Two people in a job counteroffer negotiation

You’ve secured an offer for a new job that matches your career goals and compensation expectations. As you hand in your resignation letter to your current employer, your manager feels a rush of panic. In a desperate plea to convince you to stay, they counter with what sounds like an irresistible offer. You were excited about the prospect of the new position, but now are tempted to stick around.

Here are 4 important questions to ask yourself when considering your options:

1. Why wasn’t I valued before?

Why did it take the prospect of your resignation to propel them into action and value you at the rate you value yourself? Have you asked for a raise or promotion previously and were declined? Where is the budget coming from? Perhaps your resignation has truly made them realize they were undervaluing you, but in some cases, the reason behind counteroffering is more to do with the inconvenience of finding a replacement than actually valuing you as an employee. It may even be a ploy just to buy time and replace you later.

2. What will it be like if I decide to stay?

The cat’s out of the bag. Your manager is now well-aware that you were unhappy and seeking out greener pastures. Doubt has now been cast on your loyalty and there is a loss of trust. In the future they may be suspicious that you’re going for an interview any time you request time off for a personal appointment or are dressed nicely. Think about what the work dynamics will be like if you decide to stay.

3. Why did I want to leave?

Money is almost never the sole reason for deciding to resign. When considering a counteroffer, revisit the top three reasons you wanted to leave in the first place. Beyond just compensation, think about the scope of your responsibilities, your team, the corporate culture, management style, etc. Have those reasons changed? Does this counteroffer address those concerns, or only provide an increase in salary? If an employer does promise change, tread carefully—you don’t want to be burned by empty promises. Consider whether the problem is habitual or circumstantial. Ongoing behaviours and ingrained culture are highly unlikely to change.

4. Am I willing to take the risk of burning bridges with future employers?

You went through the interview process, you met with key management, negotiated a salary and benefits package and were presented with an attractive offer… and then you pulled the rug out from under them. Ouch. Employers invest a lot of time and resources into the hiring process, and having your exciting new recruit pull out at the last minute hurts. This is when it really helps to take a step back and look at the big picture. Is this a company that I would like to work with in the future? Will rejecting their offer tarnish my reputation with this company, recruiter or the industry overall?

Consider all your options and the consequences involved. With any career-related move, stay focused on the big picture and be clear about where each step is taking you. It can take a brave face and strong resolve to say no to a generous counteroffer or a guilt trip, but it may be the move that saves your career in the long run.

A final note: Whatever you decide, take the time to be intentional and professional about how you communicate your decision, so you keep future doors open and your reputation intact. Whether you choose to accept the new job, or the counteroffer from your current employer, you’re going to have to say “no” to someone. Be respectful, don’t drag out the decision any longer than it needs to be, and absolutely do not ghost either party. If you’re working with a recruiter, ensure you’re upfront with them about your decision as well (they may also be able to provide advice to help with your decision!).

For more tips on navigating a job offer, check out this webinar recording: Salary Negotiations – Knowing Your Value & Getting to a Win-Win