Re: My Resignation – Counteroffers are a bandage on a bleeding artery

I look forward to the controversy this article will create, and I hope there are enough people who will prove me wrong, but after 12 years of working in job placement and helping more than 700 people give a notice to their employer to make a job transition I can say with confidence most people who accept a counteroffer from their employer end up leaving in less than a year anyway. So why even entertain the idea of staying?

Fear, emotional ties, guilt, not having a clear mind about why you made your decision?

The truth is, most of us don’t know how to resign from a job properly, and why should we? I was never trained how to professionally leave an employer outside of the common courtesy I learned on how to treat people.

How many times have you had to give notice to an employer in your life? I venture to guess it is less than 3. I will even go a step further and say you had a hard time sleeping the night prior, rehearsed exactly what you were going to say, your voice cracked as you started to get the words out and you maybe even cried during the meeting. Everything mentioned is expected because you invested a portion of your life into that job, and you are the type of person who gives your best in what you do. I am no Dr. Phil, but I’m here to tell you it’s ok for you to get emotional about leaving your job. In fact, your employer should congratulate you and be happy for your professional progression.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty, and this number is projected to grow. In fact, we have the millennial generation to accredit for this change according to a recent LinkedIn posting

Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers, that’s you, will hold twelve to fifteen jobs in their lifetime.

There are a plethora of reasons why you won’t stay at your current employer and they aren’t all bad. We live in a rapidly progressive society where industries are going through seemingly overnight transformations. Professionals are even changing careers paths in their 40s which rarely happened in the past.

Regardless of your reason for leaving your employer, breaking up is hard to do. The goal shouldn’t be focused on whether you should leave as much as it should be about if you can come back at a later point in your career.

And now that you know how often you will go through the painful process of resigning from a job it’s probably time we all take the reigns and learn how to resign with dignity; especially with all the landmines that may pop up.

First, let’s handle the easy stuff. If you want to resign professionally do these things:

  1. Write a resignation letter
  2. Inform your supervisor prior to telling others
  3. Help to offload your responsibilities to the person taking over for you
  4. Decide how much notice you are giving
  5. Finalize the details of your new opportunity prior to giving your notice
  6. And lastly, make a firm decision about leaving

If you hurried through my last bullet, read it again because it’s the only one that matters.

The worst thing you can do is to be uncertain about your decision to leave your company.

What did you think your manager would say? Of course your employer doesn’t want you to leave; however, you now placed them in a difficult position to create an offer greater than they were willing to make.

Let’s walk through a typical scenario. You are a key associate who has been with your company for 5 years and still work for the same supervisor or manager who was involved in hiring you into the company. Life has changed drastically since you started as a pimple-faced college graduate who spent your evenings and weekends at the local pub and softball field. You have mastered your job with your eyes closed, you know all of your co-workers by a nickname instead of by the name their mother gave them, you celebrate hump day and Thursday because you are all that much closer to Friday, and lastly you have perfected your route to work to avoid all the red lights and construction zones. 3-4% annual raises have become your norm, and the thought of a promotion or new job sounds fun but why would you give up such a cushy thing?

Then you receive the email or Linkedin message that will eventually take you through the roller coaster of stress you never asked for. You know what I’m talking about. The message soliciting you to consider a new job opportunity that offers a better title, and income.

You think “Why not?”, I’m a valuable asset who can still pull all-nighters with my friends and get the project done by its deadline. It wouldn’t hurt for me to _____________________ (enter any cliche’ statement that comes to mind about considering a new job: Peak over the fence, expand your horizons, spread your wings, etc).

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of professionals who believe it is healthy to look at new opportunities regularly.

There can be tremendous upside in taking time to appraise your professional market value, but if you fall prey to the 12 bullets listed below you may look back and realize you didn’t properly leverage it.

If you are brave enough to go through the interview process and make the decision to move on to a new opportunity you MUST not accept a counteroffer from your employer, and here is why.

12 horrific things to consider if you accept a counteroffer from your employer

  1. You will strain your relationship with your supervisor because they will be forced to give you the income, title, benefits to stay before they were ready to do it.
  2. You now made your employer aware that you are unhappy, and your commitment will always be in question.
  3. When promotion time comes around chances are you won’t be considered.
  4. When times get tough, you will most likely be on the short list of people considered for termination.
  5. If your employer decided to replace you in 6 months, you will know why.
  6. Accepting a counteroffer doesn’t help your confidence, you will always feel like you were bought, instead of doing what is best for you.
  7. Accepting a counteroffer probably won’t change the reasons why you considered a new job in the first place, it will just be a short-term bandage.
  8. No Christmas bonus for you. You just received your raise for a very long time.
  9. Statistics show if you accept a counteroffer, there is a 90% chance you will leave within a year.
  10. What type of a company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you’re worth?
  11. Why didn’t your company give you the raise or promotion prior to you deciding to leave?
  12. Why are they paying it to you now? Probably because it’s easier than having to replace you right away.

Instead of living through the agony of regret from accepting a counteroffer, try approaching your resignation this way.

  1. Ask your supervisor for a private meeting
  2. Thank your supervisor for the great professional training and mentorship you received during your time with the company.
  3. Reflect on some great memories you created during your time with the company.
  4. Be vulnerable and inform your supervisor that the meeting is very uncomfortable for you and ask for their support.
  5. Confidently inform your supervisor of your firm decision to make a job change and why you are excited about the future opportunity.
  6. Ask your employer how you can help make the transition smooth.
  7. Request that your supervisor be happy for you and wish you well in your new venture.
  8. Remind your employer that it is hard to predict the long-term future and reiterate that you hope you have the opportunity to work together again.

Remember this, it’s your career. If you don’t take strategic steps of progression at the right time you may regret never making a decision. You will spend the majority of your productive years working IN your career and you should spend more time working ON your career.

When you accept a new opportunity on your terms, it is empowering, and a boost to your confidence and most of us will benefit from a happier, more confident version of you. 🙂

P.S. – If for some weird reason you made it to the end of this article and still don’t listen to my advice about turning down the counteroffer, remember the words of the great Michael Scott

“Fool me once, strike one, but fool me twice…..strike three.”