What to Do When You Quit and Your Boss Wants You to Stay
Do's and Don'ts
What should you do if you resign from your job, but your boss wants you to stay? Although some people may find it flattering to hear their supervisor beg them to stick around after they give two weeks notice, this is a situation that’s not to be treated lightly.
It’s important to maintain a positive relationship with your company while also staying true to what’s best for you. If you quit and your boss wants you to stay, think carefully before responding.
Here are the dos and don’ts for handling this type of situation.
Be careful about agreeing to stay
Hear your boss out
Remind yourself why you wanted to leave
Offer to do what you can to ease the transition
Send a thank you note after you’ve moved on
Feel obligated to stay or be guilted into staying
Lose your cool or get upset at work
Over-explain why you’re leaving
Say anything negative about your boss or the company
Provide details about your new job or involve the new employer
Be very, very careful about agreeing to stay: Your employer may try to convince you to stay with offers of a higher salary, a promotion, extra vacation days, a flexible schedule, that fancy corner office—and so on. However, the consensus among employment experts is that agreeing to stay on board after you’ve given notice of leave is not usually advisable.
You’ll be considered a flight risk, and your loyalty and dedication may be questioned, jeopardizing future promotions and potentially increasing your chance of getting fired if a new and eager candidate comes along. Also, agreeing to stay and then leaving shortly after will very likely burn your bridges with the company.
Hear your boss out: As difficult as it can be, give your employer a chance to explain why they want you to stay. Not only will this set the tone for a respectful and reasonable discussion, but you may also hear about why you are considered so valuable, which can be useful material to include in a future job interview. However, if the boss carries on endlessly, don’t be afraid to reiterate that your decision is final.
The other thing that a conversation with your boss will do, if your reason for leaving is the job and not a better offer, is to give you the information you can use to decide if you want to stay and try to make the job work.
Remind yourself why you wanted to leave in the first place: Hear your boss out, but stick to your guns. If your gut is telling you that it was time to move on, be mindful of that feeling. Big salaries and special perks can be convincing, but it can be helpful to jot down a list of the pros and cons of staying or leaving to keep your priorities in order.
Offer to do what you can to ease the transition: Just make sure it’s on your terms. Let your boss know that you’re willing to help fill the void as best you can, whether that’s training a new person or being available for questions after your departure. However, keep it on your terms and only commit to what you can realistically follow through with.
Send a thank you note once you have moved on: Clearly, you were a great asset to your company, which means they are an excellent connection to have when you’re networking or when you need a strong reference for jobs in the future. That’s why it’s important not to burn bridges. A week after your departure, send a thank you note expressing your gratitude for the opportunity and wishing the company the best going forward
Feel obligated to stay or guilty about moving on: Ultimately, you are employed at will, unless you are covered by an employment contract, which means your employer cannot force you to stay with the company. Don’t let yourself be guilted into sticking around. Although it can be difficult to feel like you are disappointing others, try to be confident in your decision and take pride in the fact that you are doing what’s best for you.
Lose your cool: It can be frustrating if your boss isn’t listening to you, or is repeatedly and endlessly begging you to stay. However, take it upon yourself to make sure the situation doesn’t spiral out of control. Remember, this is a professional engagement, not a personal one. You are completely within your rights to move on as you please.
Get upset: Make an effort to stay calm, and if your boss carries on, have a simple but final response planned.
You can say: “I appreciate and understand your concerns about my departure, but my decision is final and my last day will be [date]. Please let me know what I can do between now and then to make this transition easier.”
Feel the need to over-explain: Ultimately, you don’t owe your boss a detailed explanation as to why you are moving on. If you are 100% committed to moving on (and have zero interest in entertaining a counteroffer) you should avoid divulging too many specifics about your reasons for leaving the company. Too little information is better than too much, and there are some things you shouldn’t say when you quit.
If your supervisor is truly committed to doing anything they can do to get you to stay on board, an explanation like, “I am looking for a higher salary,” or “I wanted a more flexible schedule,” gives them an easy opportunity to pester you with counteroffers or promises about what will change should you decide to stay.
Say anything negative: Also be sure to avoid saying anything negative about your boss or the company. Instead, if you are asked about your decision, stick to a more general explanation.
You can say: “I’m looking to take my career in a different direction,” or “I want to explore a new industry.”
Be pressured into providing details about your new job: Your boss may fish for details about your new job in order to figure out how they can get you to stay, or what other companies offer that theirs does not. You are under no obligation to provide information about your new position. If your boss pressures you to divulge specifics, like how much you will be earning at the new company, try to divert the question.
You can say: “I agreed not to disclose that information,” or, simply, “We’re in the process of finalizing.”
Involve companies you are interviewing with or have accepted an offer from: If you’ve already accepted an offer at a new company, or if you are in the process of interviewing for jobs, don’t let drama around your departure seep into your future prospects.
Although it may sound like a good thing that you are so highly valued in your previous role, you don’t want to approach a new opportunity with any baggage or worry your future employer that you may reconsider and choose to stay with your old company.