Once you have completed your interviews with your recruiter and have gone through the interviewing process with the company and an offer is made and accepted, you will have to quit your present job and will more than likely be faced with another challenge.

Not that long ago people tended to join a good company and stay until retirement. Now a typical person will work for at least five companies during their working years.

Retention is one of the toughest issues every company has to deal with. So when a good employee gives his/her notice, he/she should actually expect (and be prepared to deal with) a counteroffer.

The offer will typically be accompanied by flattery. “You’re too valuable.” “We need you.” “We were just about to promote you.” “What do you need from us in order to stay?” We are all human. We love to hear how important we are. It feels good.

So, after days/weeks of analysis and sleepless nights deciding to leave your company and accept the offer with another company, you now find yourself waivering.

Again, you are human. The current place is comfortable. You know everybody. You understand the mission. You have friends there. If your new job involves relocation, you may be uprooting your family—or just yourself. It would be much easier to stay where you are. It would be much better to stay where you are. Right?

Wrong. And here’s why.
The new position you are about to accept may be a little scary. There are some unknowns involved. That doesn’t mean it’s not a positive move. Compare the two positions—the current and the new—as if you were unemployed. Which one holds the most real potential? Probably the new one, or you never would have accepted it.

Counteroffers are generally always structured to deliver the following:

More money (“We were going to inform you of your new raise next quarter, but let’s make it effective immediately”.)

A promotion or increase in your responsibilities (“I was planning to tell you about your new promotion during that same review next quarter, but let’s make that effective now as well”.)

A promise that the company is going to reward you in the not too distant future (“The V.P. has great plans for you. You’re a real rising star here”.)

A change in your reporting structure

Disparaging remarks about the new company you plan to join or the job you plan to take

Guilt (“I’m really shocked. I thought you were happy here. You never told me there was a problem. You’ve never given me the opportunity to address your concerns”.)

There were reasons you were willing to interview for this new opportunity in the first place. If money was one of them, ask yourself why your current employer is suddenly willing to pay you “x” + “y” today—when yesterday you were only worth “x”?

If you leave, it may reflect poorly on your boss’ ability to retain and manage people. Plus it brings him/her other hassles he/she may not want to deal with right now.

Your leaving could jeopardize the on-time completion of an important project. It could cause a greater workload for your boss and for other team members, so morale could suffer. It could affect vacation schedules. And it’s expensive to replace you.

The fact of the matter is it would be better and cheaper for the company to keep you—for now—at a slightly higher salary.

Counteroffers are usually nothing more than stall devices to give your employer time to replace you at a time that is more convenient to them.

Keeping a “defector” is a temporary measure a company uses when it just can’t afford the loss at that particular time.

But that employee places himself/herself in a career “holding pattern”. He’s/she’s not going anywhere. And he/she will probably be replaced very soon. Finding a replacement for the would-be defector suddenly gains a spot high up on the priority list.

If you stay, your convictions will always be suspect. Which equates to fewer opportunities for advancement. You won’t be considered a team player. You will not be allowed into the inner circle. Your manager, as well as managers above him/her, may hold a grudge when it comes to performance review time.

The broken trust is never fully recovered. In other words, the damage is done. Every time you take a day off or call in sick or come in a few minutes late or leave a little early for that dentist appointment, your boss will be wondering if you’re out interviewing again.

If you stay, was that raise you got really just the one you were scheduled for a little later? The one that now won’t happen because two raises were not in the budget?

Counteroffers are only made in response to a threat to quit. Will you have to solicit an offer and threaten to quit every time you deserve better working conditions?

Statistics show that half or more of those who succumbed to the counteroffer were back in job search mode within 90 days. And they had missed that great opportunity they were willing to leave for!

And consider this. Attempts to “buy you back” by your present company demonstrate disrespect for you and your well-thought-out decision to leave. The new company has made plans around you and is counting on you to be part of their team. Stand by your word. Everyone will respect your integrity. And, if the employer you are leaving really valued you the way they said they did, they’ll welcome you back in the future.

Decent and well-run companies don’t make counteroffers – AT ALL. Their policies are fair and equitable and they won’t be subjected to coercion or what they perceive as blackmail.

If you have the urge to accept a counteroffer, remind yourself that your decision was well thought out in the first place and that the offer you have accepted with the new company is a good one based on their perception of your value. They freely offered you the deal because they felt you were worth it. You didn’t have to threaten them to get it!