The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

June 08, 2016

Stand Your Ground: How to Mentally Prepare for and Gracefully Reject a Counteroffer

Counteroffers have become the norm in response to employee resignations from Accounting, Finance, Technology, and Administrative positions. As employee turnover grows and average tenure shrinks, supervisors are increasingly resorting to bribing staff with higher pay, title promotions, and other benefits.

There is really only one rule regarding counteroffers: never accept one! Smart professionals know that counteroffers are little more than desperate attempts at retention to avoid a looming future problem: replacement. Because employee replacement is expensive, boosting pay feels like a fast fix, but it is only a short-term solution.

In reality, this reaction is a tremendous insult to an employee. If the employer can present you with a base salary, a promotion, or a bonus now, why didn’t he or she considering doing so in the past? It’s likely that you have been undervalued in your current position and that your employer would have never offered more money until threatened by your resignation.

Sara Bouley, Executive Recruiter in Abacus Group’s Accounting & Finance Division, often consults her candidates on the possibility of the counteroffer. Specifically, she counsels them on mental preparation and graceful rejection. She shares her advice for anyone caught in a counteroffer dilemma.

Mental Preparation
  • Mentally prepare to resign; it’s a process in and of itself. Be mindful that it is never easy to resign, especially to people to whom you respect. Practice the dialogue in your head in advance.

  • Remember that there was a reason you were looking to leave and accepted a new opportunity in the first place. Write down those reasons the night before your resignation to solidify your decision.

  • People who really respect you and want what is best for your career will be sad to see you leave, but will only want what’s best for your success.

Graceful Execution
  • Remain firm about your decision; it is not reversible because you have already accepted a new role.

  • Thank the employer for the opportunity to have worked for the business.

  • Express satisfaction with the position and share a few of the most significant skills you developed in the role.

  • Appear to be flattered by the offer to make your manager feel valued for trying to retain you—even if it is only pretense.

  • Avoid being harsh or rude about your decision so you do not burn bridges with the company. You never know when you may need a recommendation from your former employer or work with them again in the future
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