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Candidate Help & Advice

When You Should Say YES! to the Counteroffer

New Contract photo from ShutterstockYou have been on the interviews, the hiring company has done its due diligence on you, you have done your due diligence on the company… and the job offer is made!

You like what you see in the offer, you have discussed it with your family and friends and you accept. Over the next week or so you schedule your drug test and your new company does the background check. Everything comes back “clean” and you are given the green light.

You now take a deep breath and go in to resign.

• 10% of the time, your boss will say, “Congratulations. We hate to lose you but wish you the best.”
• 10% of the time you’ll be ostracized: “Go on, get out of here. How can you do that after all we have done for you?”
• 80% of the time you will be hit by your boss with something like, “You haven’t told anyone yet have you?” “No,” you reply. “Good,” your current boss says, “then don’t yet. I will get back to you shortly.”

Later that day or the next your boss tells you, “You have a lot of promise here. You have a future. You have worked too hard to let it go now. Your next promotion is just right around the corner. Your next pay raise is right around the corner.” OR, you may be told, “We hadn’t announced it yet, but you are scheduled for a promotion (and/or pay raise) at the end of the month.”

What is happening here? The company realizes they can’t lose you–TODAY! They need to keep you until they can find your replacement. In other words, 80% of the time that you are made a counteroffer, it is because the company wants you to leave on its terms, not on yours. They need to keep you, but only temporarily. The counteroffer is for the company’s convenience, not yours.

At this point you really should ask yourself why you were looking in the first place. As a “headhunter” who is in the job marketplace each and every business day, I have found the following to be the TOP reasons why professionals like you are open to new opportunities:

• Better work/life balance
• Better opportunities for career advancement
• Work that is more challenging or the opportunity for more authority/responsibility
Better fit (skill sets, culture, boss, etc.)
Geographic locale reasons
• Increased compensation

So what is going to change if you stay? Anything? You see, the only time you should seriously consider accepting a counteroffer is if it is what I call a “scouting counteroffer.”

The Army has a unit called the Scout Platoon. The purpose of this platoon is to be out front to gather information and conduct reconnaissance on the lay of the land, the situation, etc. So a “scouting counteroffer” is when you go to your boss, have a sit down, analyze the lay of the land and see what, if anything, can be changed to improve your situation. This is done, however, before you ever go on the first job interview because once you threaten to quit, you will forever be branded a “traitor” and your loyalty will always be in question.

If you have a professional discussion with your company and boss and things are changed, you are working for a company that truly respects you and wants to keep you. If things don’t change, then it is truly time to move on and accepting a counteroffer after you resign is like dancing in a mine field.

Even if you, the boss and the company work things out, you still might consider asking this one additional question: Why did you have to resign to get the things done you needed to get done?” (Increased pay, increased responsibility, great challenge, etc.)

So, the only time to say YES to a counteroffer is when it is a “scouting counteroffer.”

Never say YES to the “resignation counteroffer.” Remember, once trust is broken, rarely, if ever, can it be restored. Your loyalty quite likely will always be in question as long as you stay with your current company, and your professional brand can easily be irrevocably tarnished.


This blog is a condensed and modified version of job-hunting information featured in Skip’s next book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets Series of Career Development/Management Publications, Career Stalled? How to Get YOUR Career Back in HIGH Gear and the Land The Job You Deserve–Your DREAM JOB! Publication is scheduled for early fall 2014.

Going on a job interview soon (or know someone who is)? Download Skip’s FREE publication entitled, How to ACE the Job Interview!by clicking here.