Resigning? How to handle a counter offer

  • Post published:05/04/2010
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Congratulations on your appointment and new job. You are of course excited about the new challenges, already thinking about what is waiting and what you will be doing. Don’t worry, I want to tell you that this is normal. It is the same for people in sports just before a big and important competition. It is a kind of rush of adrenaline that will make you perform. It shows you are ready.

          Some may also be a little frightened by the idea of telling the current boss that they are leaving. You may been together for a while, done some great work together and you are one of the highest performers. But the thought of giving notice is causing you to have second thoughts. On the other hand you really like the new opportunity and know this is the right thing for your career. I can reassure you that we all have these thoughts when we are in the process of moving on.

          Which day and time is best to give notice? The best day and time of the week to give notice is Monday or Tuesday. The later in the day, the better. You can give notice and get out of the office. This strategy helps to avoid the time you have to spend answering annoying questions from the boss and co-workers about why you are leaving and where you are going. Most candidates give notice on a Friday afternoon but contrary to popular opinion, Friday afternoon is not the best day to do it.

          The counteroffer? Today’s corporate environment has made the counteroffer an important weapon in the war for talent. In fact, the counteroffer has become part of many companies’ strategy to keep salary costs down until they absolutely have to pay their best talent. But ask yourself why it is that on the day you give notice suddenly your opinions are so important to the boss. Why have the boss and company only now become concerned about your future or why the company only now is ready to talk about compensation when they are face to face with losing you?

          The best way to prevent that you are pushed hard by the boss to accept a counteroffer of a higher salary or title is to ensure that the boss does not make one. So enter your boss’ office with the resignation letter in hand and say: “I have committed myself to join another company. I will start working there in four weeks. Please accept this (hand out the letter), my resignation. Could you please take a moment to read it. Then we can discuss how to work together to make a smooth transition.”

          It is critical that the resignation letter and meeting make no reference to where you are going, what you will be doing there or how much you will be making. The best tactic is the direct to the point approach. Don’t beat around the bush and start a small talk.  Using this script makes it clear to your boss that you are not planning on talking about your decision to leave – but to focus on how to make the last weeks a good transition.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.