5 Critical Questions to Ask When Considering a Counteroffer

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Congratulations! You’ve just landed yourself a new job offer. Your resignation letter is typed up, signed and ready to go. But just as you go to hand it in, your boss throws you a curveball. Getting a counteroffer from a current employer can really muddy the waters and make for a much more challenging situation. If you’re grappling with this dilemma and you’re not quite sure how to react, here are five critical questions to ask yourself that should help you work through your options and make the right decision.

What was your reason for wanting to leave in the first place?

Making a career change is never easy, regardless of whether you’re changing roles or just switching to a new employer. You must have had a legitimate reason for considering such a significant life event. Maybe it was because you weren’t being challenged or felt there wasn’t room for growth. Perhaps you didn’t get along with a co-worker or the environment itself had become toxic. Understanding the real reasons behind your decision to look elsewhere can help you determine whether to stick to your guns or consider the counteroffer.

Have you given yourself sufficient time to weigh your decision?

When it comes to career decisions, knee-jerk reactions rarely pan out well. The feeling of being in demand and the promise of more money or greener pastures can lead to emotional and impulsive decisions that may not turn out to be right in the long run. When weighing offers, it’s important to take emotions out of the mix. Instead, draw up a list of pros and cons or discuss your options with close friends or family. In other words, be logical and give yourself enough time to make an informed, rational decision.

Is the counteroffer really enough to make you stay?

Most counteroffers include a pay raise, and some may also include other perks, benefits or agreements to modify one’s current work situation. Part of your evaluation process should involve asking yourself whether those offers are really going to make that much of a difference. You might also want to consider why it took a resignation letter to get your current employer to treat you better. Is there a chance you will continue to be undervalued in the future? The answers to these questions can put that counteroffer into better perspective.

How might this affect your future with the company?

Sometimes just the fact that you’ve looked elsewhere and accepted another job offer can impact the trust your current employer has for you. If you feel this might be the case and you can sense a lessening of trust now, you might very well continue to see a change in how you are perceived in the future. For instance, when you take time off, you may feel like all eyes are on you. Or you may find that you are left out of strategic projects or not trusted with confidential information because you are perceived as a “flight risk.” Determine whether your decision might prejudice your future.

Which option is going to make you happier?

Examine your feelings about each of your options. If you feel excited about the possibilities of starting fresh and the opportunity to enter a more fulfilling career role, chances are your initial decision to accept an offer elsewhere was the right one. On the other hand, if the only reason you were leaving your existing role was over something like salary and that issue is resolved with the counteroffer, staying might be your better option. Assess how you feel about each possibility and then see which one outweighs the other.

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