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You resigned. You were given a counter offer. Now what?

by Linda Matias

Breaking up is hard to do. To gear up for the fateful day, the “dumper” usually plays the scenario over and over in his or her mind until the perfect break up line is found; a line that has the right balance of honesty and diplomacy. The dumper’s vision usually ends smoothly, without complications, and a firm "we’ll part as friends" handshake. Unfortunately, breakups are rarely a mutual decision. The “dumpee” almost always throws a curve ball in the dumper’s perfect plan, he or she asks -- sometimes begs -- for a second chance.

Uncomfortable breakups are not restricted to one’s personal life; they can also creep into one’s professional life when an employer’s response to a resignation is a counter offer. In a moment of weakness, the employee may feel extreme pressure to cave in. Should he or she stay in the current job that has become stale or does he or she move on to take advantage of a more exciting opportunity?

Though the decision whether to stay or go is a personal one, there are common pitfalls that you must be aware of before accepting an employer’s counter offer. There are many factors to consider.

The moment you resign, your loyalty to the company is immediately questioned. Although your manager may say "We’ll give you anything you want" in an effort to persuade you to stay, be aware that this plea may be a diversion until the company finds a replacement. Your manager will do what he or she can to protect the interest of the company. Even if you are not replaced, you may be passed up for a promotion or not assigned juicy projects because you have gained the reputation of a disloyal employee, a non-team player.

However, let’s give your manager the benefit of the doubt. After all, he or she may be sincere in their quest to make things right but they may not have the authority to follow through. Therefore, don’t take promises at face value; get your counter offer in writing.

How management perceives you should not be your only concern. Your colleagues may become resentful that you were given a raise or company perks because, as they see it, you blackmailed the company into making a counter offer. As far as your colleagues are concerned, they put in as much time and effort as you to promote the growth of the company, and they will resent not being recognized for their contribution the way you have been.

Resentment can develop into a feeling of professional distrust and the dynamics of your relationships with colleagues may begin to shift. For the most part, the makeup of your day is defined by your connections with co-workers. When stresses begin to mount at work, it can trickle into other areas of your life. It is important that you consider your colleague’s reaction when making the final decision as to whether you should stay or go.

Resist the temptation to be roped in by and glamour of the benefits you may be presented. Take into account the core reasons why you decided to begin searching for another position. Was it because you wanted a prime parking spot? Or was it because your efforts weren’t valued? Was it because you wanted extended lunches? Or was it because you want to get home at a reasonable hour? When all is said and done, are the perks that you are being offered sufficient to overcome your initial objections that motivated your search for another job to begin with?

Statistics show that employees who decide to accept a counter offer end up getting fired or quit within the year. Does that mean you shouldn’t accept a counter offer? Not necessarily. What it does mean is that you should prepare for all the possible scenarios that may arise. Whether you decide to stay or make a clean break is up to you. Just be sure that your decision is an educated one.

Linda Matias is President of CareerStrides and The National Resume Writers' Association. She has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and Visit her website at or email her at

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