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Resignation Best Practices and Navigating Counter Offers

Job searching can be a long, difficult process. You’ve been leading a double life—getting the results you need for your current employer while presenting your best self in the interview process. Unfortunately, the excitement of accepting a great new job offer can wear off quickly as the realities of resigning and transitioning out of your current role set in. 

Unless you’re fleeing a truly toxic workplace, the process of resigning can be nerve wracking. It’s a difficult conversation in the best of circumstances. Most of us spend more time at work/with our co-workers than we do with our families and friends—it’s only natural to get close to the people you work with, and to feel uneasy about moving on. 

Keep your resignation conversation short, to the point, and focused on the next steps in your transition. You don’t have to tell your manager where you’re going, or any of the details of the offer you’ve accepted—in fact it’s often smart to keep that information confidential, as your manager may try to use it against you. We’ve seen managers try to poison candidates against their new companies, or use information about the offer as ammunition for creating a counter offer. 

Focus your conversation on thanking your manager for the opportunity, ironing out the details of your transition out of the role, and clearly communicating that you’ve made a final decision. Choose a day that is at least two weeks away, and let them know that it will be your last day.

Keep in mind that your manager will likely have a lot going through their minds during and after this conversation. Replacing employees—especially great ones—can be costly and time consuming. They’re thinking about your ongoing projects, the impact of your departure on the team, and how this is going to make them look to their own managers. With all that in mind, they’re also likely thinking about what they can do to make you change your mind with a counter offer. 

Counter offers create a very tricky situation, and navigating them appropriately can have a big impact on your career. 

The lure of more money—without having to transition into a new role—can certainly be tempting! However, in our experience, most candidates don’t move for more money. Salary is just one of many factors in the decision to move on. A better commute, stronger cultural/missional alignment, better management, an opportunity to work with cutting edge tech, work from home flexibility—and yes, the opportunity to earn more money—are all common factors in a job search. 

Counter offers are flattering! They are designed to appeal to your ego. They tell you “this company can’t survive without you.” They make you feel desired and indispensable, which can make you question your decision to look for and accept another offer. 

However, a counter offer only solves for money—if you’ve been miserable working for an ineffective manager, accepting a counter offer will not make them a better leader. You’ll still be in the same situation, just with a bit more cash. If you don’t fit in well with the company culture, that won’t be fixed either. 

In fact, if there’s one thing that would convince you to stay in your current role, you should ask for it before you start looking for jobs and interviewing. If you get all the way to an offer stage at another organization before making your request, you risk burning a lot of bridges. You’ll have wasted the time of your interviewers, and demonstrated to your current manager that you don’t have the professional courtesy to raise your concerns in a respectful and timely way.

Accepting a counter offer can also do some damage to your professional reputation. You’ve announced to your current leadership that you have been unhappy enough in your role to leave, which will likely result in them questioning your loyalty. If they need to downsize in the future you’ll be at the top of their list to let go. You’ve also broken your word to the organization that wanted to hire you, which will likely burn that bridge as well. 

If you’re considering accepting a counter offer, you should do so fully understanding the potential ramifications. Of course, every now and then we hear a success story, but for the most part, candidates who accept counter offers suffer professional consequences

The few weeks between accepting a job offer and getting started in a new role can be nerve wracking. You have to have difficult conversations, say goodbye to colleagues, and hand off or wrap up projects that you’ve been working on for months. It’s understandable to waver in your decision to move on—especially if you receive a counter offer. Keep your real reasons for moving in mind, make impeccable professionalism your goal for that transition period, and do everything you can to protect your reputation. And then go crush it at your new job. 

Are your hiring efforts getting stalled by counter offers? We can help you find, attract, and hire the top talent you need to grow your business. Book a consult with our friendly and knowledgeable team today!