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Managing a Counter Offer During Resignation

Resigning from a role can be a stressful experience, particularly if you are leaving friends and a brand that you have worked tirelessly for over the years.  

It is imperative that you leave an employer on good terms for future references - it's just what professionals do.  Remember, you never know what might happen in the future and it's always good practice to part company on a positive.

If executed correctly and professionally and, perhaps after an initial shock and possible emotional outburst (!), most employers will accept and understand why you are looking to move on in your career.

Next: How to manage and work through your notice period

Five Hints And Tips On Resigning

1) Request a formal meeting with your boss - don't just slam the resignation letter down under his nose first thing on a Monday morning.  Detail that you have to urgently meet with your boss in a private area to discuss an urgent matter.

2) Here is a basic resignation letter template that is pretty 'straight and to the point', but will form a good foundation for your resignation letter.

3) Prepare a carefully worded resignation letter detailing what you've learned and enjoyed during your time at the business.  Detail, in positive terms, the reasons why you have decided to move on.  Focus on the many positives that excite you in your new role that are, perhaps, not available in your current role.  Never be derogatory about the company or individuals within the company!  Taking the time to write a comprehensive resignation will prove to your boss that your resignation is not a knee-jerk reaction, or done 'on a whim'.  Keep a copy for the future, as it often helps you to remember why you've made your major life decisions.

4) Detail your understanding of the notice period that you are contracted to and detail a provisional leaving date.  If you are hoping to leave sooner than the end of your notice period, then detail handover targets that you will achieve prior to leaving and request a more favourable date.  In sales roles, it is rare that sales professionals are kept to their entire notice period, and often you are placed on 'garden leave' on full pay until the end of your notice period.  Officially you are not able to work for your new employer during this period, but it is a terrific time to plan and research.  

5) Be prepared that the meeting may have an initial emotional sting; particularly if your resignation comes as a complete surprise.  If things do turn nasty, which is extremely rare,  simply politely request that the meeting reconvenes in 30 minutes.  This is adequate time for your boss to regain composure and for the shock to 'sink in'

How To Manage A Counter-Offer - Or Offer Of Improved Status, Responsibilities, Benefits To Stay

When I mention 'counter offer', probably a third of all candidates have no understanding of what a 'counter offer' actually is - I guess it's recruitment jargon!  In essence, it is a revised offer, countered by your current employer upon receiving your resignation.   Normally this will compete with, or better, the offer received from your prospective new employer.

A counteroffer could take many different forms - additional benefits, commitment to training and development, additional responsibilities, enhanced status, etc.  Normally it is a straight pay increase.  

Why Would An Employer Offer You An Improved Package Or Role To Stay After You Have Resigned?

You have to question why it has taken your resignation to achieve an enhanced role, package, etc and quite where the budget is coming from to afford this?  

Six  Reasons Why Your Boss May Offer You A 'Counter Offer'?

  • You might be one of the top sales performers - how is she going to reach his quarterly sales target (and quarterly sales bonus!) without you?

  • The timing might be bad with staff going on leave, and she needs all of the staff available for the next quarter

  • She may be considering keeping you for the short term until she finds your replacement before making your role untenable forcing you to eventually leave anyhow

  • He may be wondering how your resignation will affect him - how will it look to the board, yet another resignation!

  • She may want you to finish a project or tender process that you've started.  Upon completion, your services may no longer be required!

  • Recruiting is time-consuming and expensive - does he have the time and the budget at this point to recruit and train a new employee?


The Ten Main Reasons Why Your Company May Offer You a Counteroffer

Although a counteroffer can be flattering - "wow, they really don't want to lose me", in reality, they rarely work out.  A major consultancy firm in the late 1990s detailed that 90% of employees that accepted a counter offer eventually left the business within 12 months.

  1. The main reason is that you've demonstrated disloyalty by attending interviews and investigating other opportunities.  In the back of your boss' mind, it is likely that your loyalty will forever be in question.

  2. You're going to have to work hard to win back your boss' trust.  Because you have been deemed to be disloyal, often candidates suddenly find that key accounts, training and progression opportunities go to their team around them.

  3. By investigating other opportunities, you have stepped over a psychological line, and you'll struggle to get back the passion and pride that you once had for your employer - whatever the improved pay is like.

  4. You may receive an enhanced package today, but it's unlikely that you'll also receive the annual pay rise next year.

  5. Counter offers are often made to simply cover the short-term, whilst plans are made to replace your responsibilities.  

  6. Employees rarely leave a business purely for money - the reasons behind your resignation still remain.

  7. Where does the budget come from to pay for this enhanced package?  Often sales targets are reset exponentially to cover this and you'll never be able to reach your sales targets and accelerated commissions again.

  8. You have now revealed to your company the reasons for your unhappiness - will this change?

  9. Your colleagues will look at you differently, and often, your boss will use you as a 'trophy' and boast about how they convinced you to stay

  10. If times get tough, the cutbacks often start with the disloyal employee!

The Golden Rule: How to Manage a Counter Offer

Before you withdraw your application from the firm that has offered you an alternative role, ensure that you have in writing the specifics of the promotion or increased package OR a firm timeline of when this will happen.  Make sure that a Senior Director signs it.

If you were looking to leave due to an issue, such as bullying, ensure that you have the commitment from a Senior Director in writing that steps will be taken to ensure this doesn't happen again.

It is also worth getting the Senior Director also to confirm that your position will not be in jeopardy moving forward and that, despite your resignation, you are still on favourable terms. You may also want them to confirm some financial compensation should your position become untenable at some point in the future.

Only withdraw your application from the other offer once all of the above is received in writing If they are not prepared to put the details of the counteroffer in writing, then question whether what has been promised will materialise.  And, while you are at it, why not ask for a re-signing bonus!

Date published: 27th Feb 2024

Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

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