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Should you Accept or Decline a Counteroffer?

You agonize. You think about the impact on your family, coworkers and yourself. You sway one way, then the other. Finally, you make up your mind to resign your present job. You land a new job with more pay and growth potential.

On Friday morning, you get up the nerve. You give your two-weeks notice, by handing your letter of resignation to your boss. You feel relieved, because you think the hard part is over. The excitement of starting a new job begins to replace the anxiety of quitting your present job.

But, by Friday afternoon, your boss messes up the works by making what appears to be an attractive counteroffer. Even your VP, whom you hardly ever see otherwise, asks you to reconsider. You're flattered, but confused. It's tempting to stay with what you know. Should you stay or should you go?

Even though they've sweetened the deal, keep in mind that they are likely making a counteroffer much more for their benefit than yours. Why did they wait until you resigned, to offer you what you're really worth to them?

Once you've made it clear that you want to jump ship, your loyalty will be in question. They might be making a counteroffer only to take advantage of you, until they find a cheaper or "more dedicated" replacement.

For these reasons, most career advisors agree that it's not a good idea to accept a counteroffer. For more reasons, click the links under Elsewhere on the Web in the sidebar.

To avoid encouraging a counteroffer, be careful what you say about why you're resigning. For example, avoid saying something like "I'm resigning because I need more money." If pushed, offer a simple, general reason instead, such as "It's a career opportunity I can't pass up."

Of course, declining a counteroffer with tact and finesse is a good idea, to avoid bad feelings that might damage your references. But, avoid expressing resignation regret, as that might give your employer ammunition to pressure you to stay.

See How to Resign with Class for more tips about quitting your job, without burning your bridges.

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