Recently, fans of the hit series Mad Men watched sadly as copywriter Peggy Olson tendered her resignation to Don Draper. Although Don tried in vain to retain his protegé with a solid counter-offer, Peggy resisted; she promptly left Don and the firm to become Copy Chief at another agency.
And while this retired “Mad Man” was sorry that series creator Matthew Weiner transitioned Peggy to rival firm Cutler Gleason and Chaough, I respect [his] decision to give Peggy a spine–to resist Don’s tempting counter.
We believe that BEFORE a candidate accepts any offer from a new company they should anticipate the probability of receiving a counter-offer from their current employer. And while there are some reasons when accepting that counter makes sense, generally speaking, the candidate should remain 100 percent committed to exiting the current company for the new one.
Often times, accepting a counter-offer provides one an immediate monetary or job-status boost; a risk-averse candidate opts to remain with the known versus jumping to the unknown. Or, the candidate may immediately gain a spiffy new job title and/or a nice bump up in pay.
However, we know from many of our candidates that accepting a counter-offer can bite one in the butt. The mere act of accepting a counter is like borrowing against future equity–or, a “pay-day loan” on steroids.
Some have told us that–weeks or months after accepting the counter to stay–they felt undue pressure to outperform. And this may seem odd but it is true: hiring managers often develop doubts and mistrust in the very talent that they enticed to stay on the team with a counter-offer.
So, our take on employment counter-offers is this: buyer beware.
Last point: if you’ve formally accepted a new job offer then you need to make it very clear to your current employer that you are indeed moving on (no ifs, ands, or buts about it). How talent handle the transition from old job to new is often the most important indication of their [good] character and overall career success.