If you are in the position of receiving a counteroffer, congrats to you as you are in a very good position. If you are not at the counteroffer stage yet, or if you’re looking for advice, this is how you can make the best decision for your career, both short-term and long-term. Keep in mind that with everyone working from home, more and more people are beginning to test the waters and begin passively looking for a new role. Without your manager close by, the freedom to try something new seems much more accessible.
That being said, if you are in the counteroffer stage now, or if you’re in the process of searching for a new role and expect to be soon, this is how you need to prepare yourself.
When you’re serious about getting a new job, make a list of pros and cons of your current role, and a list of what you would need in order to leave before you even step foot on site for an interview. If your reasons for leaving are something you want to try to address, speak with your boss now. If these issues can be resolved, then you just saved yourself a lot of time and effort in looking for a new job. If your employer won’t budge on what would make you happy, these lists will serve as a grounding point for the new offers you will be getting, as well as a reminder of why you wanted to leave your current position. Not to mention, when you resign to your boss, you can reference your efforts to resolve the issues to ease the delivery.
My advice is that if you’re willing to accept a counteroffer, or you’re even thinking of accepting a counteroffer, you shouldn’t be going to a final interview. There’s a difference between looking to see what’s out there, and fully committing yourself to a new role. You need to understand that rejecting an offer from a new company now makes it less likely they will be interested in hiring you later. You want to be absolutely positive before you burn a bridge that could really help you down the road. If you were looking to leave initially, there must have been a reason and it was probably about more than just money. If you’re given a counteroffer, will any of those reasons change? Probably not.
Your Employer Does Not Want You to Leave
Keep in mind that if you leave your current position, your boss is going to have to use huge amounts of resources to replace you, something they want to avoid at all costs. If you tell them you’ve accepted an offer somewhere else, they’ll probably try to either match your offer or incentivize you to stay with job enhancements like a title bump, flexible hours, more vacation, etc. You may start to forget all of the reasons you wanted to leave and accept their counteroffer without thinking of the benefits of leaving. This is why you should speak to your boss and make that pro and con list before your interview.
Also keep in mind that accepting a counteroffer can damage your professional relationship at your current company. While your boss may jump at the chance to retain you, from that moment on, they’ll be worried about you jumping ship. They may try to replace you before you can quit, and if that happens, you not only lose out on the opportunity for the new role, but you’ll also be out of your current role.
Follow Through and Trust Your Gut.
If you go on an interview and feel excited about the new role, do not accept the counteroffer. This is your career and your life, you need to do what you think is best and don’t let your decisions become clouded by something unexpected such as a counteroffer. Keep your list of pros and cons close, and read over it often throughout the interview process so you don’t lose sight of what you truly want for your career. Remember deciding how committed you were to this role back when you first interviewed for it. The ultimate goal here - make sure that you prepare for all possible outcomes and never look back!