The Counter Offer Dilemma

It happens more often than you might imagine.

You’ve made the big decision to leave your job and found a great new opportunity that better matches your life requirements or career goals.

You schedule time with your boss to hand your notice in and, low and behold, your boss throws a curve ball – strokes your ego with flattery, offers you some grandiose empty promises and a pay rise to stay.

If you’re not expecting it, a counter offer can put you off balance and under pressure, and there is always the risk of making a rash decision on the spur of the moment without having rationalised what’s right for you.

There are all sorts of reasons why you might decide to change jobs, but it is very rarely done on a whim. If you felt that your employer could have changed your job in some way to better match your needs and wants, then you would have already negotiated these with them.

Negotiation over the terms and scope of a job should never need your notice to be used as the final roll of the dice to leverage the changes you’re looking for. If your requests are reasonable, rational and justified, then it is simply a question of whether or not your employer values and respects you as an important asset to the business.

Before you hand your notice in, make sure you remind yourself exactly why you want to leave and be prepared to handle a potential counter offer situation by asking yourself the following:

• Do you really want to stay in an environment that you had already decided wasn’t right for you?

• Is the counter offer going to change your fundamental reasons for leaving?

• If your employer could have changed your job to make it right for you (money, flexibility, responsibility, challenge, personal development, benefits etc.), why did it take your resignation for them to take your requests seriously? What does this say about your working relationship and how they respect and treat you?

• Will you and your employer ever be able to trust each other again? Will your employer hold a grudge against you for looking elsewhere and question your loyalty and commitment?

• What is their motivation for trying to counter offer you? Is it related to the cost and time saving associated with not having to replace you unexpectedly? Do they suddenly value you more today than they did yesterday?

• Will you regret the missed opportunity of seeing where the other job would have taken you and how you and your career would have developed?

If you have rationalised what’s best for you and honestly feel that the employer’s counter offer is a genuine attempt to match your life requirements and career aspirations and you’ve decided to accept, make sure you get everything agreed in writing.

In my experience, most people who accept counter offers end up leaving the company within 6 months and regret missing out on the opportunity they were offered elsewhere.

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