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When It’s Time ‘To
Walk Away’, Don’t Turn Back!
By Tom Dennis – President, Effective Engineering
you’ve done the analysis of your present job situation (see
eN-100902 - Know When To Fold ‘em) and determined it’s time
“to walk away” (or “to fold ‘em” or “to run”). You’ve
given full care and consideration in making your decision and carefully
weighed the pros and cons, recognizing how truly critical a decision it is
that you’re making, and the implications if your decision is wrong. You’ve
updated your resume, contacted recruiters, potential companies, and other
contacts. You’ve identified the best opportunities, contacted them,
interviewed, have been offered a new job both verbally and in writing by
what appears to be a great company, and have verbally accepted the new
position. You notify your current company to give them your two weeks
notice and, shortly after hearing of your decision to leave, they decide to
make you a counteroffer, with a significant increase in salary, potential
bonuses, potential promotion, and/or other enticements to stay. What do you
Walk away! Leave! What are
you thinking? Don’t turn back, look forward!
First, look at things
objectively from the perspective of your current employer:
• They have a need on the short-term project you’re currently involved in
where only you can provide the needed assistance, so they’re willing to
promise you anything to get done what they need. But beyond that, in all
probability they won’t really need you despite the flattering words they may
use to entice you to stay. When their near-term problems are solved, they
can go back to business as normal, and they can make plans going forward
without you as a critical resource.
• Why should they trust you when you’ve demonstrated “betrayal” by
keeping your dissatisfaction or unhappiness hidden (even if you really
haven’t)? You’ve already demonstrated that you’re a “traitor”,
willing to leave them for a better opportunity. Why would they want to keep
a “traitor” around for any longer than absolutely necessary? They
certainly wouldn’t want to develop plans around you!
• You’ve shown disloyalty. You went behind their backs. You were ready to
abandon them in their time of need. You can’t be trusted.
• You just demonstrated to others in the company who may be frustrated with
their jobs that there’s a way out and that good paying jobs are out there
(although it may take work to find them). You’re responsible for that. The
company clearly doesn’t want to see a stampede out the door. While they
want to hold on to you for the time being, they’re clearly unhappy with what
• In accepting their counteroffer, you’re taking money to stay that will
have to come from the potential rewards to others who have remained loyal.
The likelihood of you receiving much in the way of future salary increases,
bonuses or other incentives is low, or certainly near the bottom of their
interests. They’ve reeled you back to do their bidding for a sufficient
time to meet their needs; they can always take your money and give it to
others downstream when they no longer need you.
Next, look at things from the perspective of your new employer should you
decide to renege on your acceptance:
• You will forever alienate the company whose position you just accepted.
You did a lot of due diligence, investigation, evaluation, analysis and
personal soul searching in determining that this was the best opportunity
for you to forge a new and better future. Your chances for another shot in
this company in the near- to mid-future (or ever) will be nonexistent.
• You will forever burn bridges with the people at that company who put
their names on the line to make you an offer. Establishing good contacts
with good people is a critical element of any future networking activities.
Your odds of remaining at your current company forever are negligible
(particularly in light of your current employer’s perspective). You never
know when or how soon you’ll want or need to call on people you know and
• Word will likely spread that you weren’t really serious about finding a
new position, taking on new opportunities, and getting away from problem
situations and severe job limitations and frustrations. You took advantage
of the good will of another company and stabbed them in the back (see also
eN-100805 – Stolen Credit – It’s Not Just About Credit Cards!). This will
likely damage future opportunities outside your current company. You’ll
find that it is really a small world and your decisions will not stay
Now, look at things from your personal perspective:
• Is the money (or bonuses or promotions) all you were looking for or were
there other reasons you decided to look elsewhere? Face it, there were many
factors that led to your decision, and money was only one of them, likely
not even the most important.
• Why are you suddenly worth more money (or bonuses or promotions) from your
current company when you clearly weren’t before you gave notice? Where did
the sudden increase in value come from? Would it have come if you didn’t
say you were leaving? What value do they really place on you?
• If the only way to get recognition and action is to say you’re leaving,
what does that mean to your future prospects for recognition? You’ll likely
go to the bottom of the list if they just blew a wad on keeping you here for
now, so further pay increases or advancement is highly questionable. Think
this through. You were of little recognizable value until you said you’re
leaving? Huh? What’s wrong with this logic?
• Where are the opportunities for advancement for a “traitor”? You
clearly aren’t going to be viewed as a “hero” for what you did
(except possibly by your peers, but only then to demonstrate they may
have more power if they threaten to leave). You will in all likelihood be
given only enough to keep you happy until your “critical” assignment
• The underlying problems that led you to search for new and better
opportunities have not disappeared (except for increased pay), nor are they
likely to. After all, you’ll complete the work they wanted done and they
don’t have to change a thing. In fact they’ll be even worse, since you’ll
now be viewed as a “traitor”.
• Your future at your new company is unwritten and entirely in your hands, a
blank slate that you can make in to whatever you want. Your future at your
current company, should you turn back and accept their counteroffer, will
never be the same.
When you objectively look at the situation from all sides, why would you
even think about turning back?
When it’s time to leave, … leave!
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