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The Resignation Process and the Counter-Offer

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The Resignation Process and the Counter-Offer

A topic that I discuss often with candidates is how to resign and how to handle the counter-offer. I wanted to share a few thoughts about handling the resignation process and dodging the counter-offer discussion all together.

First I must voice a disclaimer, if you’d consider a counter-offer, my professional opinion is to gracefully bow out of the interview process NOW and go talk to your manager and ask for a pay increase. If you’d really like to stay at your company and you just would like a raise, I’d recommend talking with management before handing in your resignation.  Once you hand in your resignation, the relationship will never be the same.  They will know you were interviewing on company time, and you’ll never be in the circle of trust again.

Also, I invite you to consider that the counter-offer they will be giving you is just to buy time to find your replacement anyway; they are buying time for a succession plan. If you go in now, you will be considered a proactive person they can trust rather than a disloyal person that they cannot.  You don’t want to be the person who had to threaten to leave to get what they wanted. As your friend, I wouldn’t want to see you do your career damage when all you wanted was a raise.
If accepting a counter-offer is NOT something you would do, then you should be prepared to have your resignation handled in three ways:

Situation #1: They will accept your resignation and thank you for your service.
“We are disappointed to see you leave, but we have valued your time here and want the best for you.“

Well-managed companies know that every employee is a temporary employee and that trying to talk a grown-up out of an intelligent life decision is a selfish move.  I wish more companies took this route during the resignation, but some do not.  Yet there are a great deal of companies that accept your notice and wish you the best in your career.

Situation #2: They will accept your resignation, but not before they take you on a guilt trip.
“How could you do this to me, after all I’ve done for you?  How is this going to make me look?”
Understand that your manager is only human and is reacting to very bad news that affects him/her personally.  They’ll get over it with time and everything will be back to normal soon.  I know this isn’t great to hear, but everyone is replaceable.  When they start doing this, say something like, “My decision is final and we need to focus on the turnover of my projects. When would you like to start?” If he/she still keeps trying to guilt trip you, keep bringing up the turnover.  If they start getting vindictive and emotional, say, “Let me give you twenty minutes, and I’ll come back and we can start the turnover process.”  Remember this is your meeting, and you don’t have to sit through a guilt trip.

The most common way counter-offers are handled are in….

Situation #3: They will very calmly and collectedly try to talk you out of it.
“Before you make this official, let me talk with management and see what we can do to keep you here.” OR “Let’s pretend this didn’t happen.  What can we do to make you stay?”

It’s best not to share the reasons for leaving or to get into a dialogue about where you are going. Stick to the topic of the resignation and the plan of turning over your projects.   I recommend not to fall into the trap of “let’s pretend this didn’t happen,” because it can’t be forgotten.   All the reasons why you are leaving should be addressed in your exit interview, not in your resignation.

-Companies never change based upon the conversation given at someone’s resignation meeting.
-You don’t have to tell them where you are going or why you are leaving.  If they keep pressing you, tell them that you’ll send them an email in a few weeks with your new contact information.

The Resignation Letter:
Keep it simple, keep it vague, keep it unapologetic, and keep it controlled.

“Dear John,

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of my resignation from my current position as (title) with (company). My last day of work will be (date). I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to you as my manager, and I wish you and (company) much continued success.

Please understand that I am not in a position to consider an alternative offer from (company), since my decision to resign is final. Please let me know how I can be of assistance in helping make this a smooth transition.


I hope all this information will help you in the resignation process.  I wholeheartedly hope that you don’t get lured into the counter-offer trap, and if you’d like to talk further about this topic, I’m always open for a discussion.  Thanks!

See you at the Top!

Michael Pietrack

About the Author: Michael Pietrack is a leading executive recruiter in a the Pharmaceutical Industry and arguably the top recruiter in the Medical Affairs space. His specific expertise is recruiting in Field Medical Affairs placing Medical Science Liaisons, and therefore, he has been dubbed “The MSL Recruiter” (www.TheMSLRecruiter.com).

What is TMAC Direct?: TMAC Direct is an executive search agency that serves the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries. This boutique firm fills critical staffing needs on a retained, partially retained, or contingency basis. TMAC Direct is the direct-hire recruiting division of The Medical Affairs Company, commonly known as TMAC. Together TMAC and TMAC Direct, provide an unmatched staffing service in the Medical Technology arena, whether the hiring needs are on a permanent placement or outsourcing basis.

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