Counter Offers: 7 Reasons to Just Say “NO”

This blog post is generously provided by Connie Dorigan, president of Dorigan & Associates, a high-tech talent recruiting firm.
Congratulations! You’ve managed to hold on to your job through the “Great Recession” and are feeling fortunate to be employed… and indeed you are. But recently, you started exploring the job market just to see what is out there. Then, lo and behold, you run across a position with a company that is everything you’ve ever wanted…more pay, good management, exciting products, and tons of upside potential. After going through the application and interview process, and after a lot of careful consideration, you have decided to accept the offer.

Building up your courage, on Friday afternoon you walk into your boss’s office to hand in your resignation. You explain the opportunity is too good to pass up, and announce your departure date.

What happens next is something you are completely unprepared for: Your boss presents a counter offer, which means that they really want to keep you. From the boss’ response, it is clear that they had no idea you were looking. (Really? Hadn’t they noticed that your wardrobe had suddenly improved and you were taking longer lunches fairly frequently?) The offer includes more money, a newer computer, an extra week of vacation… if you’ll just reconsider.

Confusion sets in, and you start mulling it over…. Maybe the your current work situation isn’t so bad after all. You wouldn’t have to prove yourself at the new company, nor have to learn how to navigate around their corporate culture. Plus, you’d earn more money for doing exactly what you’ve been doing all along.

But… STOP! 7 Reasons to Just Say “NO”!

This kind of emotional thinking could be very dangerous to your career.

Consider what’s really driving your employer’s response…

1.) Your decision was made long ago, when you first decided to look for a new job. Something motivated you to look. What was it? Whatever the reason was, that reason still exists. Staying with your current position will only prolong the inevitable.

2.) If your employer was sincere about retaining you, they would have taken steps to keep you long before you handed in your resignation. Likely you’ve been unhappy for quite some time. Why did you have to threaten to resign before someone noticed?

3.) Fear is the number one reason an employer makes a counter offer, the fear of having to re-hire and re-train your replacement. It will take effort and a minimum of six to eight weeks to find your replacement, and there are no guarantees that your replacement will work out. You’re a proven commodity; your replacement is not.

4.) Replacing you is risky business. Your boss will do or say what ever it takes to minimize the risk, until it suits them to do otherwise. Consider what’s in your best interest.

5.) Accepting a counter offer can be hazardous to your career and your character. Although, it might seem unfair, some might believe you can be bought, you are indecisive, and /or could walk out at the most inopportune times.

6.) Accepting a counter offer, while reasonable enough, can send a ripple through the team. The relationships that you now enjoy with your co-workers may never be the same. The news of your interviews and decision to stay will eventually leak out. Peers will wonder if they can count on you, and may resent that you have one more week of paid vacation, or a new computer. Think about it: they could start assuming that you possibly got the part of the budget that was supposed to be their raise.

7.) According to the Wall Street Journal, in more than 90 percent of the cases where people accept counter offers, they end up fired, laid-off, or at least looking for a new job within six to twelve months.

Making a clean professional exit
The best way to avoid a counter offeris to state that after much deliberation, your decision is final. That’s it. Incorporate your decision into your letter of resignation as well as verbalizing it to your manager. No need to be unpleasant. Deliver the news and reiterate that you will do what ever it takes to make the transition easy for them. Putting the focus on them and away from you will allow them to process your resignation and move forward more easily.

Congratulations for making the effort and taking the risk to grow, personally and professionally.