How to Turn Down Two Jobs at Once

counterofferAnyone can turn down one job. It’s not tough to do. You can tell the manager no, you can disappear and not respond, or you can even try to negotiate yourself a Ferrari as a signing bonus. But you want to go further, you want to push boundaries – you want to turn down multiple jobs… at the same time.

Impossible, you say? Not only is it possible, it happens more often than you’d think. People turn down two jobs at once every time they accept a counteroffer from their current employer.

Surely you or someone you know has been in this situation: you accept a new position, put in your resignation for your current role, only to be met with a counteroffer. Sometimes these include a raise in pay, additional work flexibility, a promotion or new title, or all of the above. You feel pretty good, they finally appreciate me!

Unfortunately, that’s where the good part ends. See, when you accepted the other job you effectively told your employer you don’t want to work for them anymore – and that’s something you can’t take back. From this point forward the higher-ups will see you with one foot out the door, and rightfully so, as it’s estimated four out of every five employees who accept counter-offers end up leaving within nine months.

This is because employees usually have reasons for leaving that extend beyond compensation, and those won’t change after accepting a counteroffer. Any issues with management, corporate policies, culture fit, boredom with work, job scope – these will stay the same, and the soothing effect of higher pay will quickly wear off.

To boot, many of these problems compound after accepting a counteroffer. From this point, you aren’t viewed as a loyal employee and this can have negative ramifications when it comes to both winning promotions and surviving layoffs. You may no longer be viewed as a team player, and the dynamic with your co-workers may be impacted.

It’s important to understand the motivations behind the counteroffer from the employer’s side as well. While they wrap the counteroffer in a bunch of flattery (“You’re too valuable, we need you,” or “We were just about to give you a promotion/raise!”), in reality, there are often hidden motivations. Your manager is likely being evaluated by his/her ability to retain staff and keep the team happy. The counteroffer is also a stall tactic, keeping you around long enough for the company to find a replacement and handle your departure at a more opportune time for them.

It feels great to be wanted by multiple companies, but it doesn’t make you immune to a career misstep. Don’t turn down two jobs at once. Don’t stay with the company you had to threaten to resign from to get paid what you’re worth. While it may be tempting to take the money and stay with what is familiar, the simple fact is that one company was ready to pay you what you deserved from the start and the other was not.