Should I stay or should I go?

I wanted to title this post: ‘why it is a (very) bad idea to accept your company’s counter-offer…’

I finally decided to try writing without prejudices a paper on people who hand out their resignation to their employers after having accepted to join another and are suddenly facing a refusal as they managers come to them with an attractive promotion.

What should they do? And why?

Having been a recruiter for so long, I hate it when candidates accept my client’s offer but call back (when they are not brave enough they write a mail…) after days/weeks to say “Know what? Finally I’ll stay where I am”. It makes the end client angry/sad/disabused (any or all) and in any case more difficult to work with… and from a work point of view, we have to go back at it all over again, and we will not see our money for a long time…

Let’s review what happened.

Someone has been looking to change their jobs: they monitored the ads and/or spoke to head-hunters and/or networked. Or someone has just seized a recruitment opportunity… In all cases they have worked to pass interviews and tests, waited, passed some more, given names for reference checks, etc. Until they received an offer, negotiated it and eventually said and wrote “I accept your offer: I will join you at the latest on…”

Question: If they wanted this to happen, if they wanted to change, why then would they come back on this?

Answer: Because they are proposed something they consider better.

And it is true: when they counter-offer, employers do it properly, almost always offering a real promotion, e.g. change of job & status and the money that goes with it. While the position in the new company is often much closer to the current job, because of how the recruitment market works.

Additionally, the counter-job will still be within a known environment, appearing safer because less ‘uncharted’. The success probability is probably better if they stay…

Finally, people rather rarely start a recruitment process because their current situation is unbearable. They are still ok with it, and they know well their bosses and their colleagues… and they can imagine the negative impact of their departure. It becomes harder to tell them goodbye and say no. While calling the future boss they spoke with for only a few hours weeks ago…


What next?

Why would your employer wait that you made up your mind about leaving, to offer you this very good job? Probably because they realized they could not afford to lose you now. Sad to think you had to quit so they realized your worth… makes you reconsider all the nice talk about career planning and personal development you have been hearing about for years.

Face it: you had to twist their arm to get a promotion and there is not much chance they liked it.

The result is immediately good but what are the effects for the future? Can the relationship still be true, without defiance? A good manager will not be caught without back-up twice. So this was a one-shot. What’s going to happen when you are not key any longer? More important: you proved they did not have plans for you until you moved. Both side know it, and the other employees too, you might have triggered a shift in the power balance…

The relationship is changed, hope you will still like it, because you have burnt the bridges internally and obviously with the company which was counting on your recruitment… not to mention the ‘poor’ head-hunter :-)

Let’s forget the fact that you did give your word to the new company and you broke it… here is the paradox: it’s difficult to refuse a counter-offer, but I really think there are not that many good reasons to accept it!

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