regret--If you accept a counteroffer, you will feel a great sense of relief because the inner conflict and turmoil that considering a counteroffer creates is finally over. Unfortunately, the relief is ephemeral. The pain of regret quickly ensues and you come to realize that nothing has really changed. Whatever you gained in the counteroffer eventually pales in comparison to what you have to endure on a daily basis.

 10.  Doubt—Counteroffers cause you to doubt your decision making skills. This can chip away at your self-confidence, and keep you stuck in a job that no longer serves you.

 When you are faced with a counteroffer, the easiest way to refuse it is to keep repeating to your employer with conviction, “Thank you, but my decision is final.” Avoid discussing the details of the new opportunity, and keep the conversation positive. Do not fall into the trap of discussing grievances or giving any impression that you can be swayed to stay.  

 Remember to trust your decision making abilities. Getting to the point of resignation requires a series of choices over time; those choices were made by you, with your career interests in mind, not your employers. Trust yourself, and stay focused on the opportunity that lies ahead.