Should You Take a Counteroffer?

Okay; so you’ve just accepted an offer to go work for a new company, and now it’s time to go tell your manager that you quit.

You’re all set, you prepare a little speech, put together a resignation letter and get ready to resign. You go to your boss who then tells you, “please stay.” The company then offers you more money, a promise of a promotion, extended vacation, etc.

What to do? On the one hand, you are excited about this new opportunity, and are eager to go somewhere new and different and grow. On the other hand, you are used to the way things are at your current company, and know your way around. Staying might be easier, and besides, you’re getting something for staying.

This happens all the time. Everyday. So, what should you do? How should you handle this?

First of all, always be prepared for something like this. If you are a good employee, work hard, are well liked or are doing something unique that is hard to replace, expect that the company will try to hang on to you.

Remember, it’s not necessarily a testament to how great you are, and it’s not even really a compliment to you. The company wants to keep you for their own interests. Not yours. It’s easier for them to hang on to you than to start recruiting, interviewing, finding someone else, then training that new person. It’s easier for them to give you something to make you stay.

Here’s why you should never accept a counteroffer:

You got a raise only because you quit
If you were so valuable before giving notice, why didn’t anybody offer you more money then? Why did it take giving notice to get noticed?

The reasons why you were looking haven’t changed
We all look for new things when things aren’t satisfactory in our current situation, and staying in the same place won’t necessarily make the changes you need.

Your relationship with your boss has changed
It’s not the same anymore; you are only given things now that you needed before, but it took quitting to get it. There will always be some lingering resentment and suspicion. It’s like getting back together in a relationship after breaking up; it sometimes takes a long time to regain the trust that you took for granted in your relationship.

You’re not so secure anymore
Take a long lunch, leave early, go to the dentist, someone will be thinking that you are out interviewing again. Your boss has long closed door meetings, or people you haven’t seen before are showing up for meetings at the office, your boss is probably trying to find a replacement in case you try to leave again. What if they find someone better and cheaper? You’re probably then on your way out.

You’re probably going to leave anyway within the next 6-12 months
It usually happens this way, and based upon my experience, very few people stay, because the promises they were given, either never came to be, or the reasons that prompted you to look never changed.

You accepted another position
You gave your word to a new company that you were going to join them. It’s about integrity and personal conscience, and the guilt you will probably feel will gnaw at you for a long time. Also, burning bridges is not always a good thing. The person you turned down after accepting the offer may cross paths with you again in your career, especially if you are young and just getting started. If you inconvenienced them, they won’t forget.

Of course, sometimes there are always some reasons why you should stay, but most of the time, it’s much better to move and grow elsewhere. Your career path will thank you for that.