February 4, 2019

Prepare Yourself for a Counteroffer, But Never Accept It

Over 15 years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Never Accept a Counteroffer.”  Today, I sit down to write a very similar article.  Many things have changed over the years.  Technology has changed.  The job search process has changed.  We have all gotten older and wiser.  One thing hasn’t changed, however.  My advice to Never Accept a Counteroffer still stands firm.

The job market landscape continues to be a candidate-driven market, meaning candidates are in high-demand and companies who are hiring are working hard on attracting the right candidates to join them.  The US Unemployment rate as of November 2018 was 3.7%, the lowest rate since October 1969. (https://www.thebalance.com/current-u-s-unemployment-rate-statistics-and-news-3305733)

Not only are companies working hard to attract new employees, but they are also working hard to make sure they don’t lose you - the great employee they already have.  Reasons you might look for a new job could include:

  • More money
  • More flexibility
  • Better/different training
  • Challenges with coworkers/boss
  • Company culture
  • Better commute
  • Better benefits
  • Different responsibilities
  • Career growth

Before you decide to start to look for a new job, it is important to have the right conversations with your current boss/employer to make sure there is not a potential to better your current situation.  You might not know about a great project coming your way that would interest you – or that a raise has been planned and is right around the corner.  Also, if your employer doesn’t know you are unhappy with your circumstance, they can’t do anything to change it.  However, if you determine it can’t be fixed, you owe it to yourself and your career to understand what opportunities are available elsewhere.

The step to start to look for a new job, especially in this job market, is a big one.   Understanding the emotionality of going on an interview at another company makes you really think about what you don’t like about your current job or current employer.  With the current job market as active as it is, the interviewing and offer process for mid-level high-demand talent could be as short as 3 weeks – so hold onto your hat!

Receiving an offer from a new company and making the decision to accept that offer can be very exciting and for some, can be a very challenging process full of pros and cons. If you decide to accept a new job offer, prepare yourself to give your notice as well as to receive a counteroffer.

Preparing to give your notice is as important as preparing for an interview and can be an emotional process, especially if you have personal relationship with your coworkers or boss.  Follow the following steps:

  • Draft a respectful resignation letter, thanking your employer/boss for the opportunity to work for him/her.
  • Specify your last date of employment (always give a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice) and offer to assist with a transition plan.
  • Provide your contact information so they know how to get in touch should they have questions after you are gone.

This will provide a great amount of goodwill through your notice time and will also allow your employer to have a positive impression of you during your last two weeks.  Remind yourself that you made this decision after a lot of thought and this is an exciting time!

Here are some comments we have heard over the years from our candidates (this is what their bosses said when they gave notice….):

  • “This couldn’t be happening at a worse time.” (is there really a good time?)
  • “I thought you were really happy here. Let me see what we can do for a raise and don’t make any decisions until we connect again.” (as if you hadn’t made your decision already)
  • “You are going to work for who? Oh wow. I haven’t heard great things. Have you done your due diligence?” (casting doubt on your decision)
  • My personal favorite (because it was said directly to me): “I am not impressed.You qualify for a much better job than that one.”

It is important to remind yourself the reasons you began to look for a job in the first place and to be careful not to feel bad for accepting a new opportunity.  Counteroffers will mitigate the company’s initial shock of losing a great employee, but most often will not provide the long-term solution you are looking for.  The same circumstances that caused you to consider a change will most likely repeat themselves in the future.  Enjoy your new career opportunity!

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