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How to Resign Part 1: The Counteroffer

Once the often emotional decision to leave has been made, you must plan your resignation and how you will handle your employer’s response. It is important to end your relationship as professionally as possible and not to burn any bridges; you never know when you may need a future reference. Compose a letter stating your last day of employment as well as expressing that your decision is final.



Keep it short, simple and positive. Avoid the temptation to recite a list of grievances. Before you present your resignation letter, you must be committed to leaving. Otherwise, “temporary promises and solutions” in the form of a counteroffer may entice you to stay.


Surprisingly, the very best companies rarely make counteroffers. They believe they treat their employees fairly and wish them well if a better opportunity exists elsewhere. If you work for one of them, don’t be disappointed if you fail to receive a counteroffer. On the other hand, most employers do not like to be fired. Your departure may jeopardize an important project or vacation schedule, create additional workload and even negatively impact employee morale.


In order to prevent you from leaving and causing turmoil within the organization, your employer may make you a counteroffer. Appealing to greed or ego, companies will offer resigning employees promotions, additional training, more money or simply promises of future consideration. They may also prey upon the employee’s conflicting emotions by creating guilt about the present (“How can you leave us at a time like this?”) or uncertainty about the future (“We hear they just lost a big project”).


Some common tactics include:

  • “We haven’t given you the recognition you deserve; please give us another chance.”

  • “You’re too valuable for us to lose.”

  • “We were just about to promote you (or give you a raise), but we had to keep it confidential until now.”

  • “The grass isn’t always greener, you know. Why take the chance?”


Counteroffers can be very flattering. Before you fall victim to accepting one, here are a few things to think about:

  • Why did you have to resign before they offered to give you what you are worth?

  • Where is the additional money coming from? Is it simply your next raise a few months early?

  • Is your employer “buying time” until a replacement can be found?

  • When the next opportunity for promotion comes along, will the company consider you as loyal as your colleagues for the position?

  • Once the word gets out, can your relationship with your co-workers ever be the same?

  • If an economic slow-down occurs, will you be the first to go?

  • Have the same circumstances that caused you to consider a change disappeared?


In fact, statistics prove that nearly four out of five people who accept counteroffers are gone within the first year – and on their employer’s terms and timing. Although your employer may truly consider you to be an asset and may genuinely care about you, your interests are secondary to your boss’ career and your company’s profit. Counteroffers are attempts to manipulate you to do something that is in your employer’s best interests, not necessarily yours. You should hold a steady course from the beginning and stick with your decision to move on to a bigger and brighter future.