What to Do When You Quit and Your Boss Wants You to Stay

Do's and don'ts for when Yyour Boss doesn't want you to resign

Person quitting their job
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What should you do if you resign from your job, but your boss wants you to stay? If you're asked to stay after you give two weeks' notice, it's important to consider your options and decide whether it makes sense to consider the offer and withdraw your resignation or stay with your original plan and move on.

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.

Review advice on how to handle a counteroffer from your employer after you've resigned, the pros and cons of staying vs. moving on, and how to handle your resignation when your employer wants you to stay.

Pros and Cons of Accepting a Counteroffer After Resigning

Many employment experts suggest that agreeing to stay on board after you’ve given notice of leave is usually not advisable. A Harvard Business Review survey reports that almost 40% of senior executives and human resources (HR) leaders said that accepting a counteroffer from a current employer will adversely affect one’s career.

You may 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 afterward will very likely burn your bridges with the company.

That said, 78% of senior executives and 80% of HR leaders indicated that accepting a counteroffer can sometimes make sense.

What to Do When You Receive a Counteroffer  

First, be very careful about agreeing to stay after you have quit your job. 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.

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, information that can be useful 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.

If you're not resigning because of a better job offer, this conversation with your boss can also help you decide whether it makes sense to stay and try to make the job work.

Remind Yourself Why You Wanted to Leave

Hear your boss out, but stick to your guns. If your gut is telling you that it is time to move on, be mindful of that feeling. Big salaries and special perks can be convincing, but they're not the whole story. 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

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. Just make sure it's on your terms and that you 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.

Do's and Don'ts for When You're Asked to Stay

Do
  • 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

Don't
  • 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

What Not to Do After You Quit

You should not feel obligated to stay at the job or feel guilty about your decision to move 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 as if 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.

Don't 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.

Don't 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.”

Don't 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 doing so (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 such as “I am looking for a higher salary” or “I wanted a more flexible schedule” will give them an easy opportunity to pester you with counteroffers or promises about what will change should you decide to stay.

Don't 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.”

Don't Provide 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, such as 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.”

Don't Involve Other Companies

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 give the future employer reason to worry that you may reconsider and choose to stay with your old company.

Key Takeaways

  • Many employment experts believe that accepting a counteroffer from your current employer after you resign isn't typically the best career strategy.
  • Before you make a final decision, hear your boss out and weigh the pros and cons of moving on vs. staying.
  • What's most important is to remember that you need to make the best decision for yourself and for the next step of your career.


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