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Transitioning Tip – #2: Resigning From Your Job / Counter Offers

Part of an ongoing series of  job search tips to be presented over the next 100 days.

by Todd Oldfield, 22 Year Recruiting Veteran, 


Resigning the right way is just sooooooo important. And, as it turns out, sooooo smart. No sense in burning bridges you do not have to in life. Below I have included some actual verbage to use when you resign. ALWAYS resign in writing; not verbally.

First, the key is to resign ASAP, after accepting an offer. If convenient, Friday mornings are always a nice time to turn in your notice. If you accept an offer on Monday, don’t wait until Friday to do it though. Go ahead, get it done. Get through the counter and count your days until you are gone, gone, gone.  LOL

I wanted to share with you an email I sent to a job-seeker recently that I have been working with, overviewing the proper way to resign a job. It read;

Dear Sally;

I am writing you this email because THIS is a critical step in the “job search” process. You have come soooooo far. You searched, you interview, you WON a great new position that will allow you to take your career to the next level. 

You have what you sought (or you would not have accepted your new position), so let’s talk about two very important topics; your resignation and the probable counter offer that will ensue. 


 Resignations can be tricky. You don’t want to offend anyone, nor do you want to burn any bridges in life. You want to be firm and dissuade your employer from making a counter offer and you want to end this chapter of your life on a high note, in a clean manner. 

So, is there a way that you can accomplish all this? Yes.  I highly recommend the following resignation letter, which I have used for 20 years.  

“Dear Immediate Supervisor or Manager”; 

I have made a decision to leave XYZ Company in pursuit of another great opportunity (for my family and I. I want you to know that I have zero negative feelings about XYZ or you. I have learned so much while I have been employed here and I want to thank you for that experience and training. 

My last day will be xx/xx/xxxx.

Again, I want to thank you for my time here. Since I consider this an irrevocable decision, I will consider the matter at a close.

 Warm regards.


 There is a LOT of psychology in this letter. Let’s cover it. Notice all that was accomplished in this short resignation letter I have been using for 20+ years.

  1. Sally notified her boss she was departing. First and foremost, she notified them.
  2. She let them know they should not be offended and that she was leaving for a good opportunity for her and her family. Any employer that does not want you to take advantage of good opportunities for your family or you is not interested in your best interests obviously.
  3. She allowed them to save face, by pointing out that the reason for her       departure was not tied to any negative reason, against the company or her       supervisor (even if it was.  LOL)
  4. She showed appreciation and her “thanks” for all that she learned while she were with them. That’s nice.
  5. She have dissuaded them from making her a counter offer, by pointing out that her decision is an irrevocable one and that she considers the matter at a close.

Most importantly, she was short, sweet, and professional in her departure.

Now, regardless of how you handled it, you can rest assured that there is still a strong probability that you will receive a counter offer, although the tactic is starting to wane a little as people become more sophisticated, learn the perils of accepting them, and companies realize that it is a pointless, near unethical practice.


Let’s talk about these counter offers.

I just did a recent Google search on the subject of “Employer Counter Offers” and found there were 3,000+ pages on the subject. I would suspect that if you were able to read all the information on the subject matter found on those page 3,000+ pages, you would hear the same thing… NEVER TAKE A COUNTER OFFER from your current employer.

Making an outgoing employee a counter offer is an old ploy that employers have used for a long time to temporarily swing “convenience” back into their corner.

Allow me to explain.

Below is a simple illustration of what’s going on when a company pulls a counter offer move;

STEP 1 – You surprised them with a resignation and they are in a pickle! They are badly inconvenienced and maybe short handed. Regardless, it’s not a good time for you to leave, or they would have asked you to leave, given the lean operating style of American business these days. 

STEP 2 – The only thing they can think of to do, is try to lure you back over to their side of the fence with some enticement; maybe more money, maybe a promotion, maybe more responsibilities, or something; anything, they will even try to guilt you into staying. You caught them in a lurch. It’s all they have.

STEP 3 – Once you are lured back with a promise; now they have a little time to go find your replacement (since they know you are not really a loyal employee any longer in their minds.)

STEP 4 – They begin your replacement; usually you end up training them, unknowingly.

STEP 5 – Once up to speed… you are GONE, GONE, GONE. They usually find some petty reason to let you go and move your replacement into your role.

See, they work out a process so that you leave when it is “convenient” for them, not for you. The moment you submit your resignation, the bond is broken for all time. You are no longer an “insider” in their mind, but rather someone to replace as soon as it is convenient for them.

The Wharton Business School did research back in the 80′s-90′s and found;

“In 87% of the cases studied where an employee accepted a counter offer from their employer, they were STILL no longer employed by that former employer within 6 months of accepting the counter offer.”

In some cases, it was because they were let go a few months later for some small reason and in other cases, they quit because working conditions had become intolerable and they just could not keep it up. Either way, they were gone from their former employer. 

BOTTOM LINE CONSIDERATION #1 – Bottom line; is it better to go on your terms, when you find a move up for yourself, or is it better to go when they are ready for you to go? ALWAYS, when it is on your terms, right?

BOTTOM LINE CONSIDERATION #2 – Bottom line #2; look back at their counter offer enticement; what was it? More money? More responsibility? A Promotion?

Should you not be angry? If you were worth more money, or a promotion before you resigned, should they not have noticed it then, and offered it without you having to potentially leave the company?


First, resign the right way; in writing. Be tactful, short, and definitive.

Second, NEVER take a counter offer. If you do, you are stripping away your power and giving up the advantage of leaving when it was right for you; for what you wanted, when you wanted it and you are giving that power to your employer; and in many cases (87%), finding yourself out of the job anyways, within 6 months.

I would love to hear any war stories, experience you have on the topic.

Please leave a comment.


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