Whether you felt underappreciated or underpaid in your current role, or you were simply interested in what else was out there, you made the conscious choice to begin looking for a new position. You go through the interview process with a new company and receive an offer you’re prepared to accept. However, after you tell your current employer you’re planning to leave, they present you with a counteroffer. Should you accept it?
Before making any moves, reflect on your career goals and devise an effective strategy so you can leave your current company the right way. Here are some considerations that can help you navigate this sticky situation:
Why did you decide to interview with another company in the first place? Was money the primary reason? If so, and you believe you are being underpaid and have no other reason to leave, consider setting up a meeting with your manager before searching for jobs elsewhere.
If money was not what sparked your interest in leaving your company, it’s wise to honor your commitment to the new company you interviewed with and leave your current position gracefully. If you were feeling unappreciated or uninspired in your role, these feelings will likely creep back in after the excitement from your raise wears off.
Be aware that attempting to use an outside offer as leverage for a raise at your current company could backfire. There is a chance your company may typically refrain from making counteroffers because they want to prevent this exact scenario— i.e., people threatening to leave just to win a higher salary.
Not to mention, you may offend the organization you received the offer from. Hiring managers and HR employees likely spent time and energy interviewing you, assessing your information, and deciding on a competitive salary.
Even if your current employer presents you with a counteroffer, your long-term prospects might be undermined because of the perceived disloyalty. So, you may unintentionally burn bridges by bringing up outside offers. And managers talk. Your bad press can ripple beyond these companies into the larger market.
So, if you begin the process of leaving a job, it’s best to follow through and leave your role with tact to keep a solid reputation with both your current company and your prospective one.
What if you trust your boss’s counteroffer is authentic—they’re not just trying to buy you back— and they want to move you into a new role or give you new responsibilities to make your job more fulfilling? A genuine counteroffer is hard to fake, especially if it comes immediately after your resignation. If you truly believe it’s an offer your company would’ve made at some point in the future anyways, it may be safe to accept.
However, if it’s clear your company is making the offer to simply retain as many staff members as they can, you may eventually find the undesirable workplace atmosphere you were trying to escape never left. Also, declining an authentic counteroffer is not something to feel guilty about. Thank your company for their generosity but ensure them this move is what’s best for you and your career.
If you’re still unsure about accepting or declining the counteroffer, try mulling it over with a trusted mentor or third-party who can help you weigh the pros and cons of each job and each company. When you’re clear about your reasons for leaving, you should be able to resist any counteroffers that aren’t in your best interests, authentic or not.
Ultimately, the most effective way to navigate a counteroffer conversation is to avoid the situation entirely. Before you go through an entire interview process and receive an outside offer, have a frank, honest discussion with your boss about your dissatisfaction with your role. If they react angrily or with resentment towards your concerns, you can take their response into account as you weigh your options for the future.