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How to handle a job counter-offer

Congratulations. You’ve been offered another job. Now it’s time to hand in your resignation. You might receive a warm handshake followed by a farewell lunch. Or you might receive a job counter-offer.
 
Our clients experience lots of different counter-offer situations and we understand how tempting they can be. We also know the consequences of accepting one without very carefully and thoroughly thinking it through.
 
There’s a lot to consider; pros and cons to weigh up. But 99% of the time, declining is still the best way forward.
 

Pros

 
Better the devil you know. It’s natural to be wary of new things and comfortable with the status quo. You might be able to change things. Your boss might act on your reasons for leaving. But they might not and it’s hard to get that in writing.
 

Cons

 
There are a lot of cons to accepting a counter-offer. These are a few of the most common negatives to staying, cropping up at all levels, industries and sectors.
 
  • Mistrust - you’re perceived as disloyal by management. You may no longer be seen as a team player and as someone not to be trusted with ‘special’ projects and especially clients, new and old.
     
  • Your days are numbered - seeing as you were willing to leave before, should a restructure or round of redundancies hit your team, you may be the first on the list to go.
     
  • Money for nothing - if the company is paying you more, chances are they’re going to expect you to take on more work and longer hours. The change in your responsibilities could be quite dramatic.
     
  • Unresolved issues - if your reason for leaving wasn’t financial, then that reason will still be there. Most people who accept counter-offers find themselves looking for a new job again a few months later.
     
  • Colleague relations - if word gets out that you got a counter-offer to stay, it may breed resentment among your co-workers. No matter how close you are with your colleagues, it will still have an impact.
 

Why does your employer really want you to stay?

 
Whatever reason your employer gives you, it will be almost definitely be selfish, even if it’s flattering. “You’re the best person for this job” might mean that you are the most productive, or it might mean that your team is happier and more motivated with you there. That’s nice to hear, but it’s still not about you and your career needs.
 

Stay strong

 
Use your resignation as an opportunity to thank your employer for the offer and reiterate that while you enjoyed your time with the organisation, you’re committed to leaving. Don’t burn bridges – this is not the time to voice your grievances.
 
The counter-offer situation can be a tricky one to handle, so if you’re unsure speak to your Michael Page consultant for more advice on how to proceed.