Reader Aaron writes in with his latest workplace developments and a question. While working at my current job, I have been interviewing for a new position with the same company. The new position is at a significantly higher level with a title to match, a higher salary, a better commute, and what seems to be a friendlier environment. Last night, I was offered the new position. So, this morning I prepared my resignation letter but told my manager in person of my intentions without officially resigning. To my surprise, she presented a counteroffer that seems slightly better than the offer for my new position. Should I entertain the counteroffer?
I’m not an expert on career advice; if I were, I’d be much farther along in my professional career. Yet, a similar situation happened to me last year when I took my latest position with my company. For me it was easy; the counteroffer did not match my new offer. When informing my manager of my intentions to take a new position, her response was, “But I was just about promote you…” (Long overdue, in my opinion, of course.) The promotion wouldn’t have matched my new offer, so the decision was easy for me. If a manager makes a serious counteroffer, it can be difficult to work out the best thing to do, because you have to weigh factors other than numbers.
If you’re looking for a new position, most likely you are unhappy in your current position for one reason or another. It may just be about the money and title, so if the counteroffer fixes those problems, and you truly don’t mind sticking around, feel free to stay. But if you’re like most people, it’s not just the money and title. There is some aspect of the working condition that is not a good match for your personality or philosophy. If that is the case, don’t even consider staying. You should never have to suffer longer than absolutely necessary in a situation for which you have a better alternative.
Also if you stick around after accepting a counteroffer it may change the dynamic of the relationship between you and your manager — or worse, you and your co-workers if they know of your situation. If your current manager is offering you more money and you take the counteroffer for that reason, she may end up resenting you and you may resent your choice to stay. Sometimes it’s better to get a fresh start… without burning your bridges behind you as you leave.
Published or updated August 8, 2007.