Once You Resign — Go!
June 1, 2016

Once You Resign — Go!

by Brian de Haaff

There is no getting around it: Changing jobs can be a little unsettling for even the most confident among us. Deciding to pursue a new direction takes guts, especially if you were comfortable in the role.

That is why a healthy counteroffer from your current employer is sure to give you a moment’s pause.

You are bound to have mixed emotions. You were eagerly anticipating that new job and felt certain about turning in your resignation, but now you’re surprised by this flattering attention from your current employer.

A counteroffer can be a nice ego-boost — particularly if you felt underappreciated in the past. And it likely feels a little vindicating as well, as though your company might finally be ready to deliver the salary you deserve and the respect to match it.

And yet — you started looking for a new job for a reason. (You just resigned, remember?) You need to hold on to that feeling and remind yourself why you wanted to go.

Your reason for leaving is probably not just about money. In fact, a Gallup study found that only 22 percent of employees making a job change cited pay and benefits as the main reason for their decision. Instead, they named other factors, including lack of fit, little advancement opportunities, management issues, or the work environment.

You should also know that people who accept a counteroffer do not wind up sticking around for long, with as many as 80 percent leaving or getting fired before a year is up, according to Harvard Business Review. Those who stay resume their job search within six weeks; the valid reasons for quitting, it seems, return in full force sooner than later.

So, when it is time to go, consider the following if your employer really is putting on a full-court press to keep you around. Brush off the counteroffer and keep right on moving toward that new job. The reality is that if you do take the counteroffer, you will:

Cheat yourself By staying at your old job, you are letting fear direct your actions instead of doing what is best for you. You rob yourself of an opportunity to face new challenges and grow to your potential. In the process, you snuff out that tiny spark of hope you had for achieving those goals at the new job.

Overlook problems Accepting that counteroffer may allow you to briefly overlook the boss’s bad temper, dysfunctional corporate culture, or lack of advancement opportunities. But once the thrill of being wooed back wears off, you will realize the things that made you want to leave your job did not change. A little more in your paycheck will not change that fact.

Limit learning One reason you were likely looking to leave was to learn from a new team so you can continue to grow. This is our natural inclination — to be challenged intellectually and pushed to our limits. That is why you must resist retreating back to your old role and embrace that healthy decision you made to realize your potential.

Breed mistrust Accepting the counteroffer may seem like a safe move, but you are really putting yourself in jeopardy. After resigning, and then accepting the counteroffer, you signaled to your employer that you are willing to leave the minute a better offer comes along. In fact, you might risk losing both jobs in the near-term and cause your career to temporarily get off track.

It is wise to dig deeper into your employer’s reasons behind the counteroffer. Have they suddenly realized your worth? Or is it in their best interest to keep you around — until they figure out their next steps, like finding your replacement? The situation warrants some healthy suspicion, so think a few moves ahead to what they may be planning.

Money is important, to be sure. But more money will not equal more learning or more happiness — and you will soon remember that if you decide to stay.

Sometimes, it is smart to pause and rethink big life decisions. But in most cases it is wise to stick with your original choice. Keep on moving, do not look back, and hold onto your very smart reasons for leaving.

The grass may indeed be greener on the other side — but you will never know for sure unless you give yourself the opportunity to check it out.

What do you think about accepting counteroffers: good or bad?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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