We see thousands of situations every year where people change jobs, but sometimes the process can be complicated after a candidate hands in their resignation only to receive a counter offer from their current employer. This is not unusual, although in our experience it happens in less than 10 per cent of the job changes we see. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you make a measured judgement about what is best for you by considering some of the following issues:

Motivations for change

Most people’s reasons for career change can be grouped into categories such as ‘salary’, ‘location’ and ‘prospects’. Try to uncover your own personal motivations and determine how significant they are to you:

  • What were the main reasons which led me to seek a new job?
  • Why did I accept the offer after the interview?
  • Have any of these reasons changed or disappeared with the counter offer?

Your present employer’s motives

For an employer, receiving a resignation from an important member of their team can create both short and long term problems. You therefore need to identify why your employer is making the counter offer and decide if their motives are also in your best interest:

  • If I had approached my employer about altering my package and role before looking elsewhere, would the offer have been forthcoming?
  • Is my employer only making this offer for short-term business reasons?
  • Is my counter offer accompanied by a longer-term career plan?

Your new employer and role

When you receive a counter offer, it gives you a chance to re-examine the interactions you have had with your prospective new employer:

  • Was the interview process like a courtship or were real issues raised and resolved?
  • Are you and your new employer clear about how you want your career to develop?
  • Has your new employer committed to helping you achieve this?

Relationships

Your boss may express surprise upon receiving your resignation letter and a counter offer could come as a shock to you if it is not common practise at your company. If this is the case, the relationship you have with your boss may not be one of mutual understanding and you should review how well you understand one another and how well you communicate:

  • How would you rate the relationship with your boss?
  • Can your boss deliver on the counter offer?
  • What elements of trust between you and your colleagues will have changed as a result of your resignation and can they be re-established?

About you

Finally, you need to consider how you feel:

  • Reflecting on your last job change, what might you do differently with the benefit of hindsight?
  • Do you trust your instincts?
  • If so, do you have a gut feeling about the right way to go?
  • Take the time to reflect on these questions and review them with someone impartial. Ultimately, you will have to make the decision that is right for you.

Having more than one offer on the table is a great position to be in, but it can be difficult to decide which job is right for you. The technique below is designed to help clarify how you feel about some aspects of each role. This will generate a points score which can be used as part of your decision making process but it must be noted that such an important decision should not be made solely based on these results.

  1. For the first role, Job A, create a table with four columns.
  2. In column 1, list Job A’s five obvious advantages.
  3. Rate the importance of each on a scale of 1-10 and calculate an overall Positives score.
  4. Moving to column 3, list the five main drawbacks of the job.
  5. Rate each on a scale of 1-10 to get an overall Negatives score.
  6. Repeat the process for the second role, Job B.

You should end up with something similar to the tables below:

 Job A Positives Importance Job A Negatives Importance
Good salary 9 Small training budget 7
Lots of autonomy 10 Weekend work 6
Exciting culture 8 Old company offices 5
Influential role 10 No room to develop 10
Client facing 9 Poor benefits 8
Total 46 Total 36

Job B Positives Importance Job B Negatives Importance
Good salary 9 Long commute 7
Room to develop 10 Long working hours 7
Large training budget 7 Lack of responsibility 10
Long vacation allowance 6 Lack of autonomy 10
Client facing 9 Poor benefits 8
Total 41 Total 42

Starting with the Positive factors:

  • Does Job A or B have more important individual points?
  • Which job has a better combination of positives?
  • Is either job clearly more positive overall?

Next, compare the Negative factors and their totals:

  • Which offer has either fewer (or less important) negatives?
  • Does one look considerably worse than the other?

Using this exercise as your decision-making tool, Job A outperforms Job B in both positive and negative comparisons, which would give you a supporting argument for choosing Job A.