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Articles > Interviewing & Resignation - 3 Steps to Take Before You Accept a Counter Offer
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Interviewing & Resignation - 3 Steps to Take Before You Accept a Counter Offer

By JDA Professional Services, Inc.

You've completed a successful job search and found an opportunity that meets your personal needs and career goals better than your current position.  You're all set to resign, and suddenly that promotion and raise you have been waiting for comes through.  Is the timing a coincidence?  More than likely your promotion or raise is a well-timed counter offer.  

During the resignation process, counter offers are common for key IT professionals.  The competition for top talent remains high, and most companies understand the high cost of turnover.  Managers are judged by their ability to retain staff, and the sudden loss of a key team member could impact the team's performance.  If projects run behind schedule, it may impact potential bonuses.  As a result, managers use counter offers to retain their staff for their own best interests.  What should you do before you are confronted with this situation?

Step One:
Before starting the job search process, consider the reasons why you want to make a move.  Surprisingly, for most people, money is not the motivating factor in wanting to leave.  We've found that people leave positions for one or more of these reasons:
1.  Lack of career advancement or challenging work: career succession is slow, assignments are not challenging, there is no exposure to new technology or training to keep skills updated.  
2.  Lack of recognition or reward: employees feel that their work goes unnoticed or unappreciated.  
3.  Personal reasons: the commute is too long, the work hours are inflexible, there is too much travel, the benefits and perks are not good.  
4.  Bad work environment: the work environment is stressful, management and employees do not communicate openly, employees don't feel welcome to share ideas with management, employees don't feel empowered or in control of their work.  

Step Two:
Try working out the issues before you start looking for another position.  
1.  Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss your needs and long-term goals.  Before the meeting takes place, make sure you have a clear idea of what you want and where you want to be in the next three to five years.  This should not be a whining session.  Write down your needs and goals.  Find out what the company has planned for you and if it's possible for you to meet your goals there.  Openly discuss any problems or issues which concern you.
2.  Wait two weeks.  Give yourself some time to think about your options.  Discuss them in depth with your family and with a trusted friend or mentor.  
3.  Decide if you want to stay or go.  Looking for a job is stressful.  If you believe that you can work out the issues at your current position, you should consider staying put.  If your company cannot give you what you want, then it's time to start your job search.  
4.  Put a plan in place to reach your goals.  If you have decided to stay, make sure that you and your boss have a plan in place to improve your communication, meet your needs, and help you reach your long-term goals.  Your boss needs to agree to this plan 100 percent.  If your concern is career succession or compensation, the plan should include what skills and accomplishments you will need to reach your goal.  The plan should also have a time-frame and milestones so you will know where you are in the process at all times.  

Step Three:
In the case that you decide to leave, donít look back once youíve started your job search.  
1.  If you have second thoughts, ask yourself if it's simply fear of the unknown.  Most people fear change and gravitate toward what's familiar, even if itís not in their best interest.  
2.  If you accept another position and you are presented with a counter offer, go back to step one and ask yourself if accepting a counter offer will correct the reason(s) that you wanted to leave in the first place.  In our experience in working with thousands of IT professionals, a counter offer seldom changes the corporate culture and patterns in a company.  In fact, research shows that although 50 percent of people who are made a counter offer accept, 90 percent of them leave their company within one year.  
3.  Ask yourself if you had to threaten to quit to get what you wanted, if your company is truly sincere in wanting to meet your needs, or if they are just looking out for their own interests.  If you accept a counter offer, chances are that in just a few months you'll find yourself right back where you were when you started this process.  
4.  Since your decision is final, ask your manager to respect your decision, and ask for his/her support.  This is your time to be strong and confident with your decision.  If your manager is truly concerned about your well-being, he/she will support you and wish you well.  If your manager still tries to convince you to stay, he/she is probably looking out for their own interests.  
5.  Write a formal resignation letter.  For help with writing your letter, refer to our article, "Writing Your Resignation Letter: How to Resign in Style."  It includes step-by-step instructions and helpful tips on how to resign tactfully and provides samples of appropriate resignation letters.  

Congratulations!  You've made it through a difficult and emotional decision process.  

Remember that JDA Professional Services, Inc. is a reliable, effective, and highly knowledgeable IT staffing firm specializing in the recruitment of strategic-technical to executive-level professionals in Houston.  We provide staffing solutions through full-time, contract, and project-based placements.  Since 1981, we have been helping companies build great IT departments while helping IT professionals find the right career opportunities.  Because of our experience, we are the leading provider of industry and career management information for IT professionals in the Houston area.  You can find other related articles on our website at, or call us at 713-548-5400 to discuss your career needs in detail.  We wish you the best in all your career endeavors!

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