How (and Why) You Shouldn’t Take a Counter Offer
By Kylee McIntyre26-Sep-2017Views 4428

Counter offer

You've had it up to here with your relationship. Bae doesn't text you back, regularly flakes on plans, and bails on you when you're in some serious need of emotional support. You're seeing each other less and less, and while you cancel things on your schedule to make time for your partner, you notice that your significant other won't necessarily do the same for you. It's frustrating. You've talked about this over and over, but nothing seems to change. You slowly move the things in the drawer at Bae's back to your place - which goes unnoticed, of course - and finally find the nerve to sit down and say it's over.

To your surprise and confusion, you're met with sadness. “I can fix it," your partner promises. “Give me another chance." Do you take your significant other back? Maybe you do, but you've seen this happen with friends before. The couple gets back together. They work on things, maybe. But how do you know that the same issues aren't going to come up again, putting you right back where you started?

With that in mind, let's talk about counter offers.

If you don't want one, don't get one

First, the best way to deal with a counter offer is to never get one. You're already causing a stir by leaving your job - you don't want to put your current employer in a position where he or she offers something and you turn it down. It helps save face for both of you, as well as your future employer.

Preventing a counter offer may sound a little bit out of your control, there are things you can do to make sure that you tender your resignation cleanly and respectfully. This involves a little bit of self-examination: do you truly want and intend to accept your new offer, and are you prepared to turn down a counter offer if you receive one? Having this in place will help if you do receive a counter offer.

Keep your resignation short and to the point - the process shouldn't take more than five minutes. Present your resignation letter, and mention that you're leaving your job and that today will start your notice period. Thank your employer for the opportunities you've been given, and assure him or her that your job performance won't suffer during the notice period - you'll perform a proper handover and help the transition go smoothly. Finally, mention that this is your final decision.

Also, make sure that you're serving the proper notice period laid out in your contract. Even if you and your work weren't on the best of terms, you're going to want to preserve this relationship with your supervisor; the tech community is a small one, and you might need that connection for the future.

Focus on what you want and need

Chances are, your resignation is going to come as a surprise, and your boss may react emotionally and ask why. You don't have to reveal details about your new job or new offer, but recognize that this is a tactic for seeing what you're leaving for - and possibly how your current company can give it to you.

Avoid doling out blame, and if you have to give reasons, keep them focused on yourself. Point out that you're leaving for things that the company cannot offer you. For example, leaving to work in a new industry or for a lifestyle change are things that aren't as easily solved with a new contract.

Sometimes, though, despite doing all of those things, your boss gives you a counter offer anyway.

Why are you leaving?

So, you've sat your boss down and given him or her your resignation, only to be hit with an incentive to stay. Now what?

You know your situation better than anyone. Don't let your boss or a convincingly-worded blog post tell you how to run your career. But take responsibility to take care of yourself and your life. Maybe you're really attached to your job and the people there. Maybe you've only been there a few months and have felt like you've had enough. Either way, something made you go out and search for other employers.

Look at all the problems my counter offer doesn't solve. via GIPHY

Whether it was a casual passive search that turned up a position that caught your eye or you were desperately squeezing in applications over your lunch break, keep in mind why you wanted to leave in the first place. Is this counter offer really going to fix that problem? That depends on the problem. A money issue is more easily solved than a culture fit.

Why does it have to take a counter offer to fix it?

So, maybe you've pinpointed the problem, and the extent to which a counter offer would fix it. What you have to ask yourself now is why the problem can only be fixed with a counter offer. Why hadn't you solved it before? There are two probable reasons for this: either you asked for what you wanted and didn't get it at the time, or you didn't feel like your workplace was an environment in which you felt comfortable enough to ask your boss for whatever was bothering you. For some reason, you decided it was more beneficial for you to search for a whole other job.

With offers in front of you, it may be easy to forget the amount of time and energy you put into securing your new offer. Don't discount the amount of work you've put in. If it's taken your resignation for your company to turn around and give you what you want, that's probably not a place where you want to be.

What would be left for you if you returned?

Consider now that you've admitted to your boss that you are unhappy enough in your position to leave. That's hard to forget and may end up factoring into future decisions made at work - decision that might not benefit you.

By leaving, you're giving the company more work to do - depending on your position, it might cost more to find someone to replace you than it does to give you whatever you want at the moment and worry about you later. Keep your attention on what is most beneficial to you - appeals to your emotions (“You're such an integral part of this team." “We'd really hate to see you go.") aren't what you should be concerned with right now.

Also, consider the atmosphere you'd step back into if you stayed. Your supervisor already knows that you were unhappy enough to quit. It may drive a wedge into your relationship. And, if the company runs into problems a few months down the line and you're still there, who would you boss rather lay off - someone who's always shown commitment or someone who was ready to jump ship just a few months before?

By admitting you want to leave - and already have something lined up - you've already crossed a few lines. It's hard to come back from that.

How big of a risk are you taking by staying?

This is the best question to ask yourself, after you ask (and remind) yourself why you're leaving. By accepting a counter offer, you're taking a lot of things on faith. You're assuming that the counter offer will fix the problems you had before and that wanting to leave is enough to make your workplace give you what you've been lacking. You're also taking it for granted that you'll come to no consequences - conscious or unconscious - for revealing that you want to leave.

You're also making a decision: the time and energy you spent finding yourself a new position somewhere else are still worth you staying where you are.

Starting a new position somewhere can also be a leap of faith - candidates don't know everything about a job before they jump in. So weigh that risk against the risks you come against when you stay.

You already have an offer on the table. Maybe the time for a clean breakup with your previous job is now.

Changing jobs is tough, but staying in an unfulfilling position is even harder. If you give 100offer a try, you can upload your CV and access jobs with employers like Garena, Go-Jek, and Canva that will apply to you. You'll also get one-on-one coaching from our talent consultant who will talk you through the interview, offer negotiation, and even help you navigate leaving your old job.


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Kylee McIntyre
American tech, science, health, and environmental writer. Lover of scifi, fantasy, travel, and coffee. Find her on Twitter @ejkyleem.
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