How to make a decision when you get a counter offer

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You have been offered an interesting job with a great company. You like the people, the opportunity sounds exciting, and you can see yourself making an impact there. 

You get ready for the 'awkward resignation conversation', and despite the pre-nerves, it's now done. You've resigned. All is good except for one thing...

They don't want you to leave.

"Give us a couple of days to come back with something..."

This is exactly what they do, whether it's more money or a different job title, they're doing their very best to encourage you to stay.

Now you find yourself in this 'should I stay, or should I go' scenario which seems to consume all of your time and headspace. You feel the pressure to make the right decision, especially as you know both companies are waiting on you for an answer, and before you know it, you're into analysis paralysis mode mulling over:

- What if I join and they find out I'm actually no good at this job?

- What if I stay and regret it?

- What if join and no one likes me?

- I feel guilty leaving my team in the lurch like this, maybe I should stay? 

This article aims to help you navigate your way through this process so that you can make your decision with more clarity. 

When you're faced with a decision about your next career move, there's no doubt it gets lumped into the “Big Life Decisions” camp right up there with - where to live, who to marry, and whether to have children!  As it feels like such a big deal, it can seem there's a lot at stake if you get it wrong. You may have attached a lot of meaning to what will happen if you get it right, and what will happen if you get it wrong. 

But here’s the reality.

The right answer doesn't exist. Why? Because the future hasn’t happened yet, and so there is no such thing as a right answer waiting in the wings of this thing called future because ... well, the future hasn’t happened yet.

Therefore, striving to make the right decision in advance of knowing exactly how it will work out, is a losing game. No wonder it leads to analysis paralysis because we’re waiting for something that simply doesn’t exist.

So, if making the right decision doesn’t exist, where does that leave you?  What you can aim for is to make a good decision, with the added comfort that whatever happens, you'll deal with it.  

How to make a good decision

The chances are that you probably already know which direction you want to go in.  Most people do.  However, this knowledge can get lost in amongst the “noise” and attention you are all of a sudden receiving – plus for our own egos, it’s flattering to get attention from both your existing and prospective new employer.

There are a couple of questions I would ask anyone entertaining a counter offer to honestly ask themselves:

  1. “Why did I initially take that call from the headhunter (or respond to the job posting on LinkedIn) and proceed to accept an interview request with the prospective new employer in the first place?”
  2. “Why did it take for me to resign before my current employer offered me something more in line with what I was looking for?” 

It is important to understand what your own original motivations were for looking in the first place.  Are these motivating factors still the same now you have an offer and a counter offer?  If not, how have they changed and why?  It is imperative that you find some “quiet” time to evaluate these reasons and motivators to ensure you make the best decision for you.

At this stage, and where possible, I would also suggest that you ask both your current and prospective employer for 48 hrs to make the decision without being contacted.

During this time, you can ask yourself the following questions to help you with your decision-making process:

  1. By saying yes to (staying where I am), I am saying no to________________
  2. By saying no to (staying where I am), I am saying yes to_________________

List as many outcomes as come to mind. Once you’ve come to a natural end, review your answers; you may find that seeing it on paper gives you more clarity. 

Ultimately, when all is said and done, there is no right or wrong decision to be made because none of us can tell the future.  It helps to remember that as human beings, we do not always get it right, and things do not always run perfectly, and that is OK. Think of all the mistakes you have made in your life up to now. You survived, the world did not end, and they are probably the times you look back on as your most resilient.

When making “Big Life” decisions, it is important not to let future fears, emotions, and thoughts of 'what if' stop you from taking the next step.  Remember to be true to yourself, your motivations and values, and more likely than not you will come to the right decision for you at that time in your career.

808 Talent is a Recruitment, Consulting, and Coaching company serving the global Sports Media Technology community in finding, retaining and nurturing the very best talent across the industry. For an informal chat about your next career move, please contact Ben Swanton at ben@808talent.com

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash